Opinion » Editorial

Fighting the Power — Locally and in the Senate


One of the oldest shibboleths known to mankind — at least to the American branch of it — is that "you can't fight City Hall." It is also something of a metaphor for the whole of one's relationship to governing authorities — meaning, you can't fight the state, you can't fight Congress, you can't fight ... fill in the blank.

The saying has special relevance to two aspects of governmental decision this week, one local, another in the national sphere. And the evidence, in the one instance that seems to have concluded, is that you can indeed put up a successful resisrtance to governmental decisions that go against the grain.

In the local case, the Shelby County Electon Commission, had reached an arbitrary decision, as chronicled in Politics, p. 7, on changes in the allocation of times and places for early voting sites, with the August 2nd county general election and key state/federal primary elections just around the corner.

Large swaths of the voting population, primarily in areas of the county with Democratic voting habits, protested that the changes in site distribution were clearly meant to favor Republican voters. Newly added voting locations for the early voting period, June 13-28, did indeed tend to be in places congenially close for GOP voters and not so accessible to working-class Democrats and African American voters.

The official Election Commission explanation for the change was that the new locations were in previously "under-served" areas. Componding these changes was the commission's designation of the AgriCenter in suburban Shelby Farms as a central site open for extra days.

Take it or leave it? That wasn't the attitude of groups which saw themselves adversely affected, notably the Shelby County Democratic Party and the NAACP. After first protesting in vain, they sued, and, lo and behold, a Shelby County Chancellor responded to their case and ordered the Election Commission to revamp its plans.

The other case in point is underway in Washington, D.C., where Donald Trump, elected as president by the Electoral College, has set about transforming the U.S. Supreme Court into an ideological arm of the current Republican Party. This week Trump nominated as his second (and perhaps decisive) pick for the Court, Brett Kavanagh, an arch-conservative generally thought to be predisposed against Roe v. Wade, the Affordable Care Act, and other endangered precedents.

Democratic Senators  in certain red states face the Sophie's Choice of endangering their own reelection by opposing Kavanagh or curbing their opposition and allowing Trump to prevail as a means of avoiding possible retribution from voters loyal to the president. Given the de facto 50-49 odds now favoring Republicans in the Senate, what these beleaguered Senators decide to do is crucial to the outcome.

The bottom line is that they can, if they choose, fight the odds and oppose Trump's decision. The favorable result of similar resolve in Shelby County's early-voting case is unlikely to serve as an inspiration to senators in the nation at large. But you can't win if you don't try, and, if we had our druthers, we sure would like to see the senators make the effort.

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