History Has Not Yet Caught Up With One Group

Florida and several other states are taking steps to right a historic wrong by restoring voting and other rights to former felons. Florida felons make up some 20% of the more than 5 million people in the United States who cannot vote because of  current laws disenfranchise them. Because of the economically and racially discriminatory history of disenfranchisement laws and their current disproportionate impact on marginalized and underrepresented populations, these laws should be reformed.

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Florida activists fight to retain right to petition at shopping centers

Freedom of speech is under attack in Florida where current bills in the House and Senate are threatening to restrict citizens from voter registration activities and leafleting around shopping centers, parking lots and other commercial property.

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A Republican Does the Right Thing

I think praise is due when an officeholder does the right thing.  That's equally true for Democrats and Republicans alike.  Thus I give a great big KUDOS to Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida for his plan to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time.

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John Warner's visit to my politics class, and Youth Voting

John Warner spoke today at Larry Sabato's Intro to Politics class, and he took a lot of questions. Most everyone in the class now has a working knowledge of the constitution and the political process, and at least a vague idea or what's going on in the country. Most of the questions were the only one on their particular topic, but Senator Warner expressed some surprise at the focus of about half of the questions and the only recurring theme of the discussion: the erosion of our civil liberties.

Among the D.C. punditocracy, there's a lot of pontificating on what young voters do and don't care about, and I suspect most of them would be every bit as surprised as Senator Warner was about the level of concern among young voters with civil liberties. Presumably, America's youth don't vote in large numbers because they are mostly shielded by their parents from the material concerns that motivate most political engagement. So the analysts bore their audiences looking for material issues that young voters are supposed to care about (usually college loans and balanced budgets), but I'd like to suggest an very different approach: academic issues.

I don't mean "education"; I mean the things we read about in civics class and history class, like the constitution, the wars we faught to defend it, the civil rights movement waged to finish the job it started. Usually people call these "abstract" issues, but that's when they're talking about adults who don't care about them anyway (except solidly-Democratic Democrats). But to students, who don't pay for taxes or health insurance, no issue can be concrete or abstract -- even student loans seem a lifetime away.

The division is instead between what adults and politicians and pundits tell us, and what we know, what we can reason and grasp with our own minds. To me, every issue is abstract, but habeus corpus and the fourth amendment are at least self-evident. Politicians appealing to the youth vote, as well as pundits analyzing it, need not fear the abstract -- everything is abstract, but the recent, blatant violations of the constitution, drowning polar bears, and civillian casualties are crystal clear.

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Why Republican Gay Discrimination Costs Us

Earlier this month, Michigan continued to take several steps back into the Dark Ages with the Appellate Court ruling that prohibits public universities and state and local governments from providing health insurance to the partners of gay employees. The Court based the ruling on the asinine 2004 vote on the so-called Gay Marriage Amendment Ban, aka the first failed Proposal 2.

Congratulations, Michigan. You join 26 other states in officially discriminating against the very people who pay your taxes, start and own businesses, and traditionally have the most disposable income of any major demographic.

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