11.05.12 11:04 AM ET
The New Jim Crow
Whatever the result tomorrow, voter suppression is one of the big stories of this campaign and its enduring scandal. The Republican Party before 2012 was a party that certainly did not want black and brown and poor Americans voting, so it's long been officially racist and classist in this particular sense.
But up to now its measures were local and somewhat haphazard--scare-tactic fliers circulated in black neighborhoods, GOP elections officials "forgetting" to ship the right number of voting machines to minority areas, that sort of thing. These things were usually perpetrated with plenty of plausible deniability.
Now, though, in these past couple of years, the GOP strategy has been institutionalized. It's come above ground, and the thugs in black outfits distributing handbills in the dead of night before Election Day have been replaced or at least supplemented by thugs in suits and ties trying to put a respectable sheen this obviously anti-democratic business. For example, read here about what the secretary of state in Ohio is trying to do right now. It's rather incredible.
Democrats and liberals have fought this in the courts this year on a state by state basis, and mostly with success, since any federal judge worth a dime laughs these crazy Republican efforts out of his courtroom in three seconds. But the next four years will require a more thoroughgoing strategy that doesn't rely only on the courts but on legislation and broad public persuasion.
Republicans: Are you really proud to be in a party that tries to rig the rules so that people who vote for the other side have a harder time voting? Democrats don't get a whole lot of votes from upper-income white people, but you don't see Democrats trying to pass laws to make it hard for them to vote. That, of course, couldn't be done, because those voters have political power. This is really a disgrace. The new Jim Crow, enforced not with burning crosses but with fountain pens, to paraphrase Woody Guthrie.