It's a no-brainer, right? The Voting Rights Act, that bedrock of civil liberties passed in 1965, helped to end discrimination at the polls, not to mention to elect minority members of Congress. Up for renewal this year, it was placed on the docket before the July 4 congressional break by Republicans, who expected it to pass; in fact, they wanted to tout it back home as proof of their commitment to civil rights amid all the controversy over immigration reform.
Alas, things didn't quite work out that way. Some Southerners objected to it, complaining that their states remained under undue scrutiny. But most of the objections came from a group of Republicans questioning the use of multilingual ballots. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa is pushing a proposal to eliminate any ballot not printed in Englishand he managed to get nearly 80 signatures on a petition calling for the multilingual provision to be removed. "The multilingual ballot mandate encourages the linguistic division of our nation and contradicts the Melting Pot ideal that has made us the most successful multiethnic nation on Earth," he says.
Huh? Aren't we the most successful multicultural nation on Earth because we are patient with those who come to this country and need time to adapt? And isn't this the last fight the GOP needs as its battles itselfand its own presidentover immigration reform? House leaders say they expect a vote this week, and want a renewal of the Voting Rights Act to pass. The question, of course, is how many members end up voting against it. If they do, their constituents should take notice.