If It Quacks

June 8th, 2011

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz got into trouble somewhat for comparing Republican attempts to change voting laws to Jim Crow laws of old:

[I]f you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and – and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did that in the America Votes Act and made sure that we could iron out those kinks, now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it’s nothing short of that blatant.

Andrew Sullivan, for example, puts Wasserman up for a “Moore Prize,” for “divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric.”


Divisive? Are you divisive for trying to illegitimately suppress voters of the other party, or for calling that out? Bitter? Are you bitter for trying to suppress the opposition just because the opposition wins sometimes, or for getting upset when Democracy is subverted? Intemperate? Is it a sign that you lack control when you overtly attempt to steal elections, or when you make all-too-fitting analogies to richly illustrate the injustice being perpetrated?

I do not see this as inappropriate at all–and am rather surprised that Wasserman took it back. Sure, the Republicans are not trying to suppress only black votes, and when they are, it is not because of the color of their skin. Remember the Michigan Republican back in 2004 who said, outright and repeatedly, that they had to “suppress the Detroit vote”–Detroit being a predominantly black city in a predominantly white state? Remember back in 2000 when Katherine Harris arranged the “felons list” in Florida that just “happened” to illegally disenfranchise thousands of legitimate black voters?

Yes, they are trying to pass laws that would stop blacks from voting–but not for the same reasons as the original Jim Crow laws. Those laws only targeted blacks.

This is worse.

Republicans are trying to suppress the votes of many groups this time–not just blacks, but most minorities, in addition to women, the poor, and college students.

In short, anyone who votes Democratic. I would not suggest that either Pappageorge or Harris were racists–I think they would have been just as happy to disenfranchise white Democrats.

How is that better than Jim Crow laws? It is a bit different, to be sure–Jim Crow laws were more focused on oppressing people than they were on changing the results of election. But is the new Jim Crow really better? In both cases, a specific class of people are being oppressed–blacks with old laws, liberals with the new laws. They just widened their scope.

Is it much better that now the reason behind it is an attempt to corrupt and subvert Democracy and grab power illegitimately rather than just to oppress a group because of racism?

And while the focus of the laws are political rather than racist, the methods are essentially the same–find some indirect way to identify the people you are oppressing as different, and use that as a filter, creating laws which intend to rob people of their votes based on that filter. If you are a college student (which means you’re more likely to vote Democratic) you change your address when moving back and forth in the summer; if you got screwed in the foreclosure game you’re more likely to vote Democratic, but you also had to move–so make laws that penalize people who change their address. If you are poor and have to work long, hard hours and it’s difficult to get around and spend time on non-essential tasks–make laws which require people to get special IDs, and restrict voting hours, making it harder for them to get through. And yes, suppress black votes as well, because they vote Democratic. And take down any organization which is doing the reverse of what you are doing–trying to enable minorities and the poor to vote.

Shame on Andrew Sullivan and all those who think it’s bitterly divisive to call out Republicans for what is essentially Jim Crow II, Jim Crow on a much wider scale, for no less hateful a motive–and certainly an even more corrupt one. This new effort by the right wing deserves to be called “Jim Crow,” and much worse.

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