- - Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Let us put the forthcoming elections into perspective. At least let us put it into perspective as the left wing sees it.

If, way back in the 1960s, you had wanted to gain an insight into how the left was going to break society down into a series of left-wing interest groups in the decades ahead, those groups always to be harvested as voting blocs for the increasingly left-wing Democrats, you would have done well to read Kenneth Minogue’s 1963 classic “The Liberal Mind.” There, Minogue adumbrated the “suffering situation,” the left’s fanciful assortment of constituencies from the very poor in the 1960s right up to today’s poor clods who stumble into the polling booth without a voter-ID card or, as we say, a photo-ID card. This poor clod may not have a pair of shoes on his feet, but what is crucial, the left tells us, is that he cannot lay hands on a voter ID. So we, blessed with our voter-ID cards, are expected to have compassion for him, and let the wretch vote anyway — possibly two or three times, possibly in polling booths throughout the city, possibly throughout the state.

It is sobering to note that the vast majority of Americans from all walks of life and from every racial and ethnic group do not swallow this left-wing hokum. Polls indicate that the majority of us favor carrying ID cards when one votes or, for that matter, when one enters a liquor store, gets on an airplane, enters a public building or participates in dozens of other responsible adult pursuits. Yet the left-wing Democrat — which is to say almost every Democrat today — considers being asked to carry identification into a polling station an injustice. I have even seen Jim Crow legislation mentioned.

The left has been dividing the American public into variations of the “suffering situation” for years. First, there were the poor and, if students of the war on poverty are right, the poor constitute about the same proportion of society today as they did at the dawn of the Great Society back in the late 1960s. That is to say, about $1 trillion worth of transfer payments ago. Then there were members of the black underclass, then the feminists (very loosely termed by the left “the women’s vote”), then the improvident Hispanics, then the homosexuals, then, in the election of 2012, the youth vote. Now these voters without proper identification have been identified as a “suffering situation.”

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has been leading the charge on their behalf. He might some day be called the champion of those without identity cards, or the Champion of Voters With No Names or possibly With Many Names. Maybe when in retirement from his exalted post at the Justice Department he can become fully engaged on their behalf. What will he do?

Well, arranging proper photo-ID cards for them is out of the question. What if they misplace their ID cards? What if the cards are stolen or these unfortunates lack pants to carry their cards in or purses? I, of course, have the solution. End this harassment of the Cardless Ones once and for all. Demanding that they carry ID cards is dehumanizing, and does indeed harken back to America’s unconscionable past. Let those who monitor public buildings, liquor stores, security checkpoints and other points of interest simply take the Cardless Ones’ word for who they are. I have read the touching jeremiads of Mr. Holder, President Obama and similar voices of conscience. They can be very eloquent, especially when they speak from a teleprompter.

It is not only the poor who do not have ID cards. I have heard that the elderly, the youths and certain recent arrivals to our shores also lack proper identification. Let them all be exempt from this ID-card rigmarole. The government will survive. The middle class will still carry ID cards. Possibly even the upper classes will carry them. Let Warren Buffett show his card on Election Day. It will be good for him.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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