Pragmatic Racism

No, it’s not the brutal, hate-twisted racism of the old days. Today’s Republicans are capable of adoring select right-wing African-Americans. The Jim Crow revival they’re pushing — the large-scale disenfranchisement of primarily minority voters — is pragmatic.

They’re outnumbered. They couldn’t win a fair national election. What a dilemma for such a righteous political organization. Winning — securing power, implementing their agenda — is the whole point, and that means they have no choice but to put the big squeeze on Democrat-leaning voting blocs. And the most obvious of those blocs are racial and ethnic.

Democracy is as vulnerable to abuse when it’s several centuries old as when it’s brand new. And though the United States proudly waves its flag as the world’s oldest democracy, at the beginning that concept was seriously limited — to white, male property owners. And as enfranchisement spread, a tradition of virulent vote suppression spread right along with it. Democracy is never far from its own demise.

As Harvey Wasserman, co-author along with Bob Fitrakis of the recently released Will The GOP Steal America’s 2012 Election?, noted in a recent interview at Op-Ed News:

Historians tend to classify the racist violence of the Ku Klux Klan as a ‘boys-will-be-good-ol’-boys’ product of random bigotry. But in fact the Klan’s major function was as a well-oiled voter suppression machine, the terrorist wing of the Southern Democratic Party.