Voter Suppression Thomas Jasen Gardner
Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” President Lyndon B. Johnson: Washington D.C. 6th August 1965
Except for the stale smell of last night’s spilled beer and cheap whiskey soaking into the swollen pores of the tavern’s wooden floors, the place had an ill-omen feel to it. I don’t mean that the dead drunks of past eras were haunting the bar; I mean that the happy go lucky patrons who were always part of the neighborhood décor were very solemn. When someone bothered looking up from nursing their drink, they gave me a grave look that made me shiver.
The castration of the Voting Rights Act VRA was a significant loss to the dead and live heroes of the civil rights movement. The haughtiness of the Supreme Court of the United States SCOTUS to sidestep the U.S. constitution leaves little reason for African-Americans to celebrate Independence Day.
As people mumbled under their breath, it gave others the courage to rant and rave about the Supreme Courts unparalleled judicial decision to stab the dead body of Martin Luther King in the back. “Those people should wear white robes with cone hats instead of the black rode of justice,” said Iron Mike.
The Supreme Court quashed Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The section that thousands of blacks had died to instill was now shredded and lying on the courtroom floor. The blood that was spilled to create this law is barely dry. “My father and I had to show we could read and write in order to vote,” muttered Old Joe as he limped to the bathroom mumbling about racial stereotypes. His caretaker grandson finished the statement with audible expletives. “ Now instead of showing my rent receipts and gas bill, I have to show citizenship papers by getting an G—D—photo ID I can’t get.”
Voter discrimination was so pervasive in the Wisconsin, California and New York that even President Lyndon B. Johnson finally saw the blatant examples of overt, sanctioned discrimination in his home state of Texas. The other nine states were southern regions with large racial demographics. They were ordered to get federal permission before making any state changes to impede voting values. “I bet none of them judges been no further south then Baltimore,” said Old Joe while he described examples of how today’s southerner discriminates more often then the admitted racists of the old south. “At least we had work,” joked the grandson. As late as 2006, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Voting Rights Act against 11 states after reviewing 1500 pages of proof that voter discrimination based on race is alive and well in America. If a state has no violations after 10 years, they need not seek federal authorization for changes in voter registration. Sadly, this has never happened in the 50 years of the law. “The law was vital then and more vital now because of Wisconsin’s plan to stop blacks from voting in the last election,” claimed the long term unemployed grandson. Encouraging voting has always been a vital component to insuring that elections are free, fair, and accessible for all citizens.
But instead of letting the lopsided bipartisan of legislators agree on agreeing without the partisan polarization that typically defines congress; SCOTUS undercut the voter’s decision that was represented by Congressional extension of the VRA till 2031. This was the conservative courts barefaced disrespect of congressional authority and power. How Congress could tolerate SCOTUS disrespect for the constitution and SCOTUS’ disregard for the power of Congressional lawmakers is traitorous. Least they forget, this is practically the same court that abducted the presidential election from Vice-president Al Gore.
SCOTUS said that the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional and intruded upon state sovereignty. This is the same court who agreed that the 1965 Civil Rights Act wrongfully hurt businesses and unions that purposely discriminated against blacks. State’s rights was the same line Reagan used to support a southern states opposition to Affirmative Action, that’s the same line Wallace used to support state opposition to equal opportunities in education. The Supreme Court justices advocated for racial segregation by claiming that black entitlement to vote was unconstitutional. When did a social responsibility become a privilege because you are black?
“Where was the Supreme Court when white entitlement allowed whites to bash my head in,” said Iron Mike. “Or where was the Supreme Court when the police used racist dogs to attack black women and kids,” chimed in Old Joe. These civil rights war veterans talked excitingly about too little too late when describing aggressive physical attacks and verbal intimidation against citizens who tried to vote. Including the illegal but state sanctioned scams used to keep blacks from the voting booth in the 19th and 20th century.
Today’s scams to block voters today are just as Jim Crow as yesteryears. The sacred right to vote is once more under attack by right wing extremists and conglomerate ideology. The traditional redneck states have already begun to embrace racialized voter restrictions. The so-called “tremendous progress” of black citizens is in contradiction to the ongoing and increasing health crisis, inferior education, and underemployed jobs that blacks have had to contend with since the foundation of freedom for this country. The dynasty of American racism is alive and well in the Supreme Court.
Why else would the court ignore the moral travesty of voter identification laws upon the old, disabled, and indigent? Why else would they ignore the conspiracy between and within states to suppress minority voters? It became a national strategic plan of racial oppression when different states statically chose to outlaw same day voter registration, shorten voting day hours, eliminate Sunday voting and create racist gerrymandering voter districts. The Supreme Court has condoned voter disenfranchisement in a country that is supposed to be a world model of democracy. The courts sinister connections to an aging and shrinking base of old style Confederates is meant to prevent thousands upon thousands of African, Asian and Hispanic Americans from being an electoral advantage to Democrats. Blacks can only chose between the less evil of two political parties. Extermination or extinction is not a paradigm shift in institutional racism.The legacy of the civil rights movement helped President Obama win two presidential terms. The impediments to money and power did not stop the fortitude and perseverance of black voters. The Fifteenth Amendment took hatred, bigotry and prejudice and replaced them with symbolic pride. But the 11 states most affected by Section 4 of the VRA, propagate institutionalized racism in subtle diverse ways that even dysfunctional Justice Clarence Thomas would condone. “That would require the only black Judge to see the evil, hear the evil and speak against the evil of racism,” shouted the pool shark from the back room while listening between stilted bets.
“The day that a redneck state like Alabama would let me vote, let me work and raise a family, will not happen in my lifetime or my son’s lifetime,” said Iron Mike. He is finally selling his deceased fathers Mobile homestead to white sharecroppers after losing the courage to move back home. “The fear is still in the air,” he added.
The day that a bipartisan Congress recognizes fear as a threat to democracy will be a cold day in hell. For Republican senators and conservative ideologists to adopt African-Americans as American citizens will take another immigration bill.