Former President Bill Clinton just figured out what the Republicans are doing. In a speech to a liberal group at the Campus Progress’s annual conference in Washington on Wednesday, Mr. Clinton broke the news – the Republicans are trying to disenfranchise minority voters.
“I can’t help thinking since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time.
“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.
“They [Republicans] are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate,” Clinton added, referencing the dip in youth voter turnout in the 2010 elections. “Are you fighting? You should be fighting it.”
Jim Crow laws were enacted in the United States for almost 100 years, from 1876 to 1965. The laws were responsible for what was called, “separate but equal,” – a doctrine that demanded separate facilities be set up for blacks and whites, from restaurants to restrooms to drinking fountains to schools and other public places. Jim Crow laws also implemented stiff fines and fees, designed to keep blacks from voting.
So far, 13 Republican governed states have changed their voter registration laws, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Texas. And although these Republican governors wouldn’t admit to it, the reasoning for making voting more difficult in these states is to discourage the minority vote.
But Clinton is not the first to call out the Republicans on their Jim Crow-like efforts to keep the minority vote away from the polls. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Committee Chairman told CNN back in June that Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.”
Mrs. Schultz eventually apologize for using the words “Jim Crow,” what she called, “ the wrong analogy to use,” but the fact still remains the same – trying to make voting more difficult for a particular group of people, whether its 1911 or 2011, whether it’s through fines or changing voting laws to disenfranchise this group, the words Jim Crow in my view, are very appropriate.