“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places.” Justin Clark-Senior Counsel -Trump Campaign
They usually don’t say it out loud except in the most private places. This Trump attorney was speaking at a private meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association — Wisconsin Chapter. Someone in the group leaked a 20-minute audio of Mr. Clark outlining Trump’s plans to suppress votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. States Trump narrowly won in 2016 and needs to win again if he has any hope of being re-elected.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) only recently was released from a Consent Decree after having been found suppressing votes in New Jersey where they had off-duty police officers standing at polling places, many with guns visibly displayed, wearing armbands saying, “National Ballot Security Task Force.” When the Consent Decree was lifted, RNC communications director Michael Ahrens said, “Now the RNC can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program.” What he meant was ensuring more people don’t vote; using a multi-million dollar budget to scare and misdirect those not likely to vote Republican.
While it might be timely to point at Republicans for their voter suppression. They were neither first or best at the tactic. Democrats went to great lengths to keep blacks from voting from the moment they received the right to vote. Federal troops in the South kept them mostly at bay during the Reconstruction period. But after the contested Presidential election of 1876 led to a compromise in 1877 giving the Republicans the victory if they removed the Federal troops, all bets were off. President Van Buren doubled down following year with the Posse Comitatus Act ensuring federal troops would never again take action on American soil. In 1920, Florida Democrats organized a statewide suppression effort during which the whole black population of Ocoee, FL in the same county as Orlando was either murdered or burned out. All because two black men attempted to vote.
The sad truth is that Republicans and Democrats have engaged in depriving black people and other minorities of voting when it met their needs. There was a major shift in the mid-1960s when the lion’s share of racist Democrats shifted to the Republican Party after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Since that time it’s been mostly Republicans engaging in the practice but often with the complicity of Democrats who went along with redistricting and gerrymandering to get some other benefit in a compromise.
Some Republicans wonder why black people are so loyal to the Democrat Party, calling it the “Democrat Plantation.” It’s reasonable in their minds that black people might consider voting Republican more often as they have some common values when it comes to social issues. My answer is that as long as they engage in voter suppression they aren’t entitled to my vote.
It would be nice to be part of a society where the people were allowed fair and honest elections. Republicans just began striking 234,000 voters from the rolls in Wisconsin and another 307,000 in Wisconsin. They allege it was to combat fraud which was almost non-existent in both states. The real motive was to make it more likely they could stay in power in those states.
Implementing a strategy of voter suppression is as if; exactly as if, they didn’t believe they could win any other way. From its inception, America first denied the vote to any but land holding white men, they gradually let others vote, even passing Constitutional Amendments that allegedly guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens. Currently, it’s Republicans who keep finding loopholes to impose their will but voter suppression is as American as apple pie.
Previously published on democracyguardian
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