I personally respect George Will and have on occasion been persuaded by his
arguments on various issues. I do take exception to his reasoning on Section 5
of the Civil Rights Act, contained in his editorial opinion: Liberals locked
in the past.
Though the Civil Rights Act is 48 years old. It is not locked in the past as
suggested. It is fluid, the list of those covered is not the same as when the
act was originally enacted. Districts within a state can apply to be removed,
and based on their individual histories have on occasion been removed.
Obama did win more white voters than either Al Gore or John Kerry. The reason
was that he was more popular than both, among white voters that were willing to
vote for someone black. He clearly did not garner an equivalent percentage of
southern white voters as northern white voters.
One could attempt to make the argument that this was also true for Al Gore
and John Kerry. Democrats just don’t do well in southern states, but that
argument supports the need for the Civil Rights Act. Still in 2012 there is a
seething resentment for the Democratic Party, in a general sense, because that
is the party most blamed/credited for the existence of the Civil Rights Act.
George Will goes on to note a comparison by Chief Justice Roberts; that
Massachusetts had the worst black to white turnout and Mississippi had the best
black to white turnout. That comparison is used to support the argument that
the Civil Rights Act is no longer needed. These facts actually support the
opposite point of view that the act is needed.
In Massachusetts, an admittedly liberal state, the white population is not
viewed as a threat to minorities. The blacks do not feel as compelled to cast a
self-preservation vote. In Mississippi the exact opposite psychology drives the
minority voters to go to the polls in much greater numbers. The Civil Rights
Act has made that greater turnout possible for the blacks. It should be noted
here that progress has been made in the south, but that progress is not uniform
throughout the south.
A strong argument could be made that even more states
should be included. The voter suppression antics of 2012 offered the country
even more proof that there are powerful forces out there still trying to deny
minorities their constitutional right to vote.