They have been known as (Andrew) Jacksonian Democrats, who became “Dixiecrats”; Southern Democrats who became Republican Moderates; Republican Moderates who became “Reagan Conservative” Republicans, who today have become extremist Tea Party “Patriots”. But no matter what label they’ve borne, they have never welcomed the interference of “outside groups” in their quest for POLITICAL DOMINANCE. To them, ONLY THEY are “The American People”; anyone not within their smaller and smaller tent has been and will always be YOU PEOPLE.
In the 72 years between the election of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, when YOU PEOPLE (in this instance, black persons) were socially powerless and Constitutionally only three-fifths of a human being, conservatives happily voted slave-holders into the presidency. Even after the passage in 1866 of the 14th Amendment (guaranteeing black men full rights of citizenship), the onset of state-by-state restrictions (the so-called Black Codes) prohibited full, free voting rights for black men. It took the 1869 passage of the 15th Amendment (outlawing ANY state from denying the right to vote to anyone because of his race) to open voting rights for all men of color, including immigrant Mexicans and others.
While conservative racists throughout the low country fought back against uppity colored men with lynchings, literacy tests and burning crosses, YOU PEOPLE (in this case, uppity women) were hard at work fighting for the right to vote as well. Suffragettes around the nation struggled and worked hard to lobby for the right to vote, making hard-won gains until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
As if YOU PEOPLE hadn’t complicated the lives of conservatives enough by getting minorities and women the right to vote, the Vietnam War helped to usher in a new progressive ideal. Fair-minded people of that era realized that if young people 18 years of age were old enough to fight and die in a war they had been conscripted into, then they were old enough to have a voice in the leaders who insisted upon their involuntary military service. The result: the 26th Amendment.
Finally, with enactment of THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson ended state-by-state practices designed to disenfranchise YOU PEOPLE (again, African American voters), theoretically spoiling the fun of conservative legislatures and governors everywhere.
NONE of these changes in the electorate has EVER consistently advantaged conservative causes. The inclusion of these so-called minorities helped YOU PEOPLE to usher in the New Deal, which formed the foundation of America’s exceptional SOCIAL CONTRACT and SAFETY NET. What conservatives sneeringly refer to as “the public dole” has resulted in society-building institutions like THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM, PUBLIC EDUCATION, WELFARE, SOCIAL SECURITY MEDICARE and MEDICAID, and a variety of progressive PUBLIC WORKS and PRIVATE INDUSTRY SUBSIDIES, many of which have promoted JOB CREATION in various sectors down through the decades.
So now YOU PEOPLE know why CONSERVATIVES always hearken to “a simpler time”, or want to “take the country back”. The “good old days” REALLY WERE good — FOR THEM. Rich and greedy children of privilege who lorded it over EVERYONE ELSE, and who answered to none but The Almighty for their dark deeds and evil ways. And let me be clear: these individuals were not always men, and they were not always white.
Voting Rights are all about ACCESS. Whether it’s voting access for PRISONERS, RESIDENTS OF SHORT DURATION, HOMELESS PEOPLE, SPECIAL INTEREST ELECTIONS, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, NON-RESIDENT CITIZENS, PUERTO RICO, or DISABLED CITIZENS, the right to vote IS NOT about restricting the participation of YOU PEOPLE in this venerable republic. It isn’t even about black and white.
WE, THE PEOPLE know that it’s about RIGHT and WRONG.