Category Archives: US Government

1860 and 2020

In 1860, something in the USA had broken. When a contentious, 4-way election produced Abraham Lincoln as the president, states began to make good on their threats to leave the nation. Even more ominously, the states that had once done everything possible to cater to the whims of those departing states were now resolved to wage war, if needed, to re-establish the Union, no longer on the terms demanded by those departing states. What led to that situation and are those conditions leading to a similar situation in 2020?

In her work, The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman explores that very topic. I strongly recommend it as a book for any historian or person interested in current events. And I equally strongly recommend close attention to the story of miscalculation on the part of the Southern Congressmen who trusted in threats of violence and secession to get their way while still preserving the benefits of the political union.

Is 2020 the same as 1860? No. We are not again at that most final of crossroads in history. But we are close. While the divisions are not truly regional in this current period of tension, we are nevertheless watching as resistance to threats of violence stiffens and attitudes towards a domineering minority change from attempted accommodation to exhausted, active animosity.

Before 1860, supporters of slavery would threaten beatings, duels, and street fights against their opponents. Their opponents would refuse to engage, which played well to both sides of the slavery conflict. Anti-slavery supporters applauded how their champions refused to stoop to the level of the slavery supporters. Slavery supporters mocked the lack of manhood and dignity among the anti-slavery faction, seen as too weak-willed to stand up and fight for what they believed in.

In 1838, Congressman Cilley of New Hampshire finally accepted a duel challenge from Congressman Graves of Kentucky. Graves killed Cilley in that duel. After that, things changed. Anti-slavery attitudes hardened against that act of violence: Cilley was seen as a martyr for the cause. Slavery supporters could not claim anymore that their opponents lacked valor, which had the result of forcing their own position to take an even harder line on the issue.

When Brooks of South Carolina nearly killed Sumner of Massachusetts in an attack in the Senate in 1856, it pretty much killed off any hope of reconciliation between the two sides of the slavery debate. The slavery proponents claimed that they had no recourse but to defend their honor with violence. The slavery opponents no longer called for the preservation of the Union at any cost as a slogan of appeasement, but of eventual military conflict. Those who wanted a peaceful resolution no longer saw a path of resolution together, but as a matter of “our side is better off without the other side.” Slave state politicians threatened secession: their counterparts were ready to let them go and be done with it.

Starting with the election of Ronald Reagan, the Republican position publicly hardened around the issues of a strong anti-abortion position and an equally unyielding, highly permissive interpretation of the Second Amendment. Other issues were associated with the Republican Party, but those were the most salient. Less well-pronounced was the full meaning of their “law and order” platform, which didn’t directly state a hostility towards minorities, but which did serve to further policies that had race-negative outcomes in terms of higher rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration of minorities vs whites for similar offenses. In time, the conflation of racist imagery with Republican Party political ads became more and more overt, leading up to the events during the Trump presidency in which party leadership failed to offer up meaningful criticism of racially-motivated violence, even as perpetrators of that violence evoked Republican leaders and talking points as justification for their violent acts.

Meanwhile, Republican Party opposition to Democratic policy initiatives and appointments hardened to the point of refusal to cooperate at all. This was perhaps most starkly illustrated in their refusal to entertain the nomination of a Supreme Court justice in 2016, claiming that such a nomination must be made to wait until after the election and then turning fully around in 2020 to rush through a Supreme Court nomination in the days just prior to the election that year.

Domestically, this inability of Republicans to offer up meaningful compromises with the Democratic Party itself led to questions within the Democratic Party on whether or not they should continue to attempt to compromise. Progressives within the Democratic Party drew more political support, particularly in the wake of the MeToo movement and a string of cases involving police brutality or other abuses in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Monterrosa, Rayshard Brooks, Andres Guardado, Dijon Kizzee, Daniel Prude, Deon Kay, Ricardo Munoz, Deja Stallings, Jonathan Price, Alvin Cole, Marcellis Stinnette, Walter Wallace Jr, and Kevin Peterson Jr, among others. As Republican leadership rallied around defending its own members involved in sexual harassment cases or who had made racist statements, questions of compromise evaporated further.

At the same time, hardening attitudes in Democratic Party were also accompanied by a rise in anti-fascist violence. While such antifa violence was only a fraction of fascist and racist violence, Republicans seized upon the very fact of antifa violence as a sign of the existential nature of the conflict they now found themselves in. Democratic Party leaders did condemn antifa violence, but Republican leadership rejected such condemnations or denied that they had happened outright. Ironically, voices within the Republican Party that called for a second civil war to “cleanse” the nation were not condemned within the party.

While 2016 still saw most of the Democratic Party leadership calling for unity and compromise, the events of the 2020 election in which Trump refused to acknowledge the election of Biden left the Democratic president-elect in the uncomfortable position of finding Republican leadership unwilling to participate in the normal bipartisan cooperation that follows a change of party in an election.

Such refusal from the Republican Party has left many Democratic commentators asking openly if the nation would simply be better off without the Republicans. While not advocating openly for civil war as radicals within the Republican Party advocate, they are also not refusing to consider such a scenario. While not yet a scenario like in 1860, or even 1856, current tensions do lie on a path that leads to a similar situation.

In this, the Republicans are exercising a similar miscalculation as did the pro-slavery faction. They have spoken loudly and bullied their way around the political landscape, but are outnumbered. Now that their opposition has itself hardened its position, they are at a point in their existence that demands reconciliation and backing down from their hardline position before they are destroyed in a violent conflict that they have no hope of winning.

The Republic of South Africa faced a similar watershed in its history, when the whites-only apartheid government came to a realization that it could not maintain its control. Faced with the options of peacefully coming to terms with the African National Congress or the possibility of war in which they would detonate the nuclear weapons within their cities and key economic areas as part of a Samson act to deny their opponents what they could not themselves keep, the National Party chose to take the peaceful path, resulting in massive constitutional and organizational reform. Humanity has an example of stepping away from the brink: is the Republican Party leadership able to make the same moves as its right-wing counterpart in South Africa, or will it choose to maintain its hard line and autogolpe methods to subvert democratic institutions in America and take the nation down a path of bloodshed?

Freeman’s book shows us the parallels between the antebellum period and our own day. Our nation needs a Republican Party leadership to come to terms with reality and to come back to the table of compromise before they go too far and find that they have placed the nation into a period that parallels the years from 1860-1865.

Ohio 2012, 2016, and Today

Fun Voting Fact: in 2012, Karl Rove had a meltdown during election coverage on Fox News when Ohio was called for Obama. Rove demanded that Fox revisit the results of the early voting. He knew that current Republican Lt. Governor, then Ohio Sec’y of State Husted had ordered a ballot switch for early voters, which were predominantly Democratic and Black. They were not going to vote on machines, but *absentee* ballots.

This was done because Black voters had started a “souls to the polls” movement after Kerry narrowly lost Ohio in 2004. Why did Kerry lose? Because most of the Black community was voting on the day of the election, and had to stand upwards of 7 hours in the rain, with the polling place doors shut in their faces at 7:30 PM, even though they were still in line to vote.

In 2012, the Black voters on “souls to the polls” day, the Sunday before Election Day, were greeted with a five-hour line in Dayton. In Cleveland, the wait was seven hours. The White voters in their neighborhoods, the next county over, had no lines. When the Black voters finally got their turn to vote, they were handed absentee ballots. The machines in those locations were under wraps.

Husted was a moving force behind the deliberately long lines in Black neighborhoods in 2004, and was responsible for cutting early voting hours in Ohio. A court order prevented him from shutting down voting on the Sunday before Election Day. Husted also made sure that there was only one polling place per county, so that rural voters could be in and out in a jiffy and urban voters faced nightmare lines.

But those absentee ballots – those were NOT the same as machine ballots. Once cast on a machine, the vote is automatically tallied and recorded. Absentee ballots can be rejected for all kinds of ticky-tack reasons. So even if the person has correct ID and a valid address for the voting location, that absentee ballot can still be rejected because of a lack of initials here or the signature going outside the box there. If about 20% of the absentee ballots issued to Black voters were disqualified, the Republicans would have won Ohio in 2012. What prevented it? A revelation in the media of the absentee ballots situation, most likely.

Because in 2016, the absentee ballots returned for the Black voters and there was too much of a media circus going on around Trump to notice the reporters crying foul over those ballots.

Did that happen in 2020? I don’t yet have the data to tell me, but Husted is still in Ohio. I know that in my own state of Texas, early voting was halted the weekend prior to election day and the Republican government here cut county ballot drop-off locations to a single site… thanks, Republicans, but thanks especially to John Husted, one of the Republicans bringing Jim Crow 2.0 to the USA.

Confronting the Racism That Comes to Me

We don’t get rid of racism unless we confront it. And we don’t confront it successfully unless we confront it within ourselves. It’s an ongoing, life-long process, unburdening ourselves of the constant flow of racist ideas that cross our consciences. But it’s also worth doing.

Step one is being able to notice racism for what it is – for that, I turn to Ibram X. Kendi’s definintions:

Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing.

“A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. By policy, I mean written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people.

“A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior to or superior to another racial group in any way. Racist ideas argue that the inferiorities and superiorities of racial groups explain racial inequities in society.”

— Ibram X. Kendi, pp. 17-23 of his book, How to Be an Antiracist.

For example, in many Republican Party political ads, I saw images of Whites being threatened or standing defiantly as Blacks, Hispanics, and Women were shown to be shouting and protesting. That’s racial inequity – the different groups were not on approximately equal footing. If one does not see a problem with that, then one has normalized that inequity – racism.

It’s as simple as that, and racism on that level alone is easy to work on, once one is aware that it needs to be worked on. Racism on that level is also the most pervasive in the USA, so it is a good thing to be aware of and a good thing to work on.

What about racist policy? Well, a law that requires one of a particular set of photo IDs in order to vote looks like it is fair and even. But when that law disallows Native American Tribal IDs – and Native Americans in that state have a lower rate of acquiring other, accepted IDs – that law sustains racial inequality. Even if the motivation for the law was simply to keep the Republican Party in power (the laws against Native American IDs are unique to Republican-ruled states), and not to target Native Americans in particular, the result of that policy leads to much more than the Native Americans not voting – because they don’t vote, they get ignored for other governmental considerations, ranging from law enforcement to access to government programs.

And what about racist ideas? We see that in the Trump Administration’s impact on immigration and refugee policy. Muslims and Latinx persons face substantially more hurdles and rates of rejection than immigrants from Western Europe, for example. Why? Look to Trump’s policy advisor on immigration, Stephen Miller. We have writings of his that spell out explicitly racist ideas regarding his view that White Europeans are much more desirable immigrants and refugees than other persons who are non-White and/or non-European. Those ideas drive racist policies, which leads to racial inequity… racism, this time of a deeper and harsher nature than racism done in passing.

So why do I fixate on the Republican Party for this discussion? It is because I can find multiple examples in that party’s advertisements, policies, and supporters. The Democratic Party has been active and effective at purging the racism out of their ranks – it’s why the Alabama Democratic Party went through such a major transformation in the last 15 years. The Republican Party, however, has not been uniform, let alone effective, in disavowing racism… especially when it actively embraces it as part of its national platform and in its plans to control voting access in order to retain its grip on power.

Why I Fear for the USA

To be honest, I was hoping for a massive repudiation of the racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice in the election results of 2020. Instead, we are dealing with a nation that has more people committed to those ways than in 2016, and a close electoral college result. In other words, there are now no negative repercussions for politicians that openly espouse racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice – the Republican Party will run you as a candidate and get you elected.

Because whoever wins will barely win, that means that the racially-skewed voting rights laws promulgated by Republicans will remain entrenched where they control the state houses. That means that the antisemitic lies told by Republican candidates and their media backers will intensify, because those messages resonate with an increasingly intolerant and insecure White population. That means the messages of intolerance directed against Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus will spread to other faiths that are not part of a Republican-approved grouping. That means that when their political leaders display gross foolishness in ignoring science and murderous cruelty in ignoring justice, the Republicans will fall into line and support that foolishness and cruelty.

This is not about any other group – this is specifically about the political party that is dragging the USA over a cliff of racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice, the Republican Party.

Healers cannot let themselves become enraged when yet another person walks up to them with a bleeding wound. The healers must heal. But if the same things, time and again, are injuring others, then the healers seek to find a way to control, curtail, or eliminate those things so as to reduce the constant injuries. In the USA, much of the woes in terms of poverty, schools, the justice system, and economic opportunities can be connected to a common thread – a lack of equitable and just voting rights for all citizens. If we want to solve those issues to the benefit of all Americans, then we must first make sure that all Americans vote, and that all votes are counted, and that all people are heard. Time and again, a Republican will lie about needing to clean up voter roles or tighten up voting rules in order to combat fraud – those lies mask a brutal effort to strip fellow Americans of their franchise.

And, in this recent election, there were no negative political consequences for those actions.

Those actions will continue, and that will be the ruin of this nation.

On Why I Am Pro-Choice

This is why, ultimately, I have to be pro-choice. When we look at the anti-abortion hardline position of zero abortions, anywhere, we lose out on those performed to save the life of the mother. We also potentially criminalize miscarriages, which has happened already in jurisdictions with strict anti-abortion laws on the books.

So, no, I’m opposed to strict anti-abortion measures. I’m also more inclined to align with the pro-choice group on issues of better access to prenatal care, better postnatal health care for both mother and children, and better financial assistance programs overall – and those measures remove demand for abortions through improving the lives of both the parents and the children. Pro-choice groups also tend to be pro-teacher and pro-universal child care, which a nation without abortions would need lots more of.

My church’s position is clear: it is opposed to abortion, except in the cases where the life of the mother is endangered, rape, incest, or when postnatal survival is in serious doubt. But not even those exceptions are permitted in a hardline anti-abortion position, so I must align with the pro-choice people. Not allowing those exceptions is tyranny: not advocating for better health care, education, and child care is unchristian cruelty.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/gary-peters-democrat-michigan-senator-abortion-family-b994475.html

On the Republican-backed PILF and Its Violation of the KKK Act…

I had a discussion in which someone brought up a concern of about 6000-8000 deceased voters having voted in the last 2 elections. These numbers came from a report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation. The PILF is a Republican-backed group that goes around suing states and counties to force them to purge voter databases that result in hundreds of thousands to millions of minority voters losing their votes. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a mule… worse, the PILF has been sued itself multiple times – and lost – for failing to produce substantive evidence for its own suits, as well as for violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and – brace yourselves – the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

That’s right. The Republicans back a group that violates the KKK Act. Go look it up, it’s interesting. You learn something every day, and I bet you didn’t bank on learning about the KKK Act.

The more people try to convince me that the Republicans aren’t shot through with substantial numbers of racists, the more I come across information like this that I wasn’t previously aware of that actually shows that I had previously underestimated the rampant racism in that political organization.

And the more I find gems like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the group that goes around violating it, all in the name of law and order and keeping our voter records white and shiny.

A Riot Is the Language of the Unheard

A riot is the language of the unheard. It is as necessary to condemn the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riots as it is to condemn the riots. Riots do not develop out of thin air.

Give the unheard a voice – give them the vote. When we hear of plans to “clean up” voter databases and how they unfairly target minorities, year in, year out, we are hearing plans to set our cities on fire as well as plans to bear down unjustly upon people because of racial discrimination. If you condemn riots, then condemn as well the political practices that lead to those riots.

49 of 50 state Republican Parties, with the blessing and guidance of the national Republican Party, engage in voter suppression measures that target minorities. If you do not want riots, do not support the politicians that sow the seeds of rioting in their white supremacist-derived policies. In Dr. King’s day, it was much less clear on how to determine which politicians would support equality and which ones would support racial discrimination. Party lines and regional lines did not entirely line up with one side or the other. Today, it is much clearer: The Democratic Party moves to end racial discrimination and the Republican Party moves to preserve it. Look at the legislative record, it tells a truth that is stark and plain.

I have been told in no uncertain terms by my faith leaders to be active in working to end racial discrimination. I cannot be true to that charge and cast a vote for a Republican politician at the same time. I must choose, and I choose to end racial discrimination.

Voter Suppression – Part 6

Rather than spend my time going over details of suppression efforts, I’ll summarize. The efforts themselves are “rinse and repeat” methods that I’ve already called out in earlier essays and, frankly, the all hearken back to Jim Crow methods. What I’m searching for is any exception to the general rule that I see of Republican Party politicians and organizations pushing for Jim Crow racist legislation. They call it whatever they want to call it, but underneath the window dressing is hardcore Jim Crow legislation.

Iowa: Republicans throw up barriers to voting… Missouri: Republicans look to reinstate a voter restriction law that was shot down by the Missouri Supreme Court… Arkansas: The Republican-majority Supreme Court ruled a voter suppression measure was fine by them… Louisiana: considered one of the four worst states in the USA for voter suppression of minorities… Mississippi: another one of those “four worst states” – the blood of Medgar Evers still cries unto heaven for justice.

Indiana: Gerrymandering, restrictive registration laws, and a purge of 500,000 mostly minority voters… Kentucky: voter suppression so bad, the Black Republicans there complained that there was hardly anyone in their precincts that could vote for them! Yet, the state continued to pull out Black poll workers and put in Whites from outside those neighborhoods and post police at polling places to intimidate voters… Tennessee: just passed a law that would strip protesters of their voting rights, and guess what skin color a LOT of recent protesters happen to have… Michigan: Republican-backed robocallers are spreading lies to discourage absentee voting and the Republicans are fighting hard in the legislature to preserve the suppression measures implemented there when they were in power… West Virginia: large-scale purge, intimidation, and other suppression tactics are in place under that state’s Republican leadership.

New Jersey: this is a state where the Republican National Party was sued twice for violating voting rights laws. It is no surprise that the Republican Party is fighting against Democratic Party efforts there to reinstate the many thousands of minority voters that lost their franchise under Republican rule… Virginia: Democratic Party politicians are dismantling Jim Crow laws over Republican opposition… North Carolina: This state’s Republicans are so bad, they committed massive election fraud in the NC-9 election and never batted an eye… South Carolina: Republicans there maintain and extend Jim Crow laws to keep Blacks from voting… Florida: Republican leaders there *admitted* that voter suppression laws were targeting minority voters.

From an article about the Florida admission: A GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said Black voters were a concern. “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the Black churches organize themselves,” he said.

So here I am… out of 50 states, only one state Republican Party organization – Utah – that is not actively seeking to deprive Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans of their votes.

The only way to convince me that the Republican Party is not a racist, white supremacist hate group is for the other 49 state party organizations to not just step away from voter suppression efforts, but to vote for their repeal.

Voter Suppression – Part 5

I’ll do another survey of states in this essay, where I’ll take in the Western states that I haven’t looked at already. Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and my home state of Texas. That’s 14 states and will bring my survey to 34 states, with heavily-Republican Midwest and Deep South states making up most of the remaining 16.

I start with Republican-held Alaska. Going into my check, I thought that there might not be enough minorities in Alaska to suppress, but I thought wrong. Alaska goes hard against Native American voters, with all kinds of additional complications brought into play because of their tribal affiliations. The law of the USA stipulates that tribal members living on reservations *can* vote in federal elections, but the Republicans in Alaska choose instead to pass laws that suppress their votes and then carry the fights into courts, where the state enjoys better access and legal resources than their suppressed plaintiffs.

Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota have similar arrangements as Alaska: Republican-dominated governments that block Native American access to the polls. It doesn’t matter if the laws stipulate forms of ID while blocking others, or if it’s a poll purging posing as an address update, or if it’s closing polls where the people can reach them without a massive drive – all of those and more get used to keep the Native Americans out of the polling places.

The same things that target hyper-rural Native American voters also work against Hispanic voters in Idaho. Idaho counties also do not uniformly offer Spanish-language ballots, even though they are required to by federal law.

Nevada is now mostly in Democratic hands, so the voter suppression stories coming out of that state are about how Republicans are trying to push through voter suppression measures such as restricting mail-in voting. It’s really breaking my heart to see, time and time again, the Republican Party acting to either reduce voting rights or to hold the line on Jim Crow laws that keep voting rights suppressed. Time and time again. I’ve got good friends who fight fires, heal the sick, teach in classrooms, defend our nation, and serve on police forces who are good, honest people… and then they vote Republican and extend the shadow of racial discrimination in our nation. It’s like watching alcoholics destroy their lives and the lives of others through occasional indiscretions.

And that brings me to Arizona, which has been suppressing Black, Hispanic, and Native American votes for over a century. The Republican Party there pushed for voter suppression measures in 1958, well before the national party adopted such strategies in 1964. Eyewitnesses recall how Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist once served as a major part of the Republican Party’s Operation Eagle Eye, challenging Black and Hispanic voters in South Phoenix. Arizona’s history reads like that of Alabama’s, which breaks my heart even more, as I have family history that hearkens back to that state.

I also have family history that reaches back to Utah. That state shows some hope in that the Republican-dominated government has started to roll back restrictions and open up other possibilities for voters. There are still laws that the Republicans put in that need to come out – remember that it was Republicans that took away rights for women to vote in Utah in the late 1800s – but it is good to see that change *is* possible.

But the Republicans revert to form in New Mexico, where out-of-state Republican groups have joined forces with in-state groups to file court cases to suppress minority voters there. Nebraska doesn’t need out-of-state groups to suppress votes, as the Republican Party there is strong enough to do the job themselves.

Kansas has been ruled by Republicans for most of its history, so it was no surprise to me that former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach created multiple barriers to voting for the state’s current Black voters and the increasing number of Hispanic voters there.

Oklahoma’s party history pattern lets me know that I’m out of the West and into the Deep South – the Democratic Party white supremacists migrated over to the Republican Party when the national Democratic Party made that group unfriendly to white supremacists… and the national Republican Party made that group a home for them. But Oklahoma is nothing when compared to Texas.

Texas’ Republican leadership is keeping Jim Crow alive and well in the Lone Star State, with aggressive voter ID laws, voter roll purges, closure of polling places in minority neighborhoods, complicated registration practices, voter intimidation, and blocking of an expansion of mail-in voting. It’s sickening, and it’s pervasive.

I’ve looked at 34 states so far. In all but one, Utah, Republican Party politicians and affiliated groups are working to suppress minority voting rights. In Utah, Republicans are starting to roll back some restrictions, but they have a long way to go.

I’ve got 16 states to go: Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. Looking at those states, I know already of several with particularly egregious examples of Republican-led voter suppression efforts. By the time I’m done with this, I’ll no longer wonder about how closely-aligned the Republican Party is with white supremacist views. I’ll know, and it will be deeply disturbing.

Voter Suppression – Part 4

I’m taking a look at states that have been both Democrat strongholds of late as well as states that have had a history of being at the front of voter rights movements. I’m doing this just to be thorough and to see if any states are expanding their voter rolls by large numbers.

As it turns out, there is good news, especially from Massachusetts. But I’ll start in California. That state does have problems, but it’s in the area of bureaucracy and minor areas that affect tens of thousands, as opposed to the millions I’ve chronicled Republican Parties in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio disenfranchising. And while I will agree with criticisms that polling places need to be opened, not closed and that election dates should not be moved to accommodate interest groups AND that mail-in ballots need to not be rejected because the signature and the ballot are not in English, those are nowhere near the level of deliberately targeting hundreds of thousands of Blacks and depriving them of their votes.

When I look up voter suppression in California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Illinois, those are the stories I see: basically, “we can and SHOULD do better!” I agree wholeheartedly.

Voter suppression searches for Washington State turned up how their system of mail-in ballots has worked extremely well. A search for “voter suppression Vermont” unearths a host of articles written by Vermonters about how awful voter suppression is in other states. Same for Connecticut. Maine, which has a mixed-party situtation, is similar. Rhode Island has a variation on the above states in that Republicans are trying to sue the state for being too permissive with its mail-in voting. Delaware has a story similar to Rhode Island: while the state is very progressive with voting rights, Republicans are trying to challenge those rights in court.

“Voter suppression Colorado” gives articles about their anger over postal system interference from Trump’s cronies and how upset they are over Trump telling people in North Carolina to vote twice.

“Voter suppression Maryland” does bring up a set of articles protesting Republican governor Hogan’s policy to make it more restrictive on mail-in voting this year. While not a concerted voter purge campaign, I do wonder if this is the thin end of the wedge. If so, it should be beaten back, especially in this year of pandemic.

Back to happier news, “voter suppression Minnesota” shows a state that’s vibrant in its efforts to expand the franchise, with particular barbs for backsliding Wisconsin. SPOILER: Wisconsin is called “The Alabama of the North”, as I’ll discuss in a future article in this series.

“Voter suppression New Hampshire” was a bit of a shock – but then I see that that state is more Republican-dominated than the rest of the Northeast. Ah, I thought, that explains all the articles about unreasonable NH voter registration laws being struck down, along with Republican-led efforts to suppress student and youth voters. Here I am, trying to do a survey of states where I think voter suppression isn’t as horrific as elsewhere in the USA, and this one stands out like a sore thumb – and I see the Republican Party dominance in the legislature. This is a national thing for Republicans, no question about it in my mind. I had a strong suspicion as I started this series, but the data give me a deep pit in my stomach about whether or not I think there’s any salvaging that party from its pro-white supremacist impact.

New York shows a state in conflict with itself, as upstate Republicans push measures to limit the voting strength of urban Democrats – and the targets are pretty much the usual group of young voters, Black voters, and Hispanic voters. The laws get passed when the Republicans are in power and are blocked from repeal when the Republicans are in opposition, with strength enough in at least one legislative house.

When I looked at a mixed-to-Republican chart of Pennsylvania state political control, I thought to myself, “I bet there’s some voter suppression going on there!” Sure enough, I see articles about Republicans pushing to purge 800,000 names from the rolls. That disgusts me, because I know which voters they will be. Reading denials makes my disgust stronger, because everywhere else the Republican Party launches a voter purge, since they started doing those nationally in 1964, has targeted Black, Hispanic, and youth voters. There’s zero reason to think Pennsylvania would be any different.

Whereas, in the Democratic-run stronghold of liberty Massachusetts, the news is about how they’ve got 700,000 MORE voters. That’s just awesome, and shows what can be done when we encourage the spirit of voting rights in the nation. I want to savor that moment before I tally up my findings from today…

… OK, ready for the total. Of the 17 states I surveyed, expecting to see fair-to-good news about voter suppression, 13 of them had either suppression issues in the tens of thousands or less – with Massachusetts standing out with its registration efforts. 4 of the states had bad news. In all of those 4 states, it was the Republican Party that was pushing to strip voters of their rights. The voter suppression issue isn’t one of “everyone is doing it”. It’s a story of the Republican Party taking states that used to have strong voting rights and attacking those very rights, particularly for Blacks and Hispanics.

And if Blacks and Hispanics can’t vote, that leaves the Whites… with supremacy. That is not the nation I want to live in, but that’s the nation the Republican Party is dead-set on delivering.