Voter ID laws took center stage Monday night during the Republican presidential debate, and that didn’t go unnoticed by MSNBC. In a Tuesday appearance on that network, Rainbow PUSH Coalition president and founder Jesse Jackson blasted voter ID efforts, saying that it was a battle already won by the side that opposes requiring identification at polling places.
“That’s the 10th Amendment argument,” Jackson said. “We won that battle. It was a battle we had 150 years ago: states’ rights, or ‘a more perfect union.’ The Voting Rights Act of ’65 argued that states wanted to have the right to determine who is eligible to vote, so people of color couldn’t vote, women couldn’t serve on juries, 18-year-olds couldn’t vote. So the federal government intervened to protect us from the tyranny of the majority.”
Jackson pointed out what he perceived as the flaws in voter identification laws and said that altering the Voting Rights Act was similar to the removal of troops from the South after the end of the Civil War.
“Here in Texas, you cannot use a student ID to register,” he said. “You can use your gun ID to register, for example. What a switch that is. Or in some instances, they want seniors to show their birth certificate and they don’t have it. They’re on fixed income, and so they have to buy one, and that’s a poll tax, in effect. Or they want to make it more difficult for students to vote. What they found in South Carolina and across the South, they want to remove Section 5, which is like removing the troops from the South after the Civil War, which makes it more difficult for students and seniors and immigrants to vote. And so, why tamper with what’s working?”
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Jackson added that had Martin Luther King, Jr. not been active in the South during the Civil Rights Era, companies like Boeing wouldn’t locate in South Carolina. Boeing’s move is facing hurdles from the Obama administration.
“You know, the new South is the Martin Luther King South,” he said. “These guys are making strange arguments down here. You would not having Boeing and Michelin and Toyota in the South had we not won the battle. Part of the new South is not [Ronald] Reagan. It is not [Strom] Thurmond. It is not [Barry] Goldwater. It’s Martin Luther King. The new South growth — all the industry — all this because of our civil rights movement won and it should keep winning for Americans.”