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Est. April 5, 2002
November 15, 2018 - Issue 764

‘Electoral Apartheid,’ Dems
Challenge Post 2018 Midterms

"America’s Republican Party is concerned about
the rising numbers of ethnic minorities - Hispanics,
African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and
American Indians and Alaskan Natives - who are
projected, collectively, to become the nation’s
majority population by 2040 or earlier."

In the coming months, Democrats will face numerous challenges as they assume majority leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. As noted in my most recent column, they must avoid a contentious leadership fight and prepare to take to take immediate actions against the continuing assaults on their ability to govern and the stability of the nation’s democracy. In the coming weeks, we will examine the major tests they must tackle.

First up is ‘Electoral Apartheid’ which is the major threat to their rule of the House after the 2020 elections. Rapidly changing American demographics have caused Republicans to aggressively pursue this South African political strategy. ‘Electoral Apartheid’ legally enforced racial segregation by the nation’s white minority over the more than 4:1 black majority from 1948, under the country’s National Party, until blacks ascended to political power with the election of the nation’s first African President, Nelson Mandela, in 1994. He was released from prison in 1990 after serving twenty-seven years for allegedly conspiring to overthrow South Africa’s Apartheid government.

America’s Republican Party is concerned about the rising numbers of ethnic minorities - Hispanics, African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaskan Natives - who are projected, collectively, to become the nation’s majority population by 2040 or earlier. Several states have already reached this threshold, including California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, and the District of Columbia. These groups currently tend to vote for Democrats as their interests and aspirations are more aligned with that Party’s platform and initiatives. This is the reason Beto O’Rourke (D) nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in last week’s election.

There are numerous other states on the cusp of this demographic reality. At present, they include several states that lean Republican, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, and others on a fast track to majority-minority status. While ethnic minorities may have greater influence in elections over the long term, they still face major impediments to voting: access to quality education, jobs, economic clout, political interest, and being engulfed in the criminal justice system by what law professor, writer, and civil rights advocate, Michelle Alexander, has termed The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in her 2010 best-selling book.

In a recent New York Times essay, The Newest Jim Crow, she updated her analysis to include e-incarceration. Both forms of imprisonment substantially erode the voting rights of ethnic minority males who make up the majority of America’s prison population and nearly half of the nation’s ethnic minority citizens. Thus, even as ethnic minorities are growing at a fast pace, their political impact is seriously hampered by the aforementioned factors. Anyone who believes that this emerging majority will somehow corrode the power that white Americans enjoy, through Republican majorities, need only to look at the history of minority nations around the world that have been taken over by Europeans including the United States.

There are a variety of methods utilized to achieve ‘Electoral Apartheid.’ The most well-known is the passage of Voter ID legislation in 34 states, overwhelmingly Republican, along with a few that are Democratically-inclined. And it has been proposed at the committee level in the 16 other states and some U.S. territories. These laws are being and have been confronted via lawsuits that have reached the Appellate and Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The success of Voter ID has passed SCOTUS muster with victories in Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin so far. Additional Voter ID cases are now winding their way to SCOTUS.

They will likely receive a favorable decision in the aftermath of President Trump’s appointment of conservative jurists, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to SCOTUS. Their judicial decisions at the Appellate level seem to cosign Voter ID.

Another approach to voter suppression is rampant political gerrymandering. Republicans donors wisely funded the election of Republican politicians and funded freestanding think tanks and university research centers for more than three decades to increase their control of state legislatures and governorships. This has been explained in detail by Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean in her 2017 National Book Award hardcover, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. As Republicans acquired more power, they were poised to redraw state and federal political districts to give themselves a majority of voters. This led to Republicans’ 2010 capture of the U.S. House and their 2014 reclaiming of the U.S. Senate.

Since that time, Republicans have stacked state, District, Appellate, and U.S. Supreme Courts with judges who are hostile to ethnic minority participation in the voting process and who have ruled accordingly at every level. In addition, these courts have attacked public-sector unions (collective bargaining), teachers (pay, benefits, and school funding), ethnic minorities (police mistreatment, mass incarceration, etc.), immigrants (the so-called Caravan, asylum, and a path to citizenship), women (reproductive rights), LGBTQ citizens (equality of treatment), and millennials (access to voting on college campuses) who just happen to makeup the Democratic base.

Electoral Apartheid’ is real. And Democrats must address this issue if they are to hold their constituents together and turn them out in 2020. Their giddiness about their recent triumphs and Democratic leaders’ jockeying for the 2020 presidential nomination is resulting in a lack of focus on what is important to their maintaining their majority and gaining the presidency.

But what may be the Democrat’s most troubling problem is the upcoming Hillary and Bill Show which will tour the country with pricey tickets to test the waters for Hillary’s return to presidential politics to claim the office she believes she rightfully deserves, like an earlier Democrat, Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956 and Republican Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, who also failed. This is unlikely to end well.

Hillary’s sad foray into elective politics again will provide President Trump with several tons of red meat to continually rev up his base and a convenient foil to keep them rabid and engaged until the November 3, 2020 presidential, state, House, and Senate elections. Trump is salivating at the prospect, and it will provide him with an ongoing distraction as he reinforces the belief that the Democrats are tied to the past and not the future.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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