How Will A White Minority, Represented By The Republican Party, Win Future Elections? By Voter Suppression, Of Course!

Ed Raymond

Back in 1958, a bright seventh grader, the son of teachers in Columbia, South Carolina, started a letter-writing campaign to get appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy because he was interested in the military, science, and mathematics.  His letters were directed to the South Carolina congressional delegation responsible for selecting and appointing candidates to the service academies. Not a single South Carolina senator or representative would acknowledge his letters for years. Nor would they consider appointing him.

   Early in 1964, an aide to President Lyndon Baines Johnson brought a letter from Charles Bolden outlining his academic history and problems in getting an appointment to the Naval Academy. LBJ told his aide, “See to it that this young man is appointed to the Naval Academy, but don’t tell him how it happened.” The aide had a Navy recruiter appear on the doorstep of the Bolden home in Columbia and tell Charles, “You are going to the Naval Academy. That’s all I’m at liberty to tell you.”
  Bolden graduated from the Academy in 1968 with a degree in electrical science and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He was elected president of the class of 1968 by his classmates. Bolden then became a Marine Corps fighter-bomber pilot, flying more than 100 combat missions over South and North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in an A-6A Intruder. After the war, Bolden became a Marine Corps test pilot and later was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1980. Bolden is a veteran of four space flights for a total of 680 hours in space and was flight commander in a 1992 Atlantis shuttle flight that had 143 orbits.
   Bolden retired as a Major General in the Marine Corps and is currently NASA Administrator, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Bolden is the first African-American head of NASA—and the first human being to have his voice broadcast on the surface of Mars, one of NASA’s landing objectives in the future.

On What Planet Does The Supreme Court Conservative Majority Reside? Mars?

   Technically, Bolden had to have a member of Congress select and appoint him as an Academy candidate. LBJ made “arrangements” with an Illinois representative for the appointment. Bolden has never met the man. The Supreme Court  conservatives—Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy—struck down essential parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the last Court session in another “activist” move to keep whites in power. In a 2009 opinion written after the election of our first black-white president, Chief Justice John Roberts opined, “Things have changed in the South.” From what? From lynchings to beatings? As late as school year 2012, Atlanta elementary teachers were using math story problems that contained such questions as “If Frederick got two beatings a day, how many beatings did he get in one week?” If you need that one explained, you have serious problems in understanding race conditions in the South.

   We all saw the viciousness of race in the attacks directed at Barack Obama at Southern Tea Party rallies. Political signs carried images of that socialist Kenyan witch doctor wearing voodoo facial makeup who was hiding his birth certificate somewhere in Trump Towers, Indonesia, Kenya—wherever.   Corky and I know Jim Crow and racial segregation firsthand from living in North Carolina  ten years before the Civil Rights Law of 1965 was passed. As a Marine Corps reservist, I also spent some time at Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot in South Carolina in the 1950s. The July 8-15, 2013 New Yorker magazine has a broad review of voter problems in an article “The Color of Law: Voting Rights and the Southern Way of Life.” The five conservatives on the Court should spend some time reviewing the last 130 years. There is no doubt that thousands of whites in the South were elected because of smothering voter suppression policies directed at minorities.

Black Votes In The 1904 Presidential Election In Virginia and South Carolina? Zero

   After our retirements in the 1990s, Corky and I motorhomed extensively throughout the South, ranging from Florida to California. We remember the news stories of the 2000 presidential election in Southern states. Long lines and lack of voting machines in black precincts. Florida Highway Patrol cars and city police cars parked conspicuously in front of black voting precincts. Roving bands of “election officials” and “lawyers” harassing and checking black voters at the polls. Voter suppression and intimidation was prevalent throughout the South in the last decade. So Chief Justice Roberts claims that “things have changed in the South.” That’s pure bullshit.

   Jim Crow began in earnest around 1890 by states using poll taxes, literacy tests, voter IDs, physical intimidation, and other obstacles to keep blacks from voting. As an example,130,334 blacks were registered to vote in Louisiana in 1896. By 1904 there were only 1,342. To Mr. Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito: What happened to the 129,000 voters? In 1965, Selma, Alabama was 50 percent black with over 15,000 eligible black voters. Only 383 were registered. Selma was famous for “Bloody Sunday,” when 600 marchers were attacked by 150  state troopers and other police, armed with guns, clubs, whips, and cattle prods. Some carried rubber hoses wrapped with barbed wire. Many were on horseback; some “controlled” police dogs. Lowndes County, Alabama, well known for being the Alabama lynching place where 80 percent of the residents were black, endured 50 percent of the black lynchings that took place in Alabama between 1880 and 1930.

State Governments Turned Into Fascist Dictatorships Run By The Klu Klux Klan

   The Southern all-white jury system was based on white registered voters. Justice was based on white supremacy and vigilantism. As late as 1958, a black worker was convicted for stealing $1.95 from a white woman he worked for. He was sentenced to death—and the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the sentence! This case aroused such an outcry overseas that Governor James (“Big Jim”) Folsum finally commuted the sentence.  Mississippi was probably worse than Alabama and Louisiana. Mississippi was almost 50 percent black in the 1960s but only 6.4 percent residents were registered to vote. In Mississippi alone in 1964, 35 black churches were burned to the ground and 30 other buildings were bombed. Records indicate 80 blacks were beaten and six were murdered during this period. No convictions, Mr. Roberts. The New Yorker article puts it bluntly: “Voting rights went to the very heart of the Southern way of life.”

   So you want to register blacks to vote? Here’s what some states did to thwart black voter registration. When the Southern Leadership Conference sponsored a voter registration drive in Louisiana, suddenly the state reviewed voter rolls and removed 10,000 blacks. When drives were held in the Mississippi Delta, two counties, Sunflower and LeFlore, had distribution of federal food surpluses completely cut off. In Sunflower only 161 of 13,524 eligibles were registered. In LeFlore County 22,000 blacks lost relief payments.
   Absolute terror was the ultimate weapon in voter suppression. In 1963 Hartman Turnbow tried to register to vote in Mississippi. His farmhouse was bombed but he succeeded in driving off the bombers in a gun battle. When the sheriff arrived to investigate the bombing, he arrested Turnbow and charged him with bombing his own house. Yes, Mr. Roberts, Scalia, et al., things sure have changed in the good ol’ South. In 2006 Congress renewed the Voting Rights law by a 390-22 vote in the House and a 98-0 vote in the Senate. Yes, Mr. Roberts, something magical happened in the South in the last seven years.

Will Voter Fraud Charges, Voter Roll Purges, Gerrymandering, Registration Hurdles, Voting-Machine Tampering, Voter ID Complexities, Corporate Financing, Elimination Of Early Voting, Long Lines, Inadequate Precincts, And Other Voting Suppression Techniques Be Enough To Swing The 2012 And 2016 Elections To The Whites?

   I see voter fraud and voter ID bills are  dominating North Dakota and Minnesota politics. The number of fraud cases is absolutely amazing. Ask ND Rep. Jim Kasper. But I repeat: Between 2000 and 2010, Americans cast 649 million votes in general elections. We had 13 cases of voter impersonation sully that record. During that same time we had 47,000 UFO sightings and 441 persons killed by lightning. My God, voter fraud is staggering!

  Here is an example of conservative thinking by Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court decision to approve Indiana’s voter ID law. When a lawyer opposed to the voter ID bill said an average bus trip of 17 miles getting info to get an ID would take an entire work day for the poor, Scalia voted the law was fair because “17 miles is 17 miles for the rich and 17 miles for the poor.” This is certainly “original thinking” by Scalia, who thinks our gun laws should be based on the musket of 1789. Do you think Bill Gates has the same approach to 17 miles as the poor single woman on food stamps traveling to get a birth certificate costing her many dollars? So what kind of thinking goes into believing that 17 miles for a rich man is the same chore for a poor woman going 17 miles? That’s Scalia’s idea of equality? Does he ever read the Constitution and its meaning of equality?

   In the last ten years, 46 states submitted over 1,000 bills emphasizing some form of  voter suppression. Mr. Roberts and cohorts, why would all of these states try to suppress the vote of minorities if “the South has changed”? As soon as the Voter Rights law was decimated by the Court’s conservative majority, Republican legislators flooded legislatures with bills designed to suppress minority voting. Florida and Iowa immediately made sure that non-violent felons who have served their time would still have to wait as long as five years to get their right to vote restored. How do you explain that kind of voter suppression, Mr. Roberts? Is it because 60 percent of prisoner-felons are black and Latino?  Do you and your cohorts know that 11 percent of voting-age citizens do not have a government-issued ID? Of course you do. That’s why you voted to devastate the Voting Rights law.

Another Institution That
Has Lost Its Way

   Our country is a better one because LBJ made it possible for a black Charles Bolden to grace the skies as a Marine officer, combat pilot, test pilot, and shuttle astronaut and commander. Bolden is able to live the American Dream as NASA director. A very political Supreme Court has lost its way and the support of the American people on the voting rights issue. And now we have another institution trying to solve some of its problems with a double-double sainthood for popes. Pope John XXIII tried to jerk the Catholic Church into the modern world. But then came Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger of the Inquisition), failing to control the sexual abuse of priests, bishops, and cardinals for a quarter of a century. The picture of Pope John Paul blessing Father Marcial Maciel of Christ’s Legionnaires is a symbol of that failure. Providing Cardinal Law of Boston a safehouse and church in Rome sent another strong message to priests.

Pope Francis is trying to bring the two wings of the church together with his double canonization. It isn’t going to work. There is no saintly carpet big enough to hide what priests did to children around the world. And there is no way to hide the racism behind the voting rights issue for the Supreme Court either. It’s too late to have white power dominate our politics again as it once did in the South.

Southerners need to answer the question asked by Martin Luther King: “I have traveled the length and breath of Alabama, Mississippi, and all the other Southern states. I have looked at her beautiful churches with their lofty spires... I have beheld the impressive outlay of her massive education buildings... I have found myself asking: ‘What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?’”