Is the Voter ID Controversy Really an IQ Test for White People?

Last Friday we talked here about the new voter ID law and the difficulty everybody seems to be having with the lack of difficulty. I told you that, after the first election under the new law, I, as a lifelong libtard, was extremely distressed by the lack of distress. I had been counting on mass disenfranchisement of racial minorities, which seemed not to happen. At all.

But I said all of that last week before I found out the Dallas County Commissioners Court is about to vote on spending $165,000 -- on top of the $145,000 it has spent already -- teaching voters how to comply with the law, in spite of the fact that everybody has already complied.

That bit, I must admit, severely stunned me, as in forcing me to sit down and stare at my shoes for a while. My perplexity was existential. I found myself pondering three things: 1) How did we get here? 2) Where is this? 3) When can we go home?

I do believe that the voter photo ID mania started with conservative white people who believe in their hearts that black and Hispanic people don't really know who to vote for -- only white people do -- and that minority voters always vote in ways that are somehow fraudulent. They thought they could ambush all the fraudulent minority voters by requiring them to present picture IDs, which included driver's licenses.

Then on the other side you had my team, white liberals who believed that requiring black people and Hispanics to present driver's licenses was a conservative plot to deny minorities the right to vote, which it was, except for a single factor that completely eluded the conservative whites and the liberal whites alike: Black people and Hispanics have driver's licenses.

Hey. What did we think? Only white people had driver's licenses? Did we think black people and Hispanics couldn't get driver's licenses? After the election went smoothly, did all of us white people, liberal and conservative alike, have a big light-bulb oh-wow moment where we said, "You mean they have driver's licenses, too?"

So what's with the $300,000 the county wants to spend teaching people how to have a driver's license? Tony Pippins-Poole, the country elections administrator and a disciple of Commissioner John Wiley Price, the county's most powerful black elected official, is pushing hard for a big-bucks public information campaign.

Why not? If I were black and I realized white people didn't think I knew how to get a driver's license, I'd say the same thing: Give me $300,000, and I'll figure it out. Next lesson: how to ride a two-wheeler. $2.2 million. I'd keep going until all the white people were busted, conservative or liberal I wouldn't care. Just show me the money.

So there I was over the weekend, staring at my shoes and feeling all existential about it, trying to figure out what's really going on here. All I could come up with was the notion that sometimes conservative whites and liberal whites have more in common than we think.

But if we're going to spend that much money on a public information campaign, I can think of a better cause to serve. It should be aimed at white people, and it should be a public service video about all the stuff black people and Hispanic people have that's exactly the same as what we have.

It could start by running through a list: eyeglass prescriptions, for example. Did you know that eyeglass prescriptions for white people and black people are exactly the same? Next slide: shoelaces. Exactly the same. Also driver's licenses. And voting: same thing exactly, whether done by whites or non-whites. Amaaazing.

Ready for the quiz?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze