Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Georgia Republicans Attack Black Voting

A constant in American politics and society is that white racists create rules to exclude Black people from enjoying benefits or from accessing certain constitutionally guaranteed rights. 

When Black people figure out a way around, over, under or through those roadblocks the racists retreat to a prearranged rally point and create new rules to continue doing (exclusion and prevention) what the older rules can no longer legally accomplish. The mid 20th century Civil Rights movements removed many of the explicit anti-Black rules. But there was always a backlash. 
Forced to let Black people into public pools? Close down all the public pools. Forced public school integration? Depart districts with Black residents or send your children to exclusive private schools which can legally discriminate. Forced to hire Black people? Hire some but make things so unpleasant that they leave on their own. 
Forced to let Black people vote, as if they are American citizens or something? Can't bring out the dogs, thugs, and firehoses as much as you would like? Well change the rules to target Black voters. We should remember the intellectual Godfather of post WW American conservatism and founder of the National Review, William F. Buckley, made a name for himself by opposing voting rights for Black people:
The central question that emerges-and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal-is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes -the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. LINK
Although Buckley later disavowed this view it was then and is now the driving motivation for many American conservatives. They don't like the idea of Blacks voting. So if Buckley were still alive (and honest) I think he would applaud the actions of Georgia Republicans, who, evidently shell shocked by Republican losses in Senate races and the Presidential race, have targeted Black voters with military specificity and extreme malice. 
Now, Georgia Republicans are proposing new restrictions on weekend voting that could severely curtail one of the Black church’s central roles in civic engagement and elections. 
Stung by losses in the presidential race and two Senate contests, the state party is moving quickly to push through these limits and a raft of other measures aimed directly at suppressing the Black turnout that helped Democrats prevail in the critical battleground state.

The bill that passed the House would limit voting to at most one Sunday in October, but even that would be up to the discretion of the local registrar. It would also severely cut early voting hours in total, limit voting by mail and greatly restrict the use of drop boxes — all measures that activists say would disproportionately affect Black voters.
A similar bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has indicated he supports new laws to “secure the vote” but has not committed to all of the restrictions.
Voting rights advocates say there is deep hypocrisy embedded in some of the new proposals. It was Georgia Republicans, they point out, who championed mail balloting in the early 2000s and automatic voting registration just five years ago, only to say they need to be limited now that more Black voters have embraced them. 
According to the Center for New Data, a nonprofit research group, African-Americans voted at a higher rate on weekends than voters identifying as white in 107 of the state’s 159 counties.

Internal numbers from Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group, found that Black voters made up roughly 37 percent of those who voted early on Sunday in Georgia, while the Black population of Georgia is about 32 percent. The bill would also ban what is known as “line warming,” the practice of having volunteers provide water, snacks, chairs and other assistance to voters in line. 
Now, after an election year in which Mr. Trump repeatedly and falsely disparaged mail voting as rife with fraud, state Republicans are arguing that mail-in voting needs more restrictions.
There is no new evidence supporting that assertion. But one thing did change in 2020: the increase in Black voters who availed themselves of absentee balloting, helping Democrats to dominate the mail-in ballot results during the presidential election. FULL STORY
 
The irony of course, as anyone who is part of the Black community or has bothered to talk to Black people knows, Black people hold just as many diverse views as any other community. There are Black feminists and Black patriarchs. There are Black socialists and Black free market fundamentalists. There are Black people who are pro-life and Black people who are pro-choice. There are Black gun owners and Black gun control advocates. 
There are Black people who are open borders enthusiasts and Black people who want every last illegal immigrant repatriated yesterday. And so on. The Republican party could and should be making its case to some of those Black people. It might even win over a few and become competitive in places it currently isn't.
But the Republican Party has decided to embrace white nationalism/supremacy or at least not reject it. There are not large numbers of Black voters who are white nationalists. Rather than attempt to woo Black voters, the Republican Party in Georgia and elsewhere has decided to attempt to prevent them from voting. Responses like that indicate that no matter what some Republicans might say about wanting a big tent, there are some votes that apparently just don't interest them. 
Think about how malevolent and spiteful a legislator must be to criminalize the act of someone giving water or a chair to an older person who's in line to vote. Former President Carter knows what's taking place. I think it would be good for both parties and the country in general if both political parties knew they had to compete for Black voters. But as it stands now, one party doesn't need to compete and the other doesn't want to compete.
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