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Voter Suppression: The Mississippi Lesson

Written by Peter Grear on 03 July 2014.

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: It's fifty years since the passage of the Civil Rights of 1964 (The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965) and this is turning out to be quite a political season.  There are many unforeseeable and unpredictable lessons that can be learned by observing the advocates of voter suppression.  However, there appears to be a least one lesson that seems to be obvious.  Voter suppression has the potential to decide numerous elections in November.  The fight will be massive voter suppression vs. massive voter turnout.  The battle lines in this fight have been building since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 2013.  These contests are developing all over the country.  However, as during the “Mississippi Freedom Summer” of 1964, the right of Blacks to vote in Mississippi is again one of the hottest topics of the conversation. 

In this nationwide debate, a question that I’m trying to find an answer to is whether progressive Democrats are going to use voter suppression as a high priority turnout issue targeting Black Voters?  I’ve seen a few progressive candidates make a few passing comments about the issue but nothing that I think will get the attention of Black Voters.  If progressives don’t step it up, many will be disappointed in what will turn out to be a low turnout, midterm election.  I’m also interested in finding out whether Black Republicans will be a part of the discussion of voter suppression.

Currently, Black voting activities in Mississippi are an unlikely source of a bitter divide in the Republican Party.  It’s not often that Republicans own up to their efforts in preventing Black Voters from voting.  However, according to comments made by Christopher McDaniel, the US Senate candidate defeated in the Tuesday, June 24, 2014 Mississippi Republican Primary, by incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, he was defeat by liberal Black Democrats that were courted by Cochran to vote in the Mississippi Republican Primary.  McDaniel said about Cochran, “[They] orchestrated flyers that called me a racist,” he said. “They said I would end food stamps for everyone. They went into the same (Black) communities with speaker trucks and said that I was trying to suppress votes in those communities. They did every dirty trick in the book, behaving just like liberal Democrats do.”  For the record, McDaniel’s claim is a claim that one conservative Republican is making against his conservative opponent.

Rush Limbaugh got into this debate on the side of McDaniel (the Tea Party candidate) and commented that he found Cochran’s campaign reprehensible. Sometimes Rush is quite funny as he tries to justify the unjustifiable.  In this instance I found the humor.  He reminded his listeners/readers that what Cochran did was the reverse of his “Operation Chaos” campaign of 2008 when he (Rush) urged Republicans voters to vote in open Democratic Primaries to keep the Obama/Clinton campaigns going on to advantage Republicans and to the detriment of Democrats. The funny part of this is that he tried to justify what he did while criticizing the same conduct when done by Cochran.  

The irony is that, both Rush, McDaniel and many prominent Republicans around the country pointed out that Cochran used the issue of voter suppression by Republicans to turn out Black Voters to vote in the Mississippi Republican Primary.  Isn’t it strange that while Republicans are denying that they engage in voter suppression McDaniel and others are arguing at the same time that fellow Republican, Thad Cochran used the issue against McDaniel as a campaign issue?   

I wonder whether the Republican, North Carolina Black Advisory Board (BRAB), is going to speak to this issue.  I did my commentary on them last week.  I’ve reached out to one of its members, shared my commentary and requested an interview.  I’ve also offered that member and I hereby extended my offer to all of them to do a written response to be published in Greater Diversity News so that there will be no issue of them being taken out of context or not being able to fully respond to the issue of voter suppression.

Again, I’d like to know why Black Voters, whose votes aren’t suppressed, should vote for candidates of the party that is trying to prevent Blacks from voting at all.  I don’t even know if they will publically admit that the Republican Party is engaging in voter suppression. And as I stated last week, I’d be very surprised if the Black Republicans engage in a substantive discussion of voter suppression and more surprised if such a discussion is had that it doesn’t result in expanding the chasm between Republicans and Black Voters.  

I really believe that all Americans, Black, White and other would benefit from a strong two-party political system and I hope that the BRAB will succeed in making this happen.

Again, if Black Voters can’t trust the Republican Party to protect their right to vote, why would they trust them to fairly address other important issues?

 

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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on voter suppression.  To join the campaign to defeat voter suppression please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/votersuppression, “Share” our articles, and your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our website www.GreaterDiversity.com.  Also, to promote the campaign to defeat voter suppression, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to follow the above-referenced recommendations. Additionally, please follow us on Twitter at @yourrighttovote: (https://twitter.com/yourrighttovote)