Yup. You read that right. Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri GOP Senatorial candidate, proud member of the Grand Old Party of voter suppression, says that the hard won federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which wiped out decades of discrimination, should probably be revised or overturned. According to Think Progress and FiredUp Missouri (which has video of the local radio interview in which Akin committed his foot to his mouth), when asked if the legislation should be “modified or scrapped”:
Akin said that states – not the federal government – should set voting rules. According to Akin, elections “have historically always been a state thing” and that’s a “good principle.”
Of course, the law was enacted in order to deal with mostly Southern states that used “literacy” tests and other stratagems to deny African-Americans the right to vote. But, of course, as per Akin, that was their right. One wonders if Akin also thinks they had the right to practice slavery? (He is, as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, an acolyte of the bizarre historical revisionism of Christian dominionist, David Barton. On his Website, Barton does distinguish several types of acceptable slavery, which he terms “biblical slavery.” Barton would, for instance, consider enslavement of nonbelievers, or pagans, to belong to this class.)
Over and above such arcane questions, Akin’s attitude mirrors those of many in his party and puts the GOP’s current efforts to suppress the voting rights of minorities, the elderly and students in its proper perspective. Bear in mind that under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acts, some Southern states with a history of discrimination must have changes to their election laws precleared by federal courts. In order to avoid that stipulation, which applies to five of its counties, Florida, in its pursuit of more restrictive voting laws, actually actually filed suit seeking to have Section 5 declared unconstitutional. As of yesterday, a federal court refused to preclear at least one of the four elements of Florida’s new voter law that the Department of Justice found problematic. Given the GOP’s current drive to implement new, state-level Jim Crow laws all over the country, it’s not surprising that “state’s rights” politicians like Akin echo the call to clear the way of impediments like that pesky Voting Rights Act.
If you want to know more about the new Jim Crow, journalist Ari Berman discusses GOP strategies to restrict voting in the video below:
UPDATE: Watch Todd Akin attempt to extricate his entire lower leg from out of his mouth. The video of Todd’s statements about the Voting Rights Act temporarily disappeared from the St. Louis Fox2Now webpage and reappeared in a slightly more edited form (compare the original with the new video). When the video reappeared, it was accompanied by text that presented what I can only assume is the Akin campaign’s effort at damage control:
Congressman Todd Akin believes that the right to vote is fundamental to our country. He supports laws that protect these rights and did not say that he was opposed to the ‘civil rights and voting rights’ laws. Akin has, and always will, support the right to vote.
Of course, nobody said Akin was opposed to the right to vote in general – just that his espousal of radical states rights in this case would destroy or modify federal protections for entire classes of U.S. citizens. It could decimate the system of checks and balances enacted for states and counties with a history of discrimination. And, as the Florida case demonstrates, efforts to impose discriminatory laws are not safely in the past.
One can only wonder if the entire Fox interview, scheduled to run on Sunday, will have been “cleaned-up” as well?