Is there anyone out there who doubts that Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to run for president in 2016? If there are a few, they need to consider remarks the former secretary of state made Tuesday about the Supreme Court striking down part of the Voting Rights Act.
Clinton told an organization of black women the 1965 law is in “real jeopardy.” She said the court ruling “struck at the heart” of the law and that could undermine the fundamental rights of Americans.
“Unless Congress acts, you know and I know, more obstacles are on the way,” Clinton said. “They’re going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted.”
The Associated Press said nearly 14,000 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority who heard Clinton responded with chants of “Run, Hillary, Run.”
Clinton doesn’t talk about her political plans, instead trying to convince the country she has other fish to fry. However, who wouldn’t run in her situation? Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is often called America’s first black president. Obama’s election with overwhelming support of black, Hispanic and Asian voters proves those voting blocs would switch to Clinton in a heartbeat.
Hillary Clinton isn’t the first to play the voting rights card. We have been inundated with complaints from liberals, civil rights advocates and black writers that the Supreme Court has wiped out the heart of the Voting Rights Act. What it did was remove the requirement that all or parts of 15 states with a history of voter discrimination get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before they could change any election laws.
Chief Justice John Roberts made it clear when the court ruled that Congress has failed to update the voting laws of this country in light of major changes that have taken place since 1965. Some of those states being punished, for example, have proved they aren’t discriminating against blacks or other minorities.
Louisiana is one of those. It has some of the best election laws in the country. Even its voter ID requirement has been accepted because it doesn’t prevent anyone from casting a vote. Those who can’t prove they are registered can cast a provisional vote that is counted once their voting status is confirmed.
Roberts said gains like those made in Louisiana were ignored by Congress when it renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006. The same thing happened when the court issued another ruling on voting in 2009. How long are the 15 states supposed to be punished?
Yes, there are still some attempts to dilute minority voting. A North Carolina state senator wants to curb or end early voting. National journal, a political news magazine in Washington, D.C., said research indicates Democratic voters disproportionately use in-person early voting. The magazine said Florida and Ohio both moved to cut back the number of early voting days. However, the backlash was so great governors of both states signed bills restoring early voting days.
The creation of at-large voting districts is sometimes used as another way to try and dilute minority votes. Some think requiring voter IDs is another method, but Louisiana has proved it can be done without affecting turnout.
Clinton and other critics of the court ruling are often, as the dictionary describes, “political leaders who try to stir up the people by appeals to their emotions and prejudice in order to gain power.” Consider what Clinton told her Tuesday audience.
“I want to make sure that in the next election and the next election and the next and every one after that, people line up to vote and they vote regardless of those who may not want to count their vote or acknowledge their right to vote,” she said.
The proof that large numbers of Americans are being denied the right to vote simply hasn’t been produced. And if it does happen, the Justice Department still has the ability to sue under two sections of the Voting Right Act if it suspects there is legitimate voter discrimination. Congress can also pass a more reasonable version of the Voting Rights Act that was recommended by Roberts, taking into account the progress that has been made in states like Louisiana.
Clinton also used the occasion to talk about Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed last year. The AP said it was her first public comment on the case since George Zimmerman was acquitted of the killing.
The Clinton speech had all the earmarks of a presidential campaign appearance. She studied her audience and made sure she talked about topics designed to whip them into a frenzy.
National Journal said “crack organizers” from President Obama’s campaigns have already joined the Clinton-for-president movement. “Is Hillary Clinton peaking too soon?” was the headline on the story. Could be, but it’s obvious from her speech to the black women’s organization that she doesn’t want to miss any golden opportunity to appeal to the voters who are certain to be in her camp if she eventually runs.
A lot can change between now and the 2016 presidential election, but, despite what she says, we can assume Clinton will be a contender. Many political signs are pointing in her direction. And Republicans will have to work extremely hard to come up with a worthy opponent.
• • •Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or firstname.lastname@example.org