Bill Murchison

Nearly half a century after passage of the first Voting Rights Act, the federal government continues to make and enforce highly specific rules regarding polling places and ballot make-up -- pretty trivial stuff against Jim Crow tactics like literacy tests and the all-white primary. Southern voting officials, marking this astounding progress, would appreciate the freedom and the trust to carry on unmolested from the present point.

The government, on the other hand, wants to keep the Waw-uh going just for the sake, it would seem, of keeping it going. Dig down a bit, of course, and you strike the real reason. Declaring the war finally over, and leaving the management of local affairs largely to local people, would mean renouncing a central purpose of modern federal policy -- to wit, signaling to blacks and whites and everyone else that the local yokels can't ever earn their government's trust or indulgence, never mind how they behave.

The bigness of big government isn't accidental. It stems from big government's unwillingness ever -- ever -- to lay aside a power or policy, once taken up. This is singularly bad news to impart. Worse, it's not even news any more.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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