The Jim Crow Republicans aren't just attacking voting — they want to rewrite history

As the truism warns, those who control the past control the future.


By Chanucey Devega | Salon - Commentary | June 23, 2021



Words have actual meanings. Why do I consistently describe today's version of the Republican Party as the "Jim Crow Republican Party"? Because that political party is now engaged in a coordinated nationwide effort to keep Black and brown people from voting.


Today's Republican Party is attempting to end America's multiracial democracy and replace it with a new form of American apartheid in which Black and brown people are treated as second-class citizens in their own country. These efforts to create a whites-only fake democracy involves many of the same tactics and strategies as the original Jim Crow regime. These include onerous ID requirements, voter intimidation and harassment, limiting access to polling places, claims that some votes (by white people) are more "valuable" and of "higher quality" than others, outright vote theft and vote fraud, an attempt to create one-party monopoly rule and claims that voting is something "sacred," to be "protected" by limiting access to those deemed unworthy.


Today's Republican Party is committed to the cause of racial authoritarianism. It is a de facto white identity organization which supports political violence and terrorism as a way of obtaining and keeping political power indefinitely.


The Jim Crow regime was much more than a set of strategies and tactics designed to deny Black people their equal political rights. It was a society-wide system that sought to undermine Black people's humanity, dignity and self-worth. Today's Republican Party shares that goal.


Lonnie Hollis has been a member of the Troup County election board in West Georgia since 2013. A Democrat and one of two Black women on the board, she has advocated Sunday voting, helped voters on Election Days and pushed for a new precinct location at a Black church in a nearby town.


But this year, Ms. Hollis will be removed from the board, the result of a local election law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. Previously, election board members were selected by both political parties, county commissioners and the three biggest municipalities in Troup County. Now, the G.O.P.-controlled county commission has the sole authority to restructure the board and appoint all the new members.


"I speak out and I know the laws," Ms. Hollis said in an interview. "The bottom line is they don't like people that have some type of intelligence and know what they're doing, because they know they can't influence them."

Ms. Hollis is not alone. Across Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off through local ordinances or new laws passed by the state legislature. At least five are people of color and most are Democrats ...


In Georgia, G.O.P. lawmakers say the new measures are meant to improve the performance of local boards, and reduce the influence of the political parties. But the laws allow Republicans to remove local officials they don't like, and because several of them have been Black Democrats, voting rights groups fear that these are further attempts to disenfranchise voters of color.


Democrats express the entirely legitimate fear that if these bills had been in place in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election, Donald Trump's allies could have gone much further toward overturning the result. As the Times puts it, "They worry that proponents of Mr. Trump's conspiracy theories will soon have much greater control over the levers of the American elections system."


Jena Griswold, the Democratic secretary of state in Colorado, describes this entire campaign as "a thinly veiled attempt to wrest control from officials who oversaw one of the most secure elections in our history and put it in the hands of bad actors. The risk is the destruction of democracy."


The Jim Crow Republicans have consistently responded by claiming that they have "no racist intent" or that Democrats are the "real racists" because they believe that black people are "too stupid" to follow new rules designed to "protect" and "secure" the vote.

Other Jim Crow Republicans have claimed, contrary to all evidence, that these new anti-democracy rules somehow make it easier for Black and brown people and other targeted groups to vote. The timing of these attacks by the Jim Crow Republican Party, which began across the Southern states almost immediately after the infamous Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision and accelerated after Trump's 2020 defeat, is similarly described as a coincidence, or evidence of "paranoia" by the Democrats and "liberal activists."