In Virginia, it’s still one mistake and your right to vote is revoked after the commonwealth’s Jacobin conservatives in the House of Delegates disbanded Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) No. 266 which would have restored the rights of non-violent felons who have paid their penalties to society.
SJR 266 was not only endorsed by the Democratic Party, it was a priority for Virginia’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell. So much for handing the governor a political victory.
At present, the power to restore the rights of felons lies at the discretion of the governor. But McDonnell wanted to make the process easier for non-violent felons who have served their time and paid their fines.
“I believe strongly in second chances, redemption and opportunity,” McDonnell said. By implication, those who voted against this resolution don’t believe in second chances, redemption and opportunity.
Of course, isn’t that what America stands for, second chances? At least, second chances is what America used to stand for. But under the groggy and befuddled watch of Republicans who would rather chain Virginia to a past that doesn’t exist anymore, Virginians who make mistakes and get caught will still have to rely on the good will, energy, and political circumstances of Virginia’s chief executive to give them back their rights.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be essentially a non-citizen; if you do not have the full rights of a citizen of this county, can you really be considered a citizen at all?
But the beliefs underlying the GOP effort to unravel attempts to give Virginians a second chance at full citizenship is just as troubling as the consequences of their actions.
Their beliefs are so rigid and glued to a world of privilege that they cannot and will not seek to comprehend the hardships that so many average Virginians have to face on a daily basis and the consequent opportunities to make bad decisions. Because if they did, they would readily understand that a person who commits a bad act is not necessarily a bad person themselves, a person unworthy of a second opportunity at complete citizenship.