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Racism: Complicity is Guilt

GELFAND’S WORLD--This note is written to people who still call themselves Republicans. 

Suppose we were to give the Republicans in Georgia the benefit of the doubt. Imagine that they don't really hate and fear Black voters the way their fathers did. They just want to maintain political power and the way to do that is to disenfranchise as many Black voters as they can. They are using any dirty trick they can get away with. This is still racism. The disenfranchisement of Black voters is in and of itself racist, because the endpoint is to deny a substantial population its rightful say in government. 

It doesn't really matter what the innermost thoughts and motives of the Republican legislators is. What they are doing has a racist effect in the sense of denying rights to Black voters. It really is as simple as that. 

Racist is as racist does. 

The way that they plan to do their dirty deed is to make it as hard to vote as possible. They will add increased requirements for registration. They will reduce the ability to vote on Sunday. They will do the best they can to cause long lines at the polls. And in order to make those long lines as painful as possible for as many voters as possible, they will make it harder to vote by mail. And to make entirely clear what the intent is, they will make it illegal for Georgia citizens to assist their fellow citizens by bringing them water and a snack while they are waiting in line. 

I typed in that long list of affronts because it is necessary to recognize -- and for you Republicans, to admit -- that reducing the number of votes by your fellow Black citizens is the full and only intent of these new rules. It isn't to preserve the honesty of the election: There are ways to do so, and we know that the recent Georgia election was honest as far as Democratic votes were concerned. 

And what is going on in Georgia is going on in many other states. Pretty much every state which is controlled by a Republican legislature is engaging in similar attempts at voter suppression. The ostensible reason -- an excuse actually -- is to preserve the sanctity of elections by preserving their honesty. But even Republicans will, on occasion, admit that reducing the number of Democratic votes is the object. 

There is another, more painful, corollary. Every American citizen who supports the Republican Party at this point in our history is complicit. If you vote for a Republican for congress or senate, if you give money to the party, if you donate to one of their pacs, then you are part of a national organization that functions to steal voting rights from a substantial group of your fellow citizens. There is no excuse for this in the present day. It's like looking the other way in 1860 or in 1938. 

Complicity is guilt. The Republican Party is now the party of institutional racism. Donald Trump is currently the leader, and he cannot maintain his position without the support of racists. Even Trump is no longer carrying on the pretense. Sure, he will lie once in a while and claim not to be racist, but his actions are, and have been, quite clear on this matter. 

Some of you will, perhaps, argue that you aren't trying to deprive Black voters of their franchise per se, you just want to support traditionally Republican policies such as lower taxes, an aggressive military policy, or an anti-abortion position. You still are complicit, because your party has adopted an approach that requires racist acts to succeed. If Mitch McConnell and the governor of Georgia can manage to prevent enough of their fellow Americans from voting in the 2022 and 2024 elections, they might win. 

By supporting the party at this moment, you are complicit. If you have any conscience at all, reregister out of the party. There are plenty of options including reregistering as No Party. That, at least, would be a statement of principle. 

Addendum 

We will be hearing a lot about something called Section 304 in the coming days. It's a part of the 1974 congressional rule which determines the way that the so-called reconciliation bills can be used. Section 304 can be interpreted (if you want to agree with Chuck Schumer) to say that a second reconciliation bill can be enacted in any given fiscal year. Right now we are still using fiscal year 2021 rules. The second reconciliation bill would technically be a revision of the first one, but we all know how legislators manage to expand on tiny revisions and turn them into major new acts. 

Here is a summary of the Section 304 story. The words we will be hearing on the Sunday morning shows are that the two houses can adopt a bill which "revises or reaffirms" the bill that has already been passed. (The specific description used in Section 304 for the $1.9 trillion bill that recently passed is "the concurrent resolution on the budget.") So, we will be hearing Chuck Todd and his fellow pundits asking Republican electeds why this would not apply to a second budget busting bill, and they will argue that this would be a gross violation of tradition.

 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at amrep535@sbcglobal.net)

-cw