Skip to main content

Opinion: Biden is confused about voting, history

Several Republican states around the country are trying to tidy up their election laws after the 2020 pandemic mess. President Joe Biden called this a “21st century Jim Crow assault,” then said it was “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.”

But please don’t call him unfit for office, because the 25th Amendment might then be used to remove him with Vice President Kamala Harris taking his place.

Therefore, let’s hang on to Biden. That doesn’t mean we have to take him seriously in what he says even if we do have to take him very, very seriously in what he wants to do, such as treating Republican, mostly common-sense state voting law changes as excluding Black Americans from the polls.

Right now we have 50 or so members of the Texas House hanging out in Washington, D.C., to prevent a vote in their home state on a Republican bill that would do such horrible things as telling businesses they must, under law, give employees time off to vote.

The bill also says there will still be two weeks of early voting and, in counties with a population of over 55,000, 12 hours each day for the opportunity. Is that a burden on people who would rather just enjoy TV shows, or what?

Going one better, there was also an around-the-clock county that would let you vote all night long, and the bill says no more. Texans are maybe crying, considering how much fun it must be to skip to the polls at 4 a.m.

The bill does do away with drive-through voting used as an expeditious pandemic emergency measure, and that’s considered something like a high-crime and misdemeanor because Black voters liked it. While the business of parking and waiting in line may not be great fun for any race, it’s not equivalent to literacy tests used in the Jim Crow South to keep Black Americans from voting.

Today’s Democratic senators in Washington are not just huffing and puffing about Texas, but about Georgia and Florida and any other state improving things. One solution? Have as many unwatched, vulnerable mail-in ballot drop boxes as possible even though the pandemic has shrunk and scads of mailboxes are available.

To be fair, the senators may be unaware of mailboxes. In their own outlandish, constitutionally negligent bill they want less supervision, fewer poll watchers, something like total federal control of every inch of federal elections and less concern about checking out registrations.

A main Democratic worry is voter ID laws that back up honesty. A chief Democratic enthusiasm is widespread use of mail-in ballots that might fail that test. There can be lots of confusion in many directions and the Democrats even favor harvesting, that is, allowing a stranger to take your ballot to deliver it with no way of you knowing what he or she actually does with it.

In other words, Biden is ready for action and maybe even wants to fire 50 Republican U.S. senators and replace them with the 50 visiting Democratic House members from Texas — a theory, I must confess, that is as plausible as his Civil War musings.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at