The just concluded 2018 Midterm Elections shined a spotlight on voter suppression. However, Americans need to talk about the problem to solve it.
Voter suppression is the 900-pound gorilla of American politics. Everybody sees voter suppression but nobody talks about it. We must talk about suppression of voters because there is most compelling evidence that the problem has been around for years and it is getting worse.
In fact, Emory University Professor Carol Anderson wrote a whole book about voter suppression; One Person, No Vote. Moreover, Mother Jones alleges voter suppression gave Donald J. Trump (R-New York) enough votes to win Wisconsin the 2016 presidential election.
Why Hillary is not talking about Voter Suppression
Nevertheless, the big media, the chattering classes, and political leaders refuse to acknowledge voter suppression. Notably, Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) refuses to talk about suppression of voters – though it probably contributed to her presidential loss.
I suspect Girl Scout Hillary is afraid to break one of the old unwritten rules of American politics. To enumerate the rule is; “never question an election’s outcome no matter how corrupt, suspect, or sleazy the voting process was.”
It is time to throw that rule out the window and talk about voter suppression. Suppression of voters is destroying public faith in the electoral system. In addition, voter suppression is creating political chaos.
Voter Suppression is generating Chaos and Distrust
For instance, the Georgia governors’ race was undecided two days after the polls on 9 November 2018, USA Today reports.
Republican Brian Kemp claims he won a narrow victory but Democrat Stacey Abrams alleges there are tens of thousands of uncounted votes. To explain, Abrams claims there are enough uncounted votes to force a runoff election.
Nor is it just Georgia, the outcome of U.S. Senate and Governor’s races in Florida is unknown. The Associated Press reports recounts are underway, and a runoff is possible in the Sunshine State.
By the same token, President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) is sowing more chaos by tweeting about vote fraud. Correspondingly, it inflames passions and discourages people from voting.
How Republican Voter Suppression Disrupts Elections
The ultimate result is that the people of Florida and Georgia do not know if their votes count. Thus, both sides can claim; “they stole the election.” Ultimately leading to fear, cynicism, anger, and distrust. Hence voter suppression is sowing the seeds of violence.
On the other hand, voter suppression is not the only cause of this mess but it is a contributing factor. For example, the Republican practice of “benign neglect” definitely made the electoral chaos worse. To elaborate benign neglect is the deliberate cutting of money and resources for elections and voter registrations by Republicans.
The purpose of benign neglect is to reduce the number of Democratic voters by making it hard for likely Democrat supporters to vote. Thus, benign neglect contributed to the mess in Florida, Georgia, and possibly made it impossible to count votes.
Examples of benign neglect include failure to buy new voting equipment, new software, and secure computer systems. Beyond that, lack of staff; polling places, voting machines, and opportunities for voter registration, limits access to the vote.
In One Person, No Vote, Anderson makes a good case that benign neglect keeps the poor, urban residents, and people of color from voting. Notably, former Georgia Secretary of State and potential governor-elect Brian Kemp is a well-known practitioner of “benign neglect.”
Voter Suppression increases the Racial Divide
Voter suppression is making the racial divide worse because of allegations the practice targets African Americans.
“His actions were strategic, careless, and aimed at silencing the voting power of communities of color in the state,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson says of Brian Kemp. To explain, Johnson alleges Kemp used his position as Georgia’s Secretary of State to limit African-American voting, The Hill reports.
In fact, Kemp resigned the Secretary of State’s position on 8 November 2018; two days after the election. The Secretary of State oversees elections in the Peach Tree State.
To make matters worse, there is strong evidence Georgia’s voter is vulnerable to hacking. For example, a cybersecurity expert tells the Associated Press malware can easily penetrate the system and change voter registration information.
Moreover, Anderson alleges the Georgia Secretary of State’s office has not updated its voter registration software since 2005. Hence, Georgia’s voter-registration system is vulnerable to cyberweapons like North Korea’s WannaCry.
Thus, the whole process stinks – even if Kemp did not suppress a single vote.
How Voter Suppression will Ignite Civil Disobedience and bloodshed
Accordingly, Georgia’s African Americans have good cause to engage in civil disobedience and disruption.
In the final analysis, Kemp violated both the letter and the spirit of the Revolutionary War slogan “No Taxation without Representation,” if Johnson’s allegations are correct. Similarly, Johnson’s allegations revive memories of the widespread voter suppression during the South’s Jim Crow Era (1890-1968).
With this in mind, demonstrations, sit-ins, and potentially riots will be the inevitable result of voter suppression. The worst case scenario will be violence and bloodshed triggered by voter suppression. Thus both alleged suppressors like Kemp; and deniers like Hillary Clinton, will have blood on their hands.
The Questions we must ask about Voter Suppression
Under these circumstances there are important questions we must ask about voter suppression immediately.
First, we must ask why no Republican leaders are condemning voter suppression and demanding the party stop the practice. Second, we must ask why “moderate” Republicans; like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and supposedly “principled conservatives” like U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and the Bush Brothers, are silent about the issue.
Third, we must ask why white Democratic leaders have been silent about voter suppression. Why have people like Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and others been silent?
Fourth, we must ask if racism is motivating political leaders on both sides of the aisle. Are both “conservative Republicans” and “progressive Democrats” afraid of people of color voting?
Fifth, we must ask why African American leaders like former President Barrack Obama (D-Illinois), Oprah, and former Attorney General Eric Halder have been silent about voter suppression. Why are these supposed champions of civil rights afraid to defend such a fundamental right?
Finally, we must ask why the big national media ignored voter suppression for so long. Evidence of widespread voter suppression in Wisconsin surfaced immediately after the 2016 election, yet the “investigative journalists” from the national media were missing in action.
For instance, outlets like CBS, CNN, and Fox refuse to run more than a handful of stories on voter suppression. Considering all the print and airtime devoted to the questionable Russia investigation, the motivations of the media leaders are suspect.
Are decisions in New York’s editorial offices and executive suites motivated by racism? Is the white media establishment in New York in favor of voter suppression?
How to Fight Voter Suppression
Beyond the questions, America needs an aggressive campaign against voter suppression.
I think the most effective tactic against voter suppression is boycotts. To enumerate, somebody is paying for the vote-suppressing politicians’ campaigns. Hence, we can hurt vote suppressors by cutting off their money.
With this in mind, civil rights organizations must identify the major campaign contributors to vote-suppressing politicians and boycott them. For example, urge people to stop buying the products; or using the services, of any company that donates money to a vote suppressor. In addition, we must tell Wall Street it will be next if funds and banks keep investing in companies that back vote suppressors.
Specifically, the first target must be Brian Kemp. If civil rights groups make it impossible for Kemp to raise money, other politicians will get the message.
Making Kemp into a political pariah is the fastest way to end voter suppression. For example, the sight of Kemp holding a bake sale outside the Georgia Governor’s Mansion to finance his reelection effort will send a powerful message to would-be vote suppressors.
How Boycotts can Stop Voter Suppression
Notably, gay rights groups successfully used boycotts to force big business to boycott Indiana over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Then Governor Mike Pence (R); who is no friend of gays, backed down because of the boycott.
Likewise, a grassroots boycott forced Elon Musk to end his embrace of President Donald J. Trump (R-New York). In detail, the “dump Trump” campaign pressured people to stop buying vehicles from Musk’s Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA). Musk eventually backed away from his public support of the Donald.
Additionally, the gun control movement successfully convinced a large number of companies to stop working with the National Rifle Association (NRA). Hence, a similar campaign directed against politicians and organizations that promote voter suppression will work.
Americans Must boycott supporters of Voter Suppression
The NRA boycott works because companies do not want association with gun violence. In particular, the NRA boycott works by associating its targets with something negative–gun violence.
Therefore, a blacklist of companies that support politicians and groups that engage in voter suppression will have a similar impact. The blacklist will work by identifying its targets with racism. Corporate leaders will pay attention to the boycott because racists are pariahs in modern America.
In detail, civil rights groups can demand politicians sign a pledge not to suppress votes. Any politician that refuses to sign the pledge or suppresses votes goes on the blacklist.
Groups will distribute the blacklist to thought leaders and influencers; such as journalists, writers, producers, editors, musicians, movie stars, singers, politicians, business leaders, investors, CEOs, advertisers, celebrities, foreign leaders, intellectuals, and athletes.
How to Boycott Voter Suppression
Ultimately, a well-organized and well-financed boycott directed by prominent African Americans and others could end voter suppression.
The logical leader for such a campaign is the former President Barack Obama (D-Illinois). Obama has the prestige, moral authority, and bully pulpit to take the campaign to a worldwide audience.
Moreover, Obama has tremendous influence with white Americans and people overseas, so they will listen to him. The boycott will be doubly effective if people overseas join in.
Nothing embarrasses Americans more than foreigners criticizing their undemocratic practices. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s succeeded partially because of Communist propaganda about American racism.
To explain, Communist stories about the horrors in the South shamed America into expanding Civil Rights by. In particular, Soviet Propagandists used such tales to undermine American diplomacy in nonwhite countries.
Why we Must Boycott Voter Suppression
Just imagine how embarrassed Republicans will be if Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping joined a boycott of vote suppressors. I think Putin and Xi will join the boycott just to humiliate America.
Other celebrities that might help include; Oprah, Taylor Swift, Eric Halder, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Stewart, Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Patrick Stewart, and Beyonce. Even a limited boycott led by somebody like James or Arnold could have enough impact to discourage voter suppression.
America must talk about voter suppression and deal with the problem. If America fails to deal with voter suppression, we are one step closer to Civil War. History teaches that people denied the vote will reach for the gun.