Republicans Racist? Oh, Heaven Forbid! Alas, It’s An Integral Part Of Conservatism In This Country
Wisconsin And Virginia
Writing for the Associated Press yesterday, Harm Venhuizen, offered the evidence that the Wisconsin GOP as a party is a racist entity, working to prevent minorities from voting. “Recent revelations about Republican election strategies targeting minority communities in Wisconsin’s biggest city came as no surprise to many Black voters,” wrote Venhuizen. “A Wisconsin election commissioner bragged about low turnout in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods during last year’s elections. Weeks later, an audio recording surfaced that showed then-President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin campaign team laughing behind closed doors about efforts to reach Black voters in 2020. Many people who voted this past week in the state’s primary election said they had long felt targeted by Republicans. The difference now is the public display of strategies that at best ignore the priorities of Black voters and at worst actively look to keep them from voting. ‘It’s a plan that they devised and carried out with quite a lot of precision,’ said lifelong Milwaukee resident Dewayne Walls, 63. ‘It’s a repeatable pattern that’s going to continue to happen over and over as long as they have that plausible deniability and as long as they have the power in Madison.’ Walls and other Black voters said they are tired of the countless hurdles that disproportionately try to keep them from being heard at the ballot box. Voters said their experiences with the GOP have been as voices to silence, not to win over.”
Voting rights advocates for years have accused Wisconsin Republicans of pushing policies to suppress voters of color and lower-income voters. Many such policies centered on the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee, home to nearly 70% of Wisconsin’s Black population.
Those claims were reinforced by an email sent to about 1,700 people in December from Bob Spindell, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Election Commission. He said Republicans “can be especially proud” of depressed midterm voter turnout in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in Milwaukee, a heavily Democratic city.
…Republican-drawn legislative maps adopted last year dilute Milwaukee’s influence and nearly guarantee a Republican majority in the Legislature. That’s despite statewide races routinely being decided by narrow margins and Democrats winning the major statewide offices, including for governor, attorney general and secretary of state.
Our old friend, Chris Larson represents part of southern Milwaukee County in the state Senate. Last night he told me that, “Republicans suppressing Black and Hispanic voters is a tactic as old as their use of racist dog whistles. Their efforts to erase history is only matched by their contempt for America's diversity. What makes their celebration of Milwaukee's suppression even worse, though, is that it is happening with the backdrop of the city they suppressed being on track to host the Republican National Convention in 2024. What did Republicans have to do to earn such a high honor? Nothing. "
The history makes it even more frustrating. Milwaukee was at one time in competition with Nashville to host the RNC in 2024. In the closing days before the city council was set to vote to set a clear bid package in place, the leaders of Nashville recognized that hosting a large group of unrepentant proto fascists in their neighborhood might not be the best idea. They pulled out and voted it down. This left Milwaukee as the only bid for the RNC.
The hope was that this would count as good will toward Republicans that they might one day repay in letting Milwaukee begin to govern itself again and the GOP would give more power to locals to raise our own taxes. This is the same GOP that gerrymandered themselves into artificial power in our state legislature, using that power to increase incarceration, defund public education, and passed the largest corporate giveaway in the history of America for FoxConn.
How's that been working out? Well, when Bob Spindell was recently caught on tape bragging about suppressing Black and Hispanic votes, there was a huge backlash.
Bob Spindell sits on the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is the body that oversees our state's elections. He still holds this Republicans-appointed seat after serving as a fake elector trying to negate our state’s 2020 election. Every Senate Democrat asked for the Senate Republican Leader to be removed from his Commission.
To date, not a single elected Republican has mustered up the energy to condemn him and his anti-American, anti-democracy actions.
It makes you wonder if when the National Republican Party comes to Milwaukee for their convention, they will continue to be encouraging the suppression of Black and Hispanic voters while again openly contemplating the overthrow of our democracy.
Why should anyone give this party a platform, much less one of our great community, when they fail to clear these wildly low standards?
This kind of voter suppression, of course, isn’t a uniquely Badger State phenomenon. Kannan Srinivasan and Terrence Walker are both Blue America-endorsed candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates this year. Each confronts that same kind of racism in their own political sojourns. Yesterday, Srinivasan said that “Voting is the language of democracy. Recently the new Republican majority Loudoun Electoral Board removed Sunday early voting. It was one Sunday for 4 hours. Local churches were organizing ‘Souls to Polls’ on that Sunday. Close to 700 people voted on a Sunday in an earlier election. I spoke recently at the Electoral board meeting to reinstate Sunday voting and emphasized that people in small business, first responders, essential workers, daily long commuters, caregivers and people with mobility needs benefit from this option. With more than 40% of the County being minority— this type of restriction will impact minorities participation in the Democratic process. As the richest county in the country Loudoun can definitely afford to staff Sunday early voting for 4 hours. As a minority candidate, it is very disappointing to see this setback after GOP majority in the electoral board. Elections surely have consequences.”
Terrence Walker couldn’t agree more. He reminded me that he’s “running in the Capital of the Confederacy: Virginia— the statues just came down, but all the history is still alive. Dr. Fergie Reid started a group called the Crusader for Voters back in 1956, when this kind of thing was going on— back then driven by Dixiecrats: like Harry Byrd. Conservatives didn't want Black people voting back then and they don't want them voting now. It is a sign of their weakness. If they were strong and confident in their ability to win elections without Black voters, they would not engage in practices that are designed to suppress Black voters; they would put together their own coalition, but they don't have one. Just like Dr. Reid, who in 1968, was the first African-America elected to the Virginia legislature since Reconstruction, we have to keep doing the work.”
Just recently, I met a new, solidly progressive candidate running for the Virginia state Senate in Fairfax County, Erika Yalowitz. “I come from a Hispanic, traditionally Catholic family,” she told me. “We are divided. My aunts believe that they may lose their place in heaven if they vote Democratic— even though they agree with 99% of the issues regarding social policy— only because they are extremely uncomfortable to support abortion rights. So they prefer not to vote. The issue goes deeper. The media they consume is mostly on YouTube by channels in Spanish targeting Latinos in the U.S. The channels are called something like ‘Love and Live your Faith’ and they masterfully present two true premises with a twisted political conclusion that often results in the demonization of Democrats. It seems like certain fractions are intentionally dividing families and the intent to vote this way. So much for family values.”