A kudo to Gov. Tim Kaine as he leaves Richmond
January 17, 2010 Only one word can describe former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s refusal to sign an executive order giving blanket restoration of voting rights to his state’s felons.
That word would be “Bravo!”
Others don’t think so, but in this case the advice “consider the source” would apply. One of those sources is Kent Willis, the executive director of Virginia’s ACLU. According to news reports, here was Willis’ reaction:
“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Kaine did not act before leaving office. This was his chance to have Virginia join the 48 other states that have put this aspect of Jim Crow behind them. Our hope now is that Governor-elect McDonnell will embrace reform of Virginia’s shameful felon disenfranchisement law and move us forward.”
Don’t you love liberals in high dudgeon? Don’t you love their sense of values, priorities and moral outrage? Note Willis’ description of Virginia’s law: “Shameful.” Anybody out there think that Willis feels that felons should be ashamed for the crimes they’ve committed?
Anyone? Anyone? I thought not.
Willis’ pique harkens me back to the time when Maryland had this debate. Maryland legislators – the Democratic ones – were hot to deep-six the state’s procedure for restoring voting rights to felons and pass a law giving blanket restoration. (They eventually did).
Unlike Virginia, Maryland’s law disenfranchised two-time felons. To restore their voting rights, felons had to go through an appropriately lengthy process that involved their making a personal plea to the governor.
In other words, Maryland’s old law dealt with this matter on a case-by-case basis, to weed out the felons who were serious about restoring their voting rights from recidivist knuckleheads. No dice, Maryland legislators said; knuckleheads deserve representation in government, too, and should be allowed to vote.
I wrote columns supporting Maryland’s law as it was – stressing as it did things like personal responsibility and initiative. One day some guy who recognized me asked, “Do you really believe felons shouldn’t get the right to vote?”
“I really believe it’s not my problem,” I answered. The felons committed the crime; it should have been their responsibility to do anything – including groveling their way into Maryland’s governor’s mansion, if it came to that – to get their voting rights restored.
But notice the focus of the guy’s question: I was against a blanket restoration of felon voting rights, so I was the bad guy. The man who asked me the question would never dream of asking a two-time felon, “Were you really stupid enough and irresponsible enough to commit a felony twice?”
It’s pretty obvious who the liberals feel are the victims here: felons. All of them. Not just the ones in for nonviolent crimes, but the murderers, rapists, robbers and drug dealers.
Try to suggest to some of these folks so passionate about restoring voting rights to felons that the real victims are people who were murdered, raped and robbed and they’d look at you like you just beamed down from planet Weirdo.
So it is with passionate felons-as-victims fervor that Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, could say of Kaine’s decision:
“The NAACP is disappointed in Governor Kaine’s decision to not sign an executive order to restore voting rights to 300,000 formerly incarcerated people in Virginia…As a matter of fairness, opportunity and democracy, people should be allowed to vote after paying their debt to society.”
Ah yes, the old “d” word. Supporters of voting rights for felons dredge it up all the time, democracy. There’s only one problem with Jealous’ statement.
The United States of America is not a democracy; it’s a republic. And yes, there is a difference, although I suspect Jealous isn’t aware of it.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”
Jealous probably feels that precisely describes what we have here in the United States. It isn’t. Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution says the federal government must guarantee to every state a republican form of government, not a democratic one. Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of a republic:
“A government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”
Entitled to vote, Mr. Jealous. In other words, not just any knucklehead can.
Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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