McAuliffe’s Dangerous Game

by James A. Bacon

Once upon a time, when he helped run L. Douglas Wilder’s history-making gubernatorial campaign, Paul Goldman was regarded as a progressive voice in Virginia politics. If he writes many more op-eds like the one published Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, he could well become anathema to progressives. Not because he has changed his principles, mind you, but because progressives have come to toss around accusations of racism with such reckless abandon.

Goldman’s topic was Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring full civil and voting rights to 206,000 felons convicted of both violent and non-violent crimes. The Richmond attorney and political activist makes two critical points that dovetail with my critique of contemporary progressivism.

One is that McAuliffe’s defenders make unsupported accusations of racism and discrimination that only “make it harder for those fighting for honest change.” Specifically, Goldman tackles the notion that Article II, Section 1 of the Virginia Constitution — “no person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority” — was intentionally written to disenfranchise African-Americans.

To the contrary, notes Goldman, disenfranchisement of felons dates back to colonial times when only white men were allowed to vote. Moreover, Virginia civil rights legend Oliver Hill reviewed and approved the provision for inclusion in the 1971 Virginia constitution.

A second point is that the people who get so agitated about the injustice done to felons are remarkably quiet about the injustices the felons inflicted upon their victims. While felons in Virginia are disproportionately African-American, so are crime victims.

As Goldman writes, “For the government to suggest a victim or loved one is anti-black because she opposes automatic restoration [of civil rights] without any showing of contrition is unjustified. It demeans the victim.”

A strong case can be made that the process of restoring rights to non-violent felons should be made easier — no individual petition necessary. But blanket restoration for violent felons without giving the victim an opportunity for input or any requirement for the predator to show contrition should be prohibited, Goldman writes. “The petitioning process must not itself be punitive. Yet it can’t be pro forma.”

Lastly, Goldman didn’t make this point but I will: Finding the proper balance for restoring felon rights is not the sole prerogative of the governor. McAuliffe needs to engage in give and take with the legislature. Sadly, the rule of law is regarded among political elites as increasingly optional — something to be enjoined when they can harness it to advance their aims and sidestepped when it cannot. A couple of years back, I said that progressives should be cautious with the precedents they set — just imagine how worried they would be if Sarah Palin were elected president with the power to re-write laws through executive decree. Now they face an even more terrifying prospect — an imperial presidency run by Donald Trump, the man for whom everything is negotiable and “so sue me” is a business best practice. Granting presidents and governors power to re-write laws at will cuts both ways.

Update: General Assembly Republicans are filing suit to halt enforcement of McAuliffe’s executive order.

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33 responses to “McAuliffe’s Dangerous Game

  1. It dates back to Colonial times when only white men could vote but it’s not racist?

    • Peter – that’s the way these folks think….

    • The only-white-men-voting part was discriminatory. But if only white men could vote, restricting the voting rights of felons affected white men only; therefore the intent of the law was not to restrict the rights of blacks. Try real hard. You can figure it out.

      • Race and Criminality in Antebellum
        Virginia
        By the early 19th century, the perceived threat of
        free African Americans’ political strength in Virginia
        had inspired such harsh punishments as a
        temporary measure allowing for those sentenced
        to two years or more for a felony conviction to
        be whipped and sold into slavery.13 In 1828,
        this practice was dropped and a new mandatory
        five-year minimum sentence was set for black
        Virginians convicted of a felony, while the minimum
        for whites was two years in prison.14 This
        was the situation in 1830, when the 1776 Constitution
        of Virginia was revised and the state’s first
        explicit felon disenfranchisement measure, denying
        voting rights to “any person convicted of any
        infamous offense,” was implemented.15
        The primary questions of the 1829-30 Virginia
        State Convention had been whether to
        extend the franchise to all free residents of the
        state and how to apportion legislative representation.
        An example of the convention’s linkage of
        free African Americans to crime is found in an
        address made to the convention’s executive committee
        by then-Governor Giles in 1829.16 He
        extolled the “highly honorable…present moral
        condition of the white population of Virginia,
        compared to that of any other State” according
        to comparisons made by the director of corrections
        (then-“superintendent of the penitentiary”)
        following a visit to correctional facilities in other
        states. The governor cited the fewer number of
        incarcerated white Virginians, as compared to
        other states, as evidence of the “honorable” moral
        condition of the race. He also observed that the
        head of Virginia corrections had discovered,
        “[t]hat there were fewer convictions for
        Penitentiary offences by slaves [in Virginia],
        than the free white population of Virginia
        according to their relative numbers—doubtlessly
        arising from the comfortable condition
        of the slaves…[w]hilst the number of
        convictions of the free coloured, is about
        four times greater, according to the numbers,
        than either the free white, or coloured slave,
        population.”17
        The governor concluded that no good could
        come of the implementation of universal suffrage.
        Once the conclusion was reached that free blacks
        were prone to criminal conviction and subsequent
        incarceration, the framers inserted a phrase allowing
        for disenfranchisement for “infamous crime”
        and the simultaneous stipulation that only propertied
        whites could vote.18 The state’s explicit
        undergirding of white supremacy in the 1830
        revision to the Constitution of Virginia rested in
        part on the assumption that free African Americans
        were disqualified for the vote because of their
        proclivity for crime

        http://www.coopercenter.org/sites/default/files/publications/Virginia%20News%20Letter%202015%20Vol.%2091%20No%201.pdf

        • Larry, that’s one of the more persuasive pieces of evidence I’ve seen from you. I’ll run it past Goldman to see how he responds.

          • I have to say – that this has not been a secret for anyone who has even casually acquainted themselves with the history of Virginia.

            I’m agog – that you find this a “new” thing…

            not a history buff, eh?

            Apparently Goldman is not either…

            I have a theory – that people today are purposely and willfully ignorant of history – they just want to believe what they want to believe and if others say or write something that caters to that self-chosen ignorance – it then becomes a “fact” that they base their views on.

            The “facts” about race in Virginia are in it’s well documented history not what folks who ignore that history – say it is.

  2. An imperial Presidency run by decree. Now there’s a thought to warm the blood! Here’s fuel for that fire: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america/2016/05/17/c4e32c58-1c47-11e6-8c7b-6931e66333e7_story.html

  3. truth be known – the Virginia General Assembly has always had the right and authority to preempt an “imperial” Gov.

    All they had to do was pass the legislation that actually restored voting rights to non-violent felons and/or further specified what the law was and was not – taking away such discretionary actions by the Gov.

    The same is true at the Federal level where Congress has always had the authority to specify what regulations have discretion to do – and not.

    the current whining and crying is just more feckless excuses for legislators who have chosen to do NOTHING about major issues – just sit back and do nothing.

    so that’s what happens when you have such a cowardly body ..

    Lead, follow or get out of the way and stop your whining.

    Oh – and there DOES seem to be a difference of opinion:

    ” A.E. Dick Howard, a University of Virginia legal scholar and chief draftsman of the state constitution when it was revamped in 1971, advised McAuliffe that his order is legal.

    Howard said in an interview that McAuliffe’s action “buries the last ghost” of the 1902 Virginia convention that produced a constitution mandating a poll tax, literacy test and complicated registration requirements. “That convention was set out to install and defend white supremacy in Virginia, and it was incredibly effective.”

    “This is really the last prop of white supremacy,” he said.

  4. Imperial leaders are allowed as long as they are “progressive” democrats.
    The cited Washington Post opinion shows that the progressives are not even waiting for the election to start attacking Trump’s imperial presidency (which does not, and may never, exist), while ignoring Obama’s imperial Presidency (which is happening more and more each day).
    The courts will also suddenly find that any such actions by Trump are unconstitutional and must be stopped – and will enforce their rulings to the nth degree.
    So McCauliffe and the progressives know they can get away with this type of action and not have to worry when the other side gets in power.
    It’s just the way things are.

  5. re: ” Imperial leaders are allowed as long as they are “progressive” democrats.”

    right.. that’s how we kidnapped and tortured folks and told the SCOTUS it was none of their business because it was not done on US soil, eh?

    Here’s the other 166 Executive Orders Issued by President George W. Bush

  6. 1. To say they have served their time is to ignore that part of the penalty is disenfranchisement.
    2. We need state and federal constitutional amendments that permit the legislature to nullify an executive order.

  7. Here is the pertinent paragraph from the Virginia Constitution:

    “Article II, Section 1. Qualification of voters. — In elections by the people, the qualifications of voters shall be as follows: Each voter shall be a citizen of the United States, shall be eighteen years of age, shall fulfill the residence requirements set forth in this section, and shall be registered to vote pursuant to this article. No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority. As prescribed by law, no person adjudicated to be mentally incompetent shall be qualified to vote until his competency has been reestablished.”

    I note only two points. First, no felon can vote “unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor OR other appropriate authority.” Thus, it appears to me that the Constitution conveys full authority to the Governor to restore such civil rights.

    Second, the “As prescribed by law” language (i.e., the role of legislation) pertains to the reestablishment of competency for those disqualified by reason of mental incompetency, but that language specifically does not pertain to the restoration of a felon’s civil rights because it is absent from the prior sentence quoted above.

    I don’t intend to opine on the method by which the Governor has restored civil rights to felons in this instance, or the political soundness of such restoration. However, it looks to me like the Constitution supports restoration of civil rights by the Governor (or other, unnamed “appropriate authority”). I thought providing the actual language of the Virginia Constitution might help to inform some further discussion here.

  8. Dear Larry,

    One must begin this discussion of felons and voting rights, “in the beginning…” of History, not just Virginia or Southern History, but see the widest view of the matter. This site gives just such an overview http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000016 The question of whether ANY convicted felon, Black or White, deserves to vote, or ought to vote, for the common good, should be paramount. Instead, we are treated to the “Is it good for Liberal Democrats” rationalizations. In addition, while a Governor can restore A convicted felon’s rights under the Virginia Constitution, as you say, does that mean he can in a single sweeping motion give to ALL convicted felons this right? What if, using his constitutional right of pardon, were to free ALL convicted criminals on the grounds of “racism” due to disproportionate crime and arrest rates, saying he has “the constitutional power to pardon”; well, he does, in individual cases, but to construe a broader right to set whole populations of convicted criminals free, is to overturn the rule of law and bring anarchy into society, and government, while claiming “he has that power.” I fear, you and your allies are pitting the constitution against itself in a way it was never intended, because at bottom, you hate the society it is designed to protect and order their liberty. The results will be horrendous, until order and sanity are restored. This is yet another example where Liberals have enabled Donald Trump to succeed where ordinarily he would not. People are sick of the madness of Liberalism and want it put out of our misery, even if it means bringing in a man whom they personally do not like.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  9. Dear Andrew – first knock off the “liberal” foolishness. Any argument that starts that way is automatically into the trash.

    If you’re gonna cite pro-con then keep it objective and resist the urge to play silly political games.

    re: ” In addition, while a Governor can restore A convicted felon’s rights under the Virginia Constitution, as you say, does that mean he can in a single sweeping motion give to ALL convicted felons this right? What if, using his constitutional right of pardon, were to free ALL convicted criminals on the grounds of “racism” …

    you’r confusing the written law with what people believe….

    no elected official should ever take any action on what they “believe” which has become the politics of some folks these days …

    you act on facts and realities – actual evidence – not what you believe.

    if you bother to read the actual history provided – which is real and factual -you can see where disenfranchisement came from originally in Virginia – it was not a fair and objective rule that applies equally to everyone regardless of color or social status.

    re: – the “Constitution” – Andrew what do you think of the other states who have restored those rights ? are they wrong?

    how about A.E. Dick Howard?, a University of Virginia legal scholar and chief draftsman of the state constitution when it was revamped in 1971, and who advised McAuliffe that his order is legal.

    Howard said in an interview that McAuliffe’s action “buries the last ghost” of the 1902 Virginia convention that produced a constitution mandating a poll tax, literacy test and complicated registration requirements. “That convention was set out to install and defend white supremacy in Virginia, and it was incredibly effective.”

    “This is really the last prop of white supremacy,” he said.”

    Andrew – what this is a another example of – is what some folks want to believe rather than facts and evidence and doing what is right.

    Most states have restored these rights – and Virginia should too especially since it is totally clear why Virginia passed them to start with – it was not at all based on fair and equal treatment of people. That, my friend is NOT Constitutional – that’s evil and wrong and people who support it apparently don’t care if it is evil and wrong.

    sincerely , Larry

    • Dear Larry,

      Even if you are correct that Southern States adopted disfranchisement of felons because it would disparately impact Blacks, it would not, of itself, negate the argument for the disfranchisement of felons, since the argument or debate is a perennial one, over which people of good will have differed. The fact that felons have been disfranchised in polities for millennia, including in American States with no, or almost no Blacks, shows that while race may, indeed, in the South, have been taken into account, and even been its leading cause, that does in any way end the discussion, nor does it allow one man’s opinion, even that of a former legislator or jurist, declare it to be legal. There is the question of the letter of the law and the spirit. There is also the stark fact that constitutional law has been overturned by the jurists themselves, by not following either its spirit or letter, while constructing their own, often opposite meaning and intent. The hypothetical scenario I outlined, whereby a LIBERAL, for that is the preferred term, when Progressive, Socialist, or Communist are inapplicable, or at least inexpedient, grants a gubernatorial, or even presidential, pardon to all inmates because of racial “disparate impacts”, is not then very far off. That you seem to blame to White people for the crimes and failures of Black folks (i.e. “racism”) shows that we cannot agree on causation, human nature, or, even what constitutes, justice, or even good or evil. Similarly your outrage is selective, directed against the punishment of criminals rather than the prevention of crimes and the protection of their victims in the first place. We are finding that the attempt to found a polity based on notions of pragmatism and equality of outcome is doomed to dissolution, as its constituents are simply devouring one another. What is really going on is that one group, and a more dysfunctional one, is now allowed, encouraged, and implored to oppose another, better functioning one, which in recent decades, was unilaterally disarmed in the political sphere, for having subjugated them in the past. “Gun control” seeks to make that political disarmament into an actual one, so that they are unable to defend life or property, be it from dangerous criminals who threaten, or the government that enables and makes use of them. We have not ended injustice, only reversed their roles.

      Sincerely,

      Andrew

    • Larry:

      There are certain Virginia politicians who I see as being capable of non-partisan behavior. Chap Petersen is one, Creigh Deeds is another. Even Bob McDonnell was able to put aside partisanship during his tenure as governor. In fact, McDonnell pushed legislation to do what McAuliffe is doing by executive fiat. McDonnell’s legislation did not pass.

      Terry McAuliffe is not a politician capable of non-partisan behavior. Neither is Ken Cuccinelli for that matter.

      Therefore, ascribing liberal motives to McAuliffe’s actions is fair in my opinion. It would be equally fair to ascribe conservative bias to statements or actions of Ken Cuccinelli.

      Virginia has 1.7m residents of African heritage and 6.7m residents of non-African heritage. As of 2005 African Americans are incarcerated in Virginia at a rate of 2,331 per 100,000 while non-African Americans are incarcerated at a rate of about 410 per 100,000. Clearly, the odds of being in prison in Virginia are higher for African – Americans than for non-African-Americans. However, doing the math, there are 39,627 African-Americans serving time in Virginia and 27,470 non-African-Americans in Virginia jails and prisons. So, despite African Americans comprising just under 1/5th of Virginians there are more African Americans in prison than non-African-Americans on an absolute basis.

      Sometimes politically motivated behavior turns out to be correct behavior. This is one of those cases. While McAuliffe is almost certainly trying to help his friend Hillary this Fall he is also doing the right thing. The disparity of incarceration rates by race in Virginia demands that voting restoration be automatic once the prisoner has served his or her time.

  10. And while we’re at it. Below is a piece a colleague at Style and I did on this very issue.

    Also, with all due respect for Paul Goldman, setting him up as a
    “spokesman” for “progressives” is nuts.

    Bacon tends to overwrite and he has certainly done so in this case. The man really needs to get out of his right wing echo chamber and maybe talk to some real people.

    http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/rights-restored-five-richmonders-talk-about-being-able-to-vote-again/Content?oid=2330749

    • Peter, maybe I need to get out more. But maybe you need to read what I write before dissing it. While I referred to Goldman in the top paragraph as “progressive” by the standards of 30 years ago, I nowhere insinuated that he might be a “spokesman” for progressives today. I said quite the opposite, that he might be anathema to progressives now.

      You’re free to comment all you want. But try reading a piece and understanding what it actually says instead of imputing the opposite meaning. Then we can have a conversation.

      • Actually – what you wrote was this:

        ” If he writes many more op-eds like the one published Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, he could well become anathema to progressives. Not because he has changed his principles, mind you, but because progressives have come to toss around accusations of racism with such reckless abandon.”

        which implies that he still is a “progressive” but might lose his cred – and my point here is that he’s not been a traditional “blue” progressive for a long, long time and his only cred is that he was associated with Wilder and Warner in some capacity as an adviser.

        but the bigger deception here is the claim that “progressives” have ” have come to toss around accusations of racism with such reckless abandon” –

        do you not know the history of the Civil Rights Era Jim? Do you not know which of the political parties worked to push-back racism such as Massive Resistance in Virginia, the Voting Rights Act, and all manner of continuing racism in govt and institutions?

        you act like it’s a “new” thing and a “bad” thing rather than a continuum that has been ongoing for a long time – and in the minds of those who have been fighting it – not a “new” thing at all – just more battles to rid the vestiges of it.

        Now – if Mr. Goldman has been involved in those efforts that go back decades to address continuing racism – and now he is parting company because of “excesses” then I’ll make my apology but at this point – it appears to me that this is yet another case of presenting an issue deceptively and not in a clear way – to actually muddy the history and the current reality.

        Today, Conservatives routinely like to mess not only with history – but with current realities. They see things very differently – that’s fine -but portraying things in ways that are just not so – is now becoming more and more a practice…

        Like I said – if Mr. Goldman has a demonstrated history of fighting racism with other “progressives” ,but now says that fight has gone too far – then I’ll admit that I got it wrong.

        As I said – I’m a skeptic … until then and disappointed that we continue to have these different versions of how things are – these days.

    • The selection of people to profile in your Style article is interesting. All five were non-violent criminals. All five are trying to become productive, contributing members of society. They are the kinds of felons for whom most Virginians would be sympathetic to having their rights restored.

      Terry McAuliffe could have submitted legislation that would make it easier for individuals like these to have their rights restored, while maintaining restrictions on the 40,000 felons who committed violent crimes. But he chose not to follow that path. He chose to rule by executive decree, bypassing the democratic process of debate, deliberation and the weighing of complexities and nuances. His edict, which he surely knew would be contested, was designed to continue the “Racism, racism” narrative and ensure that African-Americans turn out in large numbers this November.

      • re: ” All five were non-violent criminals. All five are trying to become productive, contributing members of society. They are the kinds of felons for whom most Virginians would be sympathetic to having their rights restored.”

        so why has the General Assembly done nothing what-so-ever to do that legislatively and ceded that to the Governors – of which – if you check the history- prior to McAuliffe – thousands of them were routinely pardoned on an individual basis.

        why did the GA choose to not do what Warner, Kaine and McDonnell all ask them to do – and we know what their answer would be to McAuliffe?

        this is an example of what happens when they do nothing… instead of something – then complain when someone else does what they should have done to start with?

        So now – they suing the governor. Who is paying for that and who are the complainants? It’s not the General Assembly using taxpayer money, right?

        so what does that mean? That the GOP is opposed when the GOP itself has had decades to do something and did not?

        and you portray that as “progressives out of control”?

        Oh VEY!

  11. Dear Andrew –

    defending injustice and racism because it is what one side has always believed and even enshrined in a “Constitution” is, in fact, “justice reversed”.

    If you seek to actually delineate groups based on this distinction – I’m not that surprised to be honest.

    We obviously still have among us many overt racists as well as many, many others who claim they don’t “believe” what they’re doing is racism and that folks that don’t have those views are “liberals”.

    characterizing someone who:
    “A.E. Dick Howard is a legal scholar who has devoted his professional life to understanding the Supreme Court, the American Constitution, and constitutions of the world. He is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Washingtonian magazine has named Professor Howard one of the most respected educators in the nation, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Library of Virginia included Professor Howard on their list of the “greatest Virginians” of the 20th century.[1] In 2013, the University of Virginia recognized Howard with its Thomas Jefferson Award—the highest honor given to faculty members at the University.[2]”

    as “… one man’s opinion, even that of a former legislator or jurist,”

    is an example. Apparently in your mind A.E. Dick Howard is a “liberal”, right?

    Sincerely, Larry

  12. Dear Larry,

    I will plead ignorance on Mr. Howard. But to vest in one man’s opinion, even a learned on, in a momentous question like this is imprudent. I would like to see a range of opinions, but even he were proven correct, I would urge a Constitutional amendment to strip the Governor, one man, of such a power.

    No one can undo the wrong of the stealing of Africans from their homeland and binding them into slavery for 200 years. What we can do is protect the innocent today and try to make society less destructive spiritually and physically, while promoting greater economic opportunity. The Liberals support of enfranchising felons is just as racially conscious as those Whites who favored stripping of them, solely on racial grounds. The fact that Blacks have voted as a bloc against the interest of Whites, unfortunately, vindicates the wisdom of Whites of the past to disfranchise them. That Blacks could not live up to the high ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr., shows that Whites have every reason not to trust them or seek to empower them any further in politics. That is not “evil,” but is, instead, a great act of prudence to stop further state-based aggression from them and the Liberal “fifth column” that preys on its own.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  13. Here is Paul Goldman’s response to LarryG’s comment highlighted above in yellow. — JAB

    Let’s review the facts. We are talking about the 1971 Constitution, not the 1830 Constitution. Those playing the race card tell us the 1971 provision disenfranchising lawfully convicted felons was written by racists, or … with an anti-black agenda hoping to take away for life the votes of African-Americans. I have shown – to any fair minded analyst – this is not the case. Look at who reviewed it: Oliver Hill for example, the legendary civil rights lawyer. So did others.

    Where does this need to smear, directly or indirectly, good people for something this is demonstrably bogus?

    Indeed, according to the theory of those backing the Governor’s order, say those “racists” who wanted to disenfranchise folks for life gave a Governor the power to restore these rights with a stroke of blanket, automatic pen for hundreds of thousands of folks. How does this make logical sense?

    Indeed, according to the Washington Post and the state’s top officials, these “racists” wrote into the law a power so the Governor could, in one single order, give back the right to vote WHILE THESE FOLKS WERE STILL IN PRISON!

    So: Let’s try to look at it dispassionately, indeed the responder’s own response proves my point.

    The 1830 Constitutional provision may be the first in a VA constitution but it isn’t the first legal VA provision on the matter. As Professor Howard has shown, the concept of disenfranchising felons stems from statutes passed in Colonial Times when only whites could vote.

    As the responder points out, the 1830 Constitution restricted suffrage to white men only, and not all of them either since there was a means test of sorts.

    Thus, what I wrote is what logic deduces: If you lack the right to vote as a non-felon, then you can’t lose it upon becoming a felon.

    Thus, if only white men meeting a means test could vote, then by definition an African-American convicted of a felony couldn’t lose what he or she didn’t have in the first place.

    My analysis is restricted to the restoration issue, not a more universal analysis of the criminal justice system’s fairness as a whole. That’s a different issue.

    The idea of not allowing someone in prison, or serving out a sentence on parole or probation is a policy choice is the dominant American legal rule for 3 centuries and more.

    This is what folks were thinking in 1971.

    Today, I have been informed that the Governor’s folks and others say they never meant to question the motives of those writing and supporting and reviewing the 1971 constitution clause on disenfranchisement of felons. Rather, they are saying the constitutional provision, AS IT IS NOW APPLIED through another part of the 1971 Constitution, operates to discriminate against African-Americans because the felon pool is disproportionately African-American.

    This, of course, is an entirely different argument, one well-known to lawyers: a law neutral on its face yet producing a disproportionate impact on a minority community.

    Can we at least agree on a starting: That it is a reasonable policy, not related to race, to say those in prison, or completing their sentences on parole or probation or the like, lose the right to vote while still under a criminal sentence?

    Every discussion needs to start somewhere. If this isn’t a reasonable starting point, please let me know why.

    • Actually – it was not MY comment – I provided an excerpt from what I though was a well documented historical overview of the issue by Helen A. Gibson and was based on her thesis, “The Role of Race in the
      History of Felon Disenfranchisement in Virginia.”

      but when Mr. Goldman responds with phrases like “playing the race card” doesn’t he betray his own personal views and basically admits he is not engaging in an objective argument – he’s already decided?

      Once I see that – everything past that relates back to it in my view.

      and no – I do not think Mr. Goldman is or was ever your traditional “progressive” – ” Goldman helps Newt with Va. ballot” from Politico 12/26/11 and a certain irony – ” “As a Democrat, Mr. Goldman – who has a demonstrated history of success in expanding ballot access in Virginia ”

      there are quite a few other articles found on the web that show Mr. Goldman to be a supporter of the GOP… despite his earlier affiliations so I’m not sure I buy his “progressive” credentials. given quite a bit of contrary evidence.

      I was also curious – Did Mr. Goldman read the entire referenced “Felons and the Right to Vote in Virginia: a Historical Overview” which also discusses the evolution of the voting and disenfranchisement timelines he is opining in his response including the 1971 changes?

      he seems to be ignoring the parts of it not provided in the excerpt.

      the history is that at first – blacks were denied the vote but one they could not longer be denied the vote outright -that people worked to deny them the vote in other ways – at the polls and as felons – because they KNEW they were discriminated against in the legal system also.

      For myself, I see the entire evolution – the history – – as the complete context – not selected snapshots as “starting points” from which to “discuss” as if the rest of the history is not related.

      Read the entire article and see if Mr. Goldman’s response still makes sense in that larger context. I don’t think it does and I think Mr. Goldman is doing a disservice in the way he has chosen to selectively deal with the issues.

  14. Dear Andrew –

    If you plead ignorance on Mr. Howard -then you are pleading ignorance on the history – so you’re forming an opinion based on self-imposed ignorance of decades of racism.. that’s even embedded in the Constitution that you say you revere.

    The General Assembly is free to legislate and they are free to start a Constitutional Amendment process – they have many options to right the wrong and they have chosen to do nothing – even though they DO KNOW the history.

    re: ” What we can do is protect the innocent today and try to make society less destructive spiritually and physically, while promoting greater economic opportunity. The Liberals support of enfranchising felons is just as racially conscious as those Whites who favored stripping of them, solely on racial grounds. ”

    You blame “liberals” for what you refuse to do ….

    you cannot “fix” racism by “promoting economic opportunity” when racism is still affecting some of those whom you say you want to help.

    so you blame liberals while you do nothing yourself?

    and by your standards – A.E. Dick Howard is, in fact, one of those liberals?

    re: ” That Blacks could not live up to the high ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr., shows that Whites have every reason not to trust them or seek to empower them any further in politics. That is not “evil,” but is, instead, a great act of prudence to stop further state-based aggression from them and the Liberal “fifth column” that preys on its own.”

    Andrew – do you seriously mean the above words?

    sincerely, Larry

  15. Dear Larry,

    Having seen the likes of Black Mayors like Marion Barry, David Dinkins, Coleman Young, and countless others, not to mention other Blacks elected to higher office, whose names “we will not mention,” who have used it to target Whites, and whose rule coincided with civic collapse and unprecedented crime, while still enjoying the overwhelming approval of Black voters in their jurisdictions, yes, I do fear that Whites were sold “a bill of goods” as to the innocence of a broad franchise of Blacks. Why empower people who wish to do you harm? That’s the record, Larry, as I see it, not “the beloved community” of MLK’s orations. In this sense, Whites who favored disfranchisement were prescient because they saw that this would be the case. Were they wrong? And if not, why are they reviled for being right? In this society as it is, the wrong are “right,” and the right are “wrong.” The criminal are “innocent” and the law-abiding are “guilty.” This is surreal, a counterfeit reality; it is modern Liberalism.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  16. If Paul Goldman has become an anathema to progressives, so have many others. I enjoy reading his material which I do not see much these days.

    • I’m not at all sure of Mr. Goldman’s current political leanings and in terms of what they are – I don’t care – but I do care if he is portrayed as something that he is not and is using that in a deceptive way to essentially say – he’s a “progressive” who is aligning with Conservatives on certain issues.

      In doing a casual search of him and his writings and positions – he does not strike me as a standard “blue” progressive. I’m not of a mind to go deep diving on his credentials but I’m a skeptic that he is who he is being portrayed as.

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