Houston The lion in winter is still a lion, and John Lewis, a beacon for the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and now a longstanding Congressman from Atlanta, roared in the halls of Congress the other night about voting rights once again. The simple issue that pushed his button was the hater amendment from another Georgia Congressman Paul Broun trying to deny all funding to the Department of Justice for enforcement of the critical provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Broun, caught in the act, by Lewis, smartly apologized and withdrew his amendment, but that was tactical not sincere. The strategy of voter suppression continues to go unchallenged.
Broun’s amendment was meant to push back the Department of Justice, finally arising from its own slumber, and challenging Georgia and other states’ efforts to implement the Republican strategy of voter suppression through new voter identification methods. Sadly, not all states are subject to the Voting Rights Act prescriptions, and many from Wisconsin to Kansas that have emerged as the “new South” in denying citizen rights to access the democratic voting process can escape with their strategy untainted.
Lewis’ roar reminds us that we critically need a civil rights movement now about the rights of the disenfranchised among the poor and racial minorities to vote, since they along with the elderly are the key components of the millions likely to lose their ability to vote in November’s election. While the Obama campaign whined in the front pages of the paper this week that “they got this” on registration and turnout in answer to George Soros, the Democracy Alliance, and other consortiums of the rich stepping up to register and mobilize these voters, the truth is that we need a full court press with all players suited up and on the court. For my part I hope they are not coming into the game too late, because much of the damage is already done.
Let Lewis lead a new civil rights movement again right now on this issue!
In the absence of major efforts like the independent ones that ACORN led cycle after cycle to register and mobilize voters; we now have overtly partisan outfits like the California Republic Party contractor, Momentum Political Services, reported on this week by the Sacramento Bee, that was hired to overtly add Republican registrants in battleground areas. Seems they have some huge problems with bad cards, bad addresses, and overtly obvious changes in party registration to Republican. Voter registration is hard work and the Republican strategy is clear: suppress the likely Democratic voter base and enhance the Republican voter files.
Without a viable party or campaign strategy at least the rest of us can stand solidly for civil rights and the promise of democracy, even as John Lewis once again has reminded us, the practice of democracy is absent everywhere.