Standing In Line For Democracy

At Ten Miles Square this morning, Jim Sleeper has a web-exclusive piece making the eloquent point that Americans being threatened by voter suppression (specifically the Texas voter ID law just upheld by the Fifth Circuit) should learn a lesson from protesters in Hong Kong:

When Hong Kong students named their recent demonstrations for democratic elections “Occupy,” they reminded me not only of the Americans demonstrating for economic justice in 2012 but also of Beijing protesters who carried a “Goddess of Democracy” modeled on our Statue of Liberty across Tienanmen Square in 1989. Now that Texas and the conservative majority of the John Roberts Supreme Court are implementing a Voter I.D. law to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of citizens who’ve voted legitimately in the past, Americans have an opportunity to return the Chinese demonstrators’ compliment: on November 4th, they can turn Houston and other cities into Hong Kong by showing up peacefully and en masse at the polls.

You should read the whole thing, but Jim makes a particularly salient point about the implied threat to democracy of those “patriots”–in Texas and elsewhere–who insist on the right to conspicuously display lethal weapons in public places as a gesture of intimidation if not a direct defiance of the countervailing rights of the community. As Sleeper notes, these right-wing folk appear to believe in Mao’s edict that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” But the most peaceful demonstration of all–people quietly standing in line to vote–can be a powerful refutation of cynicism and violence.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.