Hightower.jpg

If you’re a person of color, your vote isn’t safe. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson told of a dinner guest who went on and on about the virtue of honesty, offering his own life as a model of perfect rectitude. “The louder he talked of his honor,” said Emerson, “the faster we counted our spoons.”

That’s my reaction to the cacophony of phony piety arising from Republican governors and legislators who are trying to enact more than 250 new state laws to stop Black, Latino, Asian-American, Indigenous and other non-Caucasian voters from casting ballots. Yet they proclaim, “We’re not racists, we’re righteous crusaders protecting the sanctity of the vote.”

Really? So why are they specifically targeting people of color with their repressive voting restrictions? For example, panicky Republican lawmakers in Georgia tried to outlaw any early voting on Sundays. Odd. Why?

It’s a flagrantly racist attack on the Black church. For years, a joyous civic tradition called “Souls to the Polls” has played out in Southern Black churches on Sundays prior to Election Day. After the sermon and prayers, congregants, ministers, musicians and others in the church family travel in a caravan to early voting locations to cast ballots. It turns voting into a civic, spiritual and fun experience. What kind of shriveled soul tries to kill that?

Apparently, the same shameful souls in the Georgia GOP who want to stop local groups from providing water and snacks to citizens forced to wait for hours in line to vote. They’re actually making it a crime to give water to thirsty voters! Hey, Republicans: What would Jesus do?

And Yes, their main targets are people of color. But admitting that they can’t get majorities to vote for their collection of corporate lackeys, conspiracy theorists and bigoted old white guys, the GOP hierarchy’s Great Hope is to also shove as many Democratic voters as possible out of our elections — students, senior citizens, union households and poor communities.

Unable to come up with any actual need for these autocratic restraints, the GOP vote thieves are fraudulently exclaiming in mock horror that millions of illegal immigrants, dead people, Chinese, and even pets are voting! “Lock down the polls!” they cry. Again and again, these absurd claims have been thoroughly investigated — even by Republican judges, committees, media, etc. — and repeatedly they’ve proven to be… well, absurd. Let’s be blunt: You’re more likely to find Bigfoot than you are to find a case of mass vote fraud in America.

Even some GOP politicos have quit pretending that they’re searching for The Big Cheat, instead bluntly making an overt right-wing ideological argument for subverting democracy: “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” explained Rep. John Kavanagh, Republican chair of the Arizona House’s election committee. Slipping deeper into doctrinaire doo-doo, he asserts that it’s not just the number of votes that should matter in an election — “we have to look at the quality of votes,” too.

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that most Democratic voters would fall into his “low-quality” category.