No, it's not the brutal, hate-twisted racism of the old days. Today's Republicans are capable of adoring select right-wing African-Americans. The Jim Crow revival they're pushing -- the large-scale disenfranchisement of primarily minority voters -- is pragmatic.
They're outnumbered. They couldn't win a fair national election. What a dilemma for such a righteous political organization. Winning -- securing power, implementing their agenda -- is the whole point, and that means they have no choice but to put the big squeeze on Democrat-leaning voting blocs. And the most obvious of those blocs are racial and ethnic.
Democracy is as vulnerable to abuse when it's several centuries old as when it's brand new. And though
If blacks could vote, as was the case for the 10 years of Reconstruction, the center of political power would not be with the old guard. The point of Jim Crow was to re-secure repressive white political power in the Old South. And, as many analysts are now pointing out, that need is very much still alive today, represented this time around by the Republicans.
"There is no question in my mind anymore that the
None of this is new. Voting irregularities abounded in both of
In 2004, reports of voter suppression in minority neighborhoods and on college campuses -- voting machine shortages, enormously long lines, bogus voter challenges and much more -- were nationwide. And vote flipping and other bizarre behavior by electronic voting machines threw a pall of doubt over Bush's narrow, exit-poll-contradicting victory over
As Alter writes: "The big Republican victory in the 2010 election was essential to the
The suppression efforts include: voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements, which impact minority and low-income communities most heavily and have been compared to such Jim Crow-era tactics as the poll tax; the curtailing of early voting, especially Sunday voting, which has become an after-church tradition in some African-American communities; and the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, a particularly cruel game to play because of the way the war on drugs, in particular, has targeted the African-American and Latino communities, destroying families and creating a vast new underclass of second-class citizens. These and other measures could impact millions of people nationwide.
While these new laws are promoted under the guise of protecting the system's integrity and preventing (virtually nonexistent) "voter fraud," sometimes the real rationale slips out, such as this email to the
"I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine."
This is called fear of democracy.
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