Decades of racist attacks on voting rights have given the far right a virtual stranglehold on American politics. (And this doesn’t mean the neoliberal left is blameless.)
Republicans control Congress, the Presidency, the majority of state legislatures. You combine that with the fact that most Democrats only defend their corporate sugar daddies and the result is a heavily right-wing agenda sweeping America. Many are now looking to the mid-term elections in 2018 as an opportunity to turn things around.
Efforts such as Bernie Sanders’ “Unity Tour” are meant to lure voters back into the Democratic fold and also to the polls. They also hope to encourage new candidates to run for office. Unfortunately, they’re likely to fall far short of their goal, thanks to voter ID laws, gerrymandering of districts, and a system called Interstate Crosscheck, all blatantly racist moves by the GOP which purged millions of mostly minority voters from the rolls or otherwise kept them home on election day.
Courts are starting to take notice. Since March, Texas has lost not one, not two, but three cases alleging that their voting laws were racist. First, a district court ruled that congressional voting districts had been drawn to intentionally hurt black and Latino voters, then a federal judge struck down the state’s voter ID law. Finally, on April 21, a federal court ruled that the state voting districts were similarly rigged to “dilute” minority voices.
Now, many of you may be thinking, “What does Texas have to do with me?” Well, remember that what starts in Texas never stays in Texas. All these issues are rampant throughout the country, and we’ve only begun to repair the problem.
Let’s not forget that Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount efforts, though widely mocked and quickly shut down by the two major parties, lasted just long enough to uncover broken voting equipment in some of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods and other evidence of widespread fraud – as Lee Camp covered on Redacted Tonight.
Perhaps even worse than all the rest of these is Interstate Crosscheck, a system ostensibly created to fight voter fraud that, in reality, allows Republicans to block minorities from voting in some 30 states.
“Starting in 2013 — just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act — a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states,” wrote Greg Palast, an investigative journalist and one of the foremost experts on Crosscheck, in November.
Using Crosscheck, Republican election officials compile lists of voters with similar names in different states, then use this flimsy evidence of fraud to ban them casting their vote, under the pretense that they might have voted twice. Palast’s research shows how thousands of purged voters could have tipped the last election toward Donald Trump in crucial swing states.
And lest you think Palast is just some meatball ranting on a blog, the issue of crosscheck has been taken up by the likes of Rolling Stone, Abby Martin, and even Lee Camp.
Democrats have for the most part stood silently by while Republicans have led this racist, nationalist takeover-by-voting-laws. That could be, as Lee suggested, because Dems have too much to lose if their own (obviously, far less effectively-wielded) voter fraud is uncovered, or they’re just afraid that once America’s faith in the voting system is shaken, the ruling elite’s house of cards will collapse altogether.
For my part, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve just become addicted to compromise. The Republicans are like Dobermans, while the Democrats have been huffing the catnip mouse of corporate money for so long they’ve turned into the lazy, slapping felines in this video of the “most brutal fight ever.”
Regardless of the reasons, without a dramatically reinvigorated and empowered electorate, we can expect the Republicans to continue to dominate elections through 2018 and beyond.
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Among other things, I would say that we have to communicate the sense that this is beyond the pale. The parties will always engage in manipulation, but anyone who seeks to deprive other Americans of the right to vote ought to count as a traitor to his country. That simply cannot be an acceptable partisan practice.