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Lovers? Nah. Virginia Is For Losers

Put down those pencils, the essay section is cancelled.......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 14, 2010.

It's long been noted that for a nation supposedly dedicated to individuals and individual freedom, that a great deal of time is spent participating in a class system and trying to advance within it. For all the talk about level playing fields and initiative and gumption and that hard work and maybe some good luck are rewarded, a great deal of time is spent trying to strip mine and fortify that mythical level field of honest endeavor. It's draped with the gossamer of other issues to deflect that realization, but you can still see the outlines of what it actually is.

The State of Virginia has been in the news of late, primarily because its supposedly courageous Attorney General is going to sue the feds over the health care initiative to get it overturned because it was, he said, unconstitutional. This met with universal scorn and derision from everyone, including many conservatives, and those inexperienced concluded that the AG was simply a posturing idiot and ignorant of constitutional law. Maybe. Well, perhaps certainly, but that wasn't the reason he planted his flag on that dubious issue, nor the reason other state attorney generals joined him, including Colorado's.

It was merely an announcement that he was anti-Obama and willing to provide plausible deniability to bigots looking for cover. The South is good at this, once claiming its citizenry wasn't prejudiced against blacks, oh no, they were just for state rights which was part of the nation's heritage, don't ya know. But when Northern states had exercised it and would not return escaped slaves, the South hated those rights. Only after they lost the Civil War did the South suddenly love states rights, and flew the rebel flag which during the Civil War they would not.

But the vast majority of unaccomplished white American males continued to suffer in the South, as everywhere. Women, minorities, modern immigrants all competed for their jobs, including the safety net jobs that those males had traditionally been able to fall back on, like military vets could always work for the post office. Status granted by birth simply by being white and male in this country was going away. This week, Virginia's governor Bob McDonnell broadened his appeal to seething conservatives. In February, he rolled back discrimination protections for gay state workers. Then, he declared April Confederate History month. His proclamation made no mention of slavery, which offended some. There was another omitted word that should have offended all, though. Treason.

Now, to coddle the increasingly beset that they won't have to walk the walk under white regression, Virginia now wants criminal felons, who normally would be allowed to vote once their sentence is over, to have to submit an essay extolling their contributions to society since their release in order to be able to vote. This was exactly like the Jim Crow laws which required blacks to exhibit a level of literacy few of the whites had in order to vote or even register to vote up till the Civil Rights Act. It's designed to keep people once convicted of felonies from ever voting, and this by intimidation.

This caught and held my attention, because I am a convicted felon and served time. I had always assumed that being on probation was still a form of incarceration, and the law disallowed those incarcerated from voting in Colorado as elsewhere, so I never tried till my time in the legal system was up. To my surprise, I found I was still on the voter rolls. Then, involved with this topic in exchanges in the Daily Camera, I discovered I actually could have voted while out on probation. I recalled my various probation officers, my half-way house counselors, the City Clerk and even my Public Defender had all pretended to insufficient knowledge of whether I or others like me could vote, gave different advice to resolve it, and were apparently happy depriving me and others of the vote by mis- or no information.

I would be hypocritical if I didn't admit that I do not think people on probation or parole or any form of incarceration should be allowed to vote at all, but that when the sentence is over full rights should be returned. Otherwise, you have an official alternate and inferior class of free citizen. Conservatives think all criminals vote Democratic, because most minorities vote Democratic, and they are all on the dole. Conservatives also think the drug problem is also a minority problem, rather than admit that the vast majority of criminals and drug addicts in this nation are white and male. So, they think they're striking a blow for God by depriving inferior people of their legal vote.

It's one of the things I'm glad I now appreciate more fully, having served my time.