Civil rights leader Julian Bond said last week that North Carolina is the new Mississippi, in regards to the new voter ID law. Bond’s statement drives home once again the charge of racism that’s been leveled over and over at NC’s Republican Government. The Republicans, for their part, have looked confused and uncomfortable with the charges and generally responded with something about “safeguarding elections.” And they are, they’re safeguarding them for Republicans. In their minds the goals of voter ID, closing voting precincts, shortening early voting aren’t to disenfranchise black people or students, the goal is to disenfranchise Democrats.
Now that the Republicans are in power they’ve made it very clear they want to stay in power. To that end they’ve looked at voting statistics from 2008 and 2012, and are trying to take the legs out from under the Democratic base. Take, for example, the closing of polling locations on college campuses, particularly at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). On the surface the move looks as racist as George Wallace wearing a bedsheet, but I’m also willing to bet without looking at the numbers that those precincts had some of the highest percentages of votes for the President in the state in both of the last two elections. The fact that the polling location at ASU (the opposite of an HBCU and probably the only Democratic leaning polling location in Watauga County) was also closed only goes to prove my point.
I genuinely believe that the Republicans in power, for the most part, don’t think they’re racist. These guys are the kind of people who believe that since we elected Obama, racism is over in this country. Many of them are from other places where the civil rights movement was something that happened on TV, for others Jim Crow is simply history, a dark chapter we’ve moved away from. They don’t have stories from living relatives about poll taxes, or literacy tests, or getting the shit beaten out of you for just trying to vote. These guys don’t think about black or white, they think about blue or red, and if the majority of black people are Democrats, well too bad, you backed the wrong party, suckers. The problem is, that if you’re disproportionately disenfranchising once group of people for the benefit of another, and that group even ‘happens to be’ a minority, whatever your intention, its de facto racism. So think about it, Republicans, even if you’re not racist, your legislation definitely is.