BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had the choice to bypass the normal Justice Department pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and go straight to a 3-judge federal panel in order to argue for approval of the state’s Voter ID bill. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that he should have chosen that route. Because, no matter what attempts are made by conservative southern states to improve the integrity and security of the voting process, the Obama Justice Department is going to fight.
While a few Voter ID laws have passed constitutional muster and have been enacted in states that aren’t forced to jump through the archaic and outdated Section 5 hoops, conservative southern states are seeing a backlash from Obama’s Justice Department. Never mind statistics that show minority participation actually increased following the implementation of Voter ID in some states in 2004 and 2008. This is about exploiting black citizens and keeping them in line for upcoming elections.
Over the past several years, a series of Supreme Court rulings and the resulting congressional actions have further solidified and narrowed the political and racial favoritism shown under Section 5. The provision has been bastardized into a heavy handed political tool to use against southern states. It keeps states like Mississippi in the racial “dark ages” and promotes distrust that continues to keep us divided.
It’s a core reason why people like Derrick Johnson of the Mississippi NAACP can still use the bully pulpit to make charges of any number of perceived injustices, and Mississippi is immediately expected to prove our innocence. Through the prism of racial politics and churned up hatred, we are automatically presumed guilty.
It’s time for Section 5 to go. The provision has now become a device to racially discriminate against conservative southern states and to artificially boost the voting numbers of blacks in order that they will reward the Obama Administration by towing the line on election day.
The original intent of the provision has been altered beyond repair, and serves no purpose in the realities of the present or future. It is a remnant of a bygone era that some have a need to hold on to in order to defend against unkept promises and unflattering facts. These facts are problems we in Mississippi cannot come together to correct until we are all on equal footing to address them.
The Voting Rights Act has been in place since 1965. However, black Mississippian’s still find themselves battling against indifference and underutilized opportunity. Recently released numbers from the Mississippi Department of Education clearly show that black children, especially black males, have a serious culturally ingrained opposition towards taking advantage of education to better themselves. The distrust promoted by forcing large pockets of racially specialized voting areas doesn’t allow us to come together to fix those ingrained problems. It creates a division in our state that forces blacks to choose between race or recovery, between poverty or self-determination.
As a result, we’re not moving forward. Thanks to the Obama Administration’s War on the South, we are moving backwards.
For example, reforms in welfare on the federal level in the late 90’s showed that when expectations of self determination are raised, so is the level of achievement. That law resulted in a reduction of the poverty rate of single mothers by 30%, and the number of poverty among black children dropped to it’s lowest level ever. However, on July 12 of this year the Obama Administration waived the work requirement in the law, keeping up the effort to keep black southerners in despair.
The liberal position is that the only way blacks in the South can achieve success is through skewing laws and boosting public benefits. It’s a slap in the face of every black southerner. The idea that blacks can’t move ahead on their own without government help is insulting. That is the basis of many of the Section 5 rulings and maneuvers over the past decade, and it’s a core reason why Mississippi and other southern states are having difficulty moving past old divides and creating new successes.
There simply is no reason, in this day and age, Mississippi should have to ask permission to innovate and proceed into the future based on race. There is no reason black Mississippians need the federal government to “protect” them from their own state. And, there is no longer evidence that white Mississippians attempt to dilute the voting strength of anyone. If there is anything we have learned at this point in our history, it is that we prosper or fail together. A law that keeps us divided is one that keeps us poor and dependent.
Despite what many race-hustlers say, Voter ID laws are not about race. But they do allow for voter security and integrity, and that scares the pants off liberals who have long skirted election day laws in small Mississippi towns. It’s become an easy play since small polling places barely have the resources to manage the operation, much less watch out for fraud that is, in many cases, literally being bussed in.
The only way liberals can hope to maintain any control over the generations of black voters they have disappointed time and time again with poor policies is to scare them. Showing an ID is really not that scary these days. But, a group of powerful white people attempting to dilute black votes? Now that gets people in line!
Mississippi should join other southern states to participate in challenges to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and help end this madness. Two states have recently filed petitions to the Supreme Court, and four other states have joined in.
During the 2006 reauthorization of the act, Congress toughened the standards of Section 5. The argument before the Supreme Court beginning in October will be that the added requirements made the law unconstitutional.
No doubt, in becoming a part of the the push towards normalization, we would hear that such a move would be an unnecessary cost to the state. But, think of the costs if we don’t. Think of yet another generation of Mississippians trained by Justice Department scare tactics to live their life in hatred of where they come from, and who their neighbors are–another generation taught that the only way to win is to cheat. And, another generation taught that they can never succeed on their own merit, so why try?
Mississippi and the other nine states that have been subjected to the misuse of this law at the hands of holier-than-thou liberals have a right to move forward. Black Mississippians have a right to self determination without being used as pawns in a political game. And all of us should have an expectation that the power brokers at the Justice Department will stop playing politics with our future, and allow us to move forward together.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett
- Texas Can’t Enforce Voter Photo-ID Law, U.S. Court Rules – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Salter: Early voting vs. Voter ID (mississippipep.wordpress.com)
- Voting Rights Act: The State of Section 5 (propublica.org)
- Hosemann visits HA, talks Voter ID. (mississippipep.wordpress.com)