WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Despite the election of President Barack Obama, the first Black president of the U.S., “Down South,” in the region where most Blacks live in this country, there is convincing evidence that the racist, White dominated political system is once again excluding Black voters, even as record numbers of Blacks now serve in elected offices.
This according to a new report: “Resegregation in Southern Politics?” by Dr. David Bositis, a senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
As they did openly during the entire first half of the 20th Century, conservative White racists are once again enacting legislation in Southern states which is not only “neglectful of the needs of African Americans and other communities of color (in health care, in education, in criminal justice policies),” today’s legislation is “outright hostile to them, as in the assault on voting rights through photo identification laws and other means,” the report states.
For example, a 93-year-old Tennessee woman who worked as maid at the State Capitol for 30 years says she has been told she can’t vote in the upcoming election because of Tennessee’s new voter ID regulations, according to broadcast reports. Thelma Mitchell has a state ID which she used when she cleaned the offices of Tennessee lawmakers, but she has been barred from voting because she cannot produce a birth certificate.
The Justice Department blocked South Carolina’s new law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls Dec. 23, saying it violates the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department said data submitted by South Carolina showed that minority voters are about 20 percent more likely to lack acceptable photo ID required at polling places. Backers of South Carolina’s voter ID law says it is needed to prevent voter fraud, but the state did not submit any evidence to the Justice Department showing voter fraud as a problem.
Today the racist, White, Southern, conservative party is the GOP. In the early 20th Century, conservative White Southerners dominated the Democratic Party. Democrats were in control then, according to Dr. Bositis, because all elections were often open only to White voters, period. At that time, Whites rejected the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and the 19th Century Northern abolitionists.
After Democratic President Lyndon Johnson pushed through civil rights laws in the mid-1960s, racist, conservative, White voters were lured to the Republican Party, first by President Richard Nixon’s so-called “Southern Strategy,” and then by a succession of White politicians who have masked their racism in coded, conservative, GOP rhetoric.
“White politics in Mississippi and Louisiana is predicated on being anti-Black,” Dr. Bositis told The Final Call. “The voting is so racially polarized. Remember, 90 percent of the White people in Mississippi voted for John McCain. That was more than voted for George Bush four years earlier, and you know the people of Mississippi like George Bush more than they like John McCain.
“You’ve got extreme racially polarized voting in some of these states. Then on top of it, once the Republicans have gotten control of the state legislatures, they’ve also gerrymandered Black voters into a comparatively small number of (concentrated) districts. The average Black district is like, 60-65 percent in Mississippi, whereas the average Black district in, say, North Carolina is like 45 percent,” said Dr. Bositis.
“Black state legislators generally elected in Black majority districts and long used to being in a majority coalition, are now almost entirely isolated in the minority,” the report explains. “Republicans likewise dominate the statewide political offices in these states. Virtually all Black elected officials in the region are outsiders looking in.
“This was not always the case,” the report continues. “The period between 1976 and 1992 was characterized by both racially polarized elections and those in which there was a fair degree of Black-White agreement. In the 1976 election, Jimmy Carter carried all the Southern states save Virginia and the voting pattern in the South did not show much racial polarization.
“Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 and carried four Southern states, including two in the Deep South. However unlike Carter in 1976, Clinton’s victories in Georgia and Louisiana were largely due to strong Black support, but also some meaningful White support. During this period there were many U.S. Senators and Governors in the South who were elected by genuinely multiracial coalitions of voters.”
But the Republican Party has adopted the racist, White ideology of the “Old South,” a philosophy of which Dr. Bositis says Black people are rightly “suspicious.”
White conservatives, especially those in the South are living “in a fantasy land that they’ve created. And these conservatives have really drunk the Kool-Aid, even a lot of Black conservatives,” Dr. Bositis said concerning the predisposition of many Southern voters to support candidates and policies which are contrary to their own best interests.
The states of Florida and South Carolina are noticeably different because of large numbers of Whites moving to those states to retire. For example, where President Obama only won 10 percent of the White vote in Mississippi in 2008, he won 27 percent of the White vote in South Carolina.
“Blacks and conservative Southern Whites, come from and hold totally different cultural values,” Dr. Bositis said. “African Americans think government should do things. The White conservative Southerners don’t want government to do things. They’re anti-federal government, and they’re anti-federal government because it was the federal government that defeated the South, and it was the federal government that imposed the outcome of the civil rights movement on the South.
“That’s why they don’t like the government to do stuff. When all the government was doing was building dams and roads, that was fine,” he continued. Now these Whites oppose policies and programs which would often benefit them, sometimes even more than they would benefit Blacks.
“They don’t care. In large part, remember, what poor Southern Whites always had in the South is that they were better than Black people. Even if they weren’t better off (than Black people). They were still White. I just don’t believe that for these people, that racism has gone away. It hasn’t.”
There is also a sharp philosophical divide on U.S. foreign policy, according to Dr. Bositis. “The White Southern conservatives are rabidly pro-Likkud. African Americans are very much opposed to the way Israelis treat Palestinians, and the settlements on the West Bank. African Americans–on a whole variety of things,” differ sharply from the way Whites think in this country, according to Dr. Bositis. “African Americans are by and large very pro-union. White Southern conservatives are anti-union.”
Republicans in Congress will hardly agree with President Obama on any policy, even those which are in the national best interest. The president complains that his Republican counterparts in Congress would rather see the entire country fail, than to see him get even a tiny victory.
“Yes. Yes. Yes. The answer is yes. You can stop,” said Dr. Bositis. “These are people who want Armageddon in Israel, because it will be The Second Coming. These people (White conservatives) hate Jews. They hate Jews. And the Jews that don’t accept Jesus after this Second Coming are all going to be cast into the fire.
“These people disproportionately have fundamentalist religious beliefs. They feel like the world’s demographic changes are really throwing these people for a loop. Yes, if it prevented Obama from being re-elected, they would take (the country) back to the 1930s,” he continued.
“At least back in the 1930s Black people had no rights, and knew their place, or got hung,” said Dr. Bositis, who comes from Puritan, New England, abolitionist roots.
White Southern Republicans are not even being honest, he said, when they proclaim their patriotism. “When they talk about ‘loyalty to the government,’ maybe they have loyalty to their state governments, but they most certainly are not loyal to the government of the United States. They took up arms against it. They will always be traitors in my mind. So they are not loyal.
“I have said, to a number of different people, ‘How can these people do nothing, when they know that there are these really bad things that are going to happen if they do nothing? Don’t they care?’ I have said that at least for the last year.”
Dr. Bositis is a graduate of Northwestern University. He earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University. He has been affiliated with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies since 1990. He is the author, co-author or editor of six books concerning voting rights and minority representation. He has written many OP-Ed articles for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers, and he has taught political science and sociology at the George Washington University and at New York’s SUNY-Potsdam. He is a voting rights and redistricting expert, and has appeared as an expert witness in both state and federal courts.
The plot to dilute the Black vote (FCN, 11-01-2011)