The whole world can watch Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon being arrested on YouTube. As an elected official, the Black woman was trying to witness Gov. Brian Kemp sign a voter suppression bill on March 25.
For merely knocking on a locked door, Cannon has been charged with two felonies. Kemp was inside signing a 98-page-long bill that makes giving free food or water to voters waiting in long lines a criminal act. Offering chairs, even to elderly and disabled voters, will also be illegal.
None of this has anything to do with alleged vote fraud. It’s all about preventing poor people from casting a ballot under a hot Georgia sun.
Other parts of the SB 202 bill include allowing unlimited challenges to people attempting to vote. This gives a license for racists trying to stop Black, Asian, Indigenous and Latinx people from voting. Voting by mail will be made harder as well.
Kemp signed the bill surrounded by six white men. Behind the governor was a painting of the Callaway Plantation where a hundred enslaved Africans made its owner rich.
Meanwhile, Cannon was handcuffed and dragged by officers of the Georgia State Patrol, whose name is a reminder of the slave patrols that hunted runaway Africans.
The white supremacy seen inside and outside the governor’s office was deliberate. Kemp was making an openly racist appeal to Trump supporters in order to avoid a primary challenge next year.
Kemp had stolen the 2018 governor’s election from Stacey Adams by purging the election rolls of 700,000 voters, the vast majority of whom were people of color. At the time, Kemp was Georgia’s secretary of state and illegally got to determine who could vote.
Attacking voting rights coast-to-coast
Nine days before Gov. Kemp signed a bill to gut voting rights, six Asian women and two other people were killed in the Atlanta area by a racist gunman.
This atrocity came after a year of Trump and his supporters blaming Asian people for COVID-19. Thousands of Asian people have been attacked.
Kemp’s racist voter suppression bill is aimed at Asian voters, too. The votes of Asian people helped defeat Trump in Georgia.
The white supremacist drive to deny voting rights isn’t confined to Georgia or the South. As of Feb. 19, at least 253 bills have been introduced in 43 states to make it harder to vote.
After Trump lost Wisconsin last year, three of the seven judges on the state’s Supreme Court wanted to throw out the election results.
Coordinating the attack on voting rights is the Heritage Foundation, whose founder Joseph Coors broke the union at the family’s Colorado brewery. The lavishly funded outfit defended the apartheid regime in South Africa and declared “Nelson Mandela is not a freedom fighter.” The Heritage Foundation is also a hate factory against LGBTQ2S people.
For many capitalists, democracy is becoming dangerous. Too many poor people are voting.
David Harsanyi, now a senior writer at the National Review, wants to “weed out ignorant Americans from the electorate.” Harsanyi isn’t talking about the millions of bigots who voted for Trump. He wants to force voters to pass a quiz in order to cast a ballot.
That’s like the deliberately misnamed “literacy” tests that were used to stop Black people from voting in Mississippi just two generations ago. At the time, the National Review declared “the South must prevail” in denying human rights to Black people.
The rich can’t tolerate democracy
The Washington Post attacked the voting restrictions in Georgia. Yet the newspaper’s owner, billionaire Jeff Bezos, doesn’t want workers in his Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., to vote for a union.
Capitalist elections have been used to bulldoze through cutbacks like Proposition 13, passed in a 1978 California referendum. This resulted in defunding the public schools there for over 40 years.
Yet when Baltimore voted for rent control in 1979, the results were thrown out by a judge.
If there really was democracy in the United States, people would be able to vote for a $20 minimum wage. They could vote for the right to housing, jobs and health care, as well as for community control of the police.
These absolutely necessary demands will be won on the streets. That doesn’t mean socialists sneer at the struggle for voting rights. V.I. Lenin ― the leader of the Russian Revolution ― declared in “What Is To Be Done?” that revolutionary socialists are the greatest fighters for democracy.
It’s outrageous that voting rights can come under attack 70 years after Harriette Moore and Harry T. Moore were bombed in their home on Christmas Day 1951. They were murdered by the Klan for registering Black voters in Florida.
Fifty-eight years ago, Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963. Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett embraced Evers’ assassin at his trial. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is just a latter-day version of Barnett.
A few months after Evers was murdered, Malcolm X delivered his famous speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet” on April 3, 1964. Malcolm X pointed out that dozens of members of the U.S. Congress were there only because Black people couldn’t vote.
The 14th Amendment called for these Dixiecrats to be expelled from Congress but the Democratic Party leaders refused to do so. They even refused to seat Fannie Lou Hamer and other Black members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic Convention.
It was the Black freedom struggle that won voting rights for all people. The 26 million people who demonstrated for George Floyd will not have their votes stolen.
If the capitalists don’t want us to use the ballot, they may force people to use the bullet.