While most eyes were on the illegal abortion ban in Texas, the Lone Star State continued its assault on the constitution last week when Governor Greg Abbott signed Law SB1 – the law to suppress voters in Texas. The new law makes it difficult to receive postal ballot papers, prohibits the submission of mailboxes, limits the time for early voting and eliminates the option of passing through.
Texas Republicans claim these measures are necessary to protect elections from looming voter fraud, even though the same Republicans found no evidence of voter fraud in the last election. The real reason the Texas GOP took these measures is to suppress the electoral power of people of color – and we know this because it has been empirically proven that all of these methods disproportionately suppress the participation of people of color in elections. When state lawmakers do something that intentionally discriminates on the basis of race, it is fair to label those lawmakers as “racist,” even if they prefer people to whitewash their real intentions.
Unfortunately, the corporate media has accepted the idea that discrimination against colored voters is just one valid political option among many. Parts in both The Washington Post and The New York TimesSB1, for example, as the legitimate side of a “bitter” struggle between competing political views, as opposed to the triumph of political apartheid in the style of Jim Crow. A big part of the Republican roster is getting their media activists to treat their racist policies as “normal,” and they have largely succeeded in getting the corporate press to do just that.
While the Republicans in Texas date back to 1859, there is nothing the Democratic Party-controlled Congress can do to stop them. In July, the Texas Democrats literally fled the state to prevent SB1 from passing through. They went to Washington and pleaded for help. But nobody came. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema remained unmoved and unwilling to break the filibuster to protect People of Color’s right to vote. Neither the For the People Act nor the John Lewis Voting Rights Act are about to become law. The Senate seems content with giving whites in Texas more voting rights and access than non-whites. One can almost understand why the Roman Emperor Caligula once appointed a living horse to the Senate of his time. When an electoral body is so useless, ridicule feels like wisdom.
As for President Biden, executive powers alone are not enough to stop voter suppression. Our system of government always has the power to hold elections directly under the authority of the individual states. Only the Reconstruction Amendments – in particular the 14th and 15th amendments and the 19th amendment – are intended to set limits for the states in their elections.
That leaves the courts. In response to SB1, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has sued the state of Texas (on behalf of the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas) alleging the new law violates: The Voting Rights Act, the American with Disabilities Act, and the 14th and 15th amendments.
If federal courts in Texas or the Supreme Court were to take care of these laws and changes, the Texan voter suppression law would come to an end. Again, this is because all of the new restrictions in Texas are aimed at suppressing the votes of people of color, rather than combating the (non-existent) electoral fraud. And the restrictions accomplish this racially discriminatory goal with precision.
The problem is that the conservatives in the judiciary don’t care about some of our most important laws and changes. They were chosen by Republican presidents in large part for their hostility to voting, but not anyway. Last June, the six Conservative Supreme Court justices ruled that laws to suppress the votes of colored people were perfectly constitutional as long as the states behind those laws were just a little racist. And, oh yes, the measure of how much racism is acceptable is apparently only defined by Samuel Alito’s tolerance of bigotry.
So here we are. Republican parliaments are actively trying to discriminate against people of color in order to suppress their votes, and Democrats in Congress are doing nothing. Conservatives in the Supreme Court are actively ignoring the reconstruction amendments, as was earlier versions of the Supreme Court only for whites, and the Biden government is doing nothing to rebalance the judiciary. The forces of white supremacy have resurrected to do exactly what they always do to ensure white dominance in the electoral process, and the white people who run corporations and media corporations are just shrugging their shoulders and slinging people of color and arrows of outrageous bigotry.
Later, when the twin forces of Republican voter suppression and the total inaction of the Democrats conspire to get the Democrats on the streets in the midterm elections, the same whites who are doing nothing today will blame me or another Black person or, most likely, Alexandria, Ocasio- Cortez for being too “liberal” and turning off white people at brunch.
People of Color can only save America from becoming a white ethnic state if you allow us to.