It would take a special breed of human beings to pass a law making it a crime to offer water and food to another human in need, such as while waiting in line to vote. But that is what Georgia’s Republicans in control of the state have done as part of a new law intended to stave off non-existent electoral fraud.
For good measure, Gov. Brian Kemp, flanked by six European American men, signed the bill, in private, on March 25, within hours of its passage, a painting of a slave plantation in the background. And when Democratic State Rep. Park Cannon, an African American, knocked on his door to be let in to witness the signing, state troopers arrested, charged and literally hauled her off to jail.
The goal is obviously to defeat Georgia’s ﬁrst African American Senator, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, next year and retake control of the Senate.
This is, of course, not the ﬁrst time that the Republican Party, acting on behalf of its ﬁnancial masters, has aggressively sought to suppress voting. It has been the party’s election strategy ever since its leaders realized changing demographics could make it a permanent minority. In fact, Republicans launched an assault on voting rights after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 that is eerily similar to what is going on now.
“After America elected its ﬁrst black president, operatives throughout the apparatus and their allied ofﬁce holders systematically kindled the irrational conviction that Barack Obama had won through massive voter ‘fraud’ and unless a battery of new laws prevented it, such fraud would be used to ‘steal’ more elections,” Nancy McLean recounted in her book “Democracy in Chains.” The lie did not originate with Donald Trump.
Legislators in 41 states “introduced more than 180 bills to restrict who could vote and how.” McLean noted, “The measures would most reduce the political influence of low-income voters and young people, who had been inclining leftward . . . America had not witnessed such a burst of limits on voting rights since the mass disenfranchisement instituted by southern states a century ago.”
Twelve years later, Trump claimed “massive fraud” and a “stolen election” in 2020. His supporters stormed the Capitol — and Republican legislators in 43 states have “proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee,” The Washington Post reported, citing Brennan Center for Justice data. “The measures are likely to disproportionately affect those in cities and Black voters in particular who overwhelmingly vote Democratic,” The Post said.
The law, the opening salvo for this trench warfare against voting rights, is noted also for its other extreme measures, including taking away the elections power of the secretary of state and imposing restrictions on county election boards, thus positioning the state to intervene in the outcome of an election.
President Joe Biden has denounced the law and similar measures passed or under consideration in other states, calling them “sick” and “un-American.” Biden, in fact, signed an executive order on March 7, the 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when Alabama state troopers brutally attacked hundreds of marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He signed the order “to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting.”
Democrats, who almost immediately sued Georgia, have been trying for years to enact legislation strengthening and expanding voting rights, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2013, voided a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required a number of states — including Georgia — with a history of voter suppression to seek pre-clearance from the federal government for any election law changes.
After gaining control of the U.S. House in 2018, Democrats approved a bill to restore and expand voting rights. All Republicans opposed it and the measure stalled in the then Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. Democrats passed a similar bill, again with no House Republican support. Democrats, now with a slim Senate majority, would normally be able to pass it but, even though they are now in the minority, any Republican Senator can block its passage simply by opposing it, requiring 60 votes for passage. Democrats are now mulling over whether they should use their majority to abolish or modify this maneuver, known as the ﬁlibuster, for this and other key Boden agenda items.
Meanwhile, Florida, which is among states passing or proposing more voter suppression measures, has gone a step further by passing a bill which is clearly intended to intimidate protesters, including those demonstrating against electoral shenanigans by the state, and blackmail local governments into acquiescence. The law is ostensibly directed at protests that turn into “riots” but peaceful demonstrations have been known to have been inﬁltrated by agents provocateurs to create mischief.
It is no surprise that Lady Justice covered her eyes, not to symbolize that justice is blind – it has never been – but to avoid witnessing such undemocratic behavior.
Or that the Liberty Bell cracked not just because of construction flaws but in sounding the alarm that American democracy is fragile enough to be in constant jeopardy.
Even an inanimate statue and a metallic bell want to warn about those who would be convinced, to paraphrase Psalm 23, that goodness and mercy shall follow them all the days of their lives and they shall dwell in the House of Trump forever.
And Lady Liberty holds aloft her torch so they cannot reach it.