White Group Last Week in Georgia Solved a False Problem, and Colored People Will Pay the Price | Columns | Orlando

At the end of the 19th century, Wilmington was North Carolina most populous city, and as one of its most successful maritime transport hubs. It was an unusual place: predominantly black, with a thriving black middle class and – most importantly – a multiracial government.

“It was a primary threat to white supremacy,” journalist David Zucchino said told me last year.

As Zucchino details in his book The Wilmington Lie: The Deadly 1898 Coup and the Rise of White Supremacy, two days after the November 1898 election – which the state’s Democrats won through fraud, violence and fear of rape of white women by “beasts” – a crowd of over 2,000 white men descended on Wilmington and executed the only successful coup in the United States. the story.

They murdered at least 60 African Americans, forced 2,100 black residents to flee and ordered the resignation of local officials. No one tried to stop them and no one was punished.

After reclaiming the legislature from moderate fusionists, white supremacists cracked down on black voting rights. In 1896, North Carolina had 126,000 registered black voters; six years later, 6,000.

Other southern states have copied North Carolina. For the next seven decades – until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – black southerners were excluded from political power.

Fifty-eight years later, writing for a 5-4 Supreme Court in 2013 Shelby v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that “things have radically changed” – “voting tests were abolished, disparities in voter registration and turnout due to race were erased, and African Americans rose to political office in record number “- so that the VRA section demanding that southern states obtain approval from the Justice Department before changing election laws was unconstitutional.

Roberts rejected the Obama administration’s argument that without the preclearance requirement, states would revert to their old tricks. that’s exactly what happened.

And so last Thursday, surrounded by white men in suits and sitting under a painting from a slave plantation, Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp signed the most blatant attack on black suffrage in a generation, while a black lawmaker was stopped for knocking on the door to the room where Kemp was signing the bill.

These are views that the Republican Party will come to regret.

Kemp narrowly won his election in 2018 against Stacey Abrams, a black woman, after – as Secretary of State – he enlisted in blatant suppression of voters. The law he signed, which reversed rules the Republican legislature had already enacted, exists because black people used those rules defeat his political allies.

Georgia Republicans have said they want to ensure “the integrity of the elections,” although no evidence of fraud has emerged. Sure, Kraken’s attorney, Sidney Powell, has filed fanciful lawsuits alleging all manner of savage conspiracies, but in the face of a $ 1.3 billion libel lawsuit, she said: “no reasonable person”Should have believed her. (At least that’s true.) Former President Trump also made all kinds of claims – while not threatening or cajoling the state’s election officials – but these, too, were fictions. obvious.

A group of white people solved a false problem, and colored people will pay the price. Funny how it goes.

The law adds unnecessary but cumbersome identification requirements for absentee voting and limits the use of drop boxes to collect ballots. It bans the use of mobile voting vans like the ones used by Fulton County. It allows poll observers to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters and requires county election commissions to hold a hearing on such challenges within 10 days. (No question of abuse.) Giving food or water to voters waiting in the long lines that always seem to wrap around black ridings makes it a crime.

Most frightening is that it allows the legislature to override local election commissions. In other words, the next time there is a close race, Republican state officials want the ability to rush to black counties on the metro, hallucinate about the fraud, and refuse to certify the election.

Without Shelby, this law would never have seen the light of day.

This is of course part of a model – not just the hundreds of voting restrictions crossing Republican legislatures across the country, but a model of Republican government over the past two decades. As political scientist Jacob Grumbach shows in a new work document, “Republican control of state government … dramatically reduces the democratic performance of states during this period.”

In 2000, North Carolina and Wisconsin were among the most democratic states in the country. After both states were taken over by Republicans in 2010, their democracy scores plummeted as Republicans used strict voter identification laws and aggressive gerrymanders to consolidate their power. Today, like GOP-controlled Alabama, Ohio and Tennessee, they are rock bottom.

“The contemporary Republican Party is a coalition of the very wealthy, some big industry and an electoral base motivated largely by the politics of white identity,” writes Grumbach, “who each have incentives to limit the expansion from the electorate to new voters with very different racial attitudes and class interests.

If there’s one advantage to Georgia’s attack on voting rights, it’s that it will serve as a direct challenge to the Democrats in the Senate. the People’s Law would be a much needed check on undemocratic election laws. But to pass it, Democrats will need to both drop the obstruction and find 50 votes for the legislation.

This means that someone will have to explain reality to Joe Manchin. “We need to take a comprehensive approach on a franchise bill because we have had an insurgency,” he told CNN. “The vote was over. And now, are you about to introduce a bill that would divide the parties, and you already want to completely eliminate filibuster? ”

In fact, yes. See, Joe, when a party is ready to destroy democracy for its own benefit, you can’t count on it to be part of a democratic solution. See, for example, Wilmington, 1898.

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