Ari Berman has another must-read article on the systematic effort of the GOP to disenfranchise millions, focusing in this installment on redistricing—and resegregation—in the South.
In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. “What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.” The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels. Four years after the election of Barack Obama, which offered the promise of a new day of postracial politics in states like North Carolina, Republicans are once again employing a Southern Strategy that would make Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater proud.
If there ever was a strong argument for a 50-state strategy for Democrats, in which strong parties are fostered and competitive in every single state, this is it. The GOP is hell-bent on cheating its way to a permanent majority, whether by voter suppression or a return to segregation. And it's largely happening because of the concerted effort by Republicans in the last 30 years to begin working at the local level, dominating local politics and creating a strong infrastructure to take over first state legislatures, then governorships, secretaries of state, and federal offices.
The fight is in the courts, too, with no fewer than five suits currently pending against Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 is the provision that requires states covered by the act to receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department or a three-judge District Court in Washington for any election law changes that affect minority voters. One of these challenges could well make it to the Supreme Court, where its fate is at best uncertain.
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