Yelling into the wind accomplishes nothing

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 08:07 PM

Call us crazy, but we don’t think N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis has rabies.

In some otherwise educated quarters, that apparently is a heretical thought.

Seeing a post on Facebook the other day about the photo-ID bill, someone here at the News-Topic who ought to know better – not real clear who that is, although the number of people who, if you talked to them, you would think would know better is pretty small – replied that the strong push for it probably is just electoral politics: 92 percent of Republican voters favor it, even though every objective analysis says the measure will make no difference at all in election outcomes. The point being, Tillis backs it because if you want to avoid a challenge in your primary election, first you make your home team happy.

The response on Facebook was immediate and vociferous – and entirely missed the point.

Were photo-ID measures as originally proposed in other states designed to suppress minority (Democratic) votes? In many cases, yes.

But Tillis and other Republican leaders have said they are willing to work with opponents to make sure the ID requirement is not oppressive and prevents no one – not one single person – from being able to vote.

We suppose it’s possible Tillis is not telling the truth. But how do you know unless you engage and try to work with the legislative majority – a veto-proof majority, by the way, even if the governor were a Democrat – to craft a measure that, though you think it unnecessary, at least makes you think it will cause no harm?

The response that the origin of the idea was malicious is not sufficient. The idea is planted, it has rooted, sprouted and grown, and it has proven to be a kudzu of an idea, that people wishing to vote should have to prove not only that they exist but have not also said they are someone else somewhere else.

Join reality where it is, not where you wish it to be. Photo ID is wrongheaded, but it need not be applied wrongly. If you can’t roll back the tide, guide it.

If Tillis is being duplicitous, that will show itself eventually. Use that if and when it comes. Until then, it’s a losing battle and a waste of energy to fight a measure with a solid majority of support that can, if crafted correctly, actually work. Fix it.