Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rep. John Lewis On Voter Suppression And Voter ID: "Iʼve Lived This Before"

If you've ever read Walking With The Wind... the great Democrat from Georgia, Rep. John Lewis's memoir of the civil rights movement... you will know that Lewis is one of the toughest, most indefatigable and unbowed African Americans in our midst, a veritable icon of courage and steadfastness, repeatedly beaten and bloodied and fire-hosed but never subdued in spirit. I am fortunate to have found a used copy of the memoir many years ago; I turn to it when my own spirits need restoration. Lewis never fails to inspire me.

Thus Rep. Lewis is the perfect man to address the often politically untouchable issue of race in American politics. No one living... no one in this world... knows better than Lewis the heartbreaking, outraging consequences of racism once woven into the fabric of our nation's electoral process... and now being rewoven by Republicans today. As Lewis said,
I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.
The poor. The elderly. And yes, racial, ethnic and selected religious minorities. All those American citizens face deliberate, unrestrained, thinly (if at all) disguised suppression of their votes by today's Republican party, through draconian voter ID laws (e.g., Pennsylvania and Texas), drastic pruning of voter roll in defiance of federal court orders (Florida), direct voter challenges at the polls leading to "provisional" ballots (many states), reduction of hours polls are open (again many states including Ohio), and outright vote-counting fraud executed using electronic voting systems (Ohio among others). Lewis conveys the message in his straightforward, uncompromising style:
Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state’s new voter ID law is ‘gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state.’ That’s not right, that’s not fair and that is not just.
Do not let this courageous and highly respected American down. Do whatever you can to challenge Republican voter suppression in every state this November. Too much is at stake to let them get away with it. Do NOT permit the return of Jim Crow at the polls!

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