November 3, 2012

Race & Today’s Republican Party. ~ Ted Lardner

Three preemptive comments before the presentation of evidence:

1. People who oppose the candidacy of President Obama for reelection may have good, policy-based reasons for doing so.

To support Mitt Romney is not ipso-facto evidence of racism; no one who is being honest and fair would say that about the motives of any particular Romney voter.

Good Republican voting people don’t deserve to be called “racist” just because they vote for Republican candidates. The problem is that certain recent actions by Republican party officials, supporters or spokespersons bespeak a racist point of view—individual Republican voters deserve better from their party.

Our democratic and diverse society, whose very diversity is in fact its greatest potential resource, deserves better.

2. Racism may take the form of individual, consciously mean actions.

It’s awful when that happens and we rightly condemn that kind of abhorrent behavior.

However, it is also true that racist actions may be racist in their effects, quite separate from conscious intention. Furthermore, racist actions can be trans-individual, institutional and systemic racism exists in social arrangements—arrangements such as routine policies or strategies that disproportionately impact one group or privilege another.

Voter identification laws or the actions of groups such as True the Vote, for example, may never be overtly rationalized as a means for suppressing the votes of communities who might not support Republican policies. Such laws and actions, however, are still demonstrably racist in their effect; they disproportionately impact racial minority groups.

3. Racism in any form doesn’t “just happen”—it persists when and where it remains unrecognized and unchallenged.

In any organization, responsibility flows from the bottom up. Therefore, at the top, leaders of organizations play the defining role in shaping both the social mores and the specific actions of that group. Where racist actions are seen to exist the silence especially of those at the top is effectively complicity.

Put concretely, if today’s Republican Party were interested in doing so, it could easily put “right” the race based “wrongs” offered in the brief catalog below.

That job would start at the top of the ticket; one word from candidate Romney—“enough”—is all it would take.


A Catalog of Particulars: does this look like racism?

Each of the items presented below is has the information quoted from web sources—the URL for each source is included in the titles of the content.

John Sununu, Co-Chair of Mitt Romey’s Campaign.

“Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chair John Sununu claimed Colin Powell endorsed President Barack Obama because Obama and Powell are both black. By claiming Powell’s endorsement of Obama is based on race, Sununu insinuates that Powell is a racist.”

“Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Sununu said in an interview on CNN. When pressed on what those reasons might be, he replied, “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

Clear Channel’s Billboards in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee.

“The management firm started by Mitt Romney is one of the owners of Clear Channel Communications, the advertising and billboard company at the center of a scandal surrounding more than 140 billboards warning against voter fraud.”

“Clear Channel, which syndicates Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on its radio channels, has said it will remove the billboards following a public pressure campaign. But the company has still not revealed the anonymous donor behind the billboards, contrary to its rules on political ads.”

“The billboards appear to be part of the Republican led push to pass bills against voter fraud that advocates argue is meant to discourage minority communities from exercising their right to vote. But it also shows the difficulty of finding who is behind the money, or the billboard, in the age of Citizens United.”

“The only reason they decided to take down the ads was because they didn’t want to reveal [the donor’s] identity,” said Timothy Karr, the senior director of strategy at Free Press. “This part of a larger trend of groups that want to influence the election, but operate behind this veil of secrecy.”

“That low income neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Cleveland were chosen as the target audience for the billboards isn’t surprising”, said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.

“They were targeting communities where black and Latino people live and creating an air of fear and uncertainty around people casting a vote,” said Robinson.

“The ads featured a large judge’s gavel under the words: “voter fraud is a felony” and warned that it carried a $10,000 fine and three and a half years in prison.”

 Voter ID Laws

“The new laws, passed by a number of Republican controlled legislatures since the 2008 election, have emerged as a major new salvo this election cycle. Proponents of the laws, many of which require people to provide some form of photo-ID or government issued identification card to vote, argue they are meant to combat fraud and ensure the integrity of the voting process.”

“Citing the scant amount of documented voter fraud in the country’s recent history, Democrats have charged that the laws were put in place simply to make the process more difficult for voters who are more likely to support them.”

Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by.”

Manipulating Citizens’ Access to Voting, Ohio Style.

 “Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, which contains the city of Columbus, admitted in an email to the Columbus Dispatch that black voters would now have a more difficult time voting.”

“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban, read African American  voter turnout machine,” said Doug Preisse, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours, in an email to The Dispatch. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.” He called claims of unfairness by Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern and others “bullshit. Quote me!”


Ted Lardner teaches writing and yoga in Cleveland, Ohio, and lives with his family for the day when all beings everywhere will be happy and free!



Editor: Olga Feingold

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