Did liberal MSNBC hosts overact in their response to the Supreme Court Ruling over the Voting Rights Acts of 1965? Sure. Arms raised and voices high they used every last character of their "tweets" — come on English language, we can do better — to express their anger.
Is this surprising? Absolutely not. While liberals hashtaged their way into blind rage over this decision, conservatives do the same thing every time President Obama mentions the words "equality," "welfare," and the dreaded H-word — "healthcare." I do not fault either side for their actions though, as we have ushered in and accepted a new standard of "newscasting" that involves pithy and often insufficient messages that rarely report anything. Instead of presenting clear arguments for, or against, political events, we remain satisfied with populist appeals to the extreme. After all, they used Twitter the way it was intended to be used; namely, to garner attention in as little words as possible.
So, the liberal media took this ruling and went running with it, but are they completely unwarranted? Again, the answer is no; however, their reactions accomplish all but nothing by failing to articulate the heart of the matter. As these MSNBC hosts prove, it is a much more difficult task to convey conviction through argument than through sensation. Understanding this decision's flaws requires a second look, not at their 140 character zingers, but rather at the bill itself.
The section of the VRA that the Supreme Court ruled an unnecessary burden on the states utilized a formula created in 1972 to judge whether federal oversight was needed to prevent racial discrimination. If oversight was necessary, voting establishments would have to be approved in any action taken — this includes actions as seemingly innocuous as moving across the street. Some may argue that states have changed since the advent of this act and that the formula was wholly outdated.
Indeed "times have changed," but as we observed in conversations surrounding voter ID laws, discrimination has not disappeared so much as it has gone incognito. The degree to which discrimination falls along racial lines looks very different than the way it did in 1965; the avenues and manifestations of racially-fueled disparities have certainly evolved.
Those Southern states that wished to be relieved from their oversight may not have separate voting lines or require tests but they can manipulate ID laws — as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has already planned to do — so that race is still an all but explicit barrier.
Proponents of the Voting Rights Act argue that it has prevented many instances of discrimination by requiring states to answer to the government. I would like to think that the Supreme Court understands this and is in favor of some standard by which the government judges the most at-risk states. I would also like to think that states will not take advantage of the fact that they are on their own until Congress approves a better formula — if Congress does this at all. Fear for both of these concerns is what fueled the liberal media's response to the decision, a fear that seems correctly placed when set against the kind of attitude that the decision could instill.
This is the attitude of those claiming that the formula "should not be enforced in areas where it can be argued that racial discrimination no longer exists," and that there exists enough of these areas that we no longer need the formula at all. Oddly, I know of nowhere to which this applies. If you find it, kindly book me a one-way flight, but until then it would behoove us to live in reality and continue to fight discrimination in all of its forms — rather than just complaining about it. Just because we talk of "equality" and "opportunity" does not mean that we walk in it.