Sunday, September 9, 2012

They Claim Frederick Douglass as a Hero But Today's (Black) Republicans Would Keep Him From Voting

The Tea Party GOP is engaged in a concerted effort to keep African Americans from voting. This is not surprising given the Republican Party's animus towards people of color; likewise, Romney and Ryan are bereft of new ideas--save for a retread of the failed supply side, trickle down economics which led to the Great Recession. Voter suppression reflects both these realities.

While their efforts to demobilize voters by robbing them of basic rights through onerous and unnecessary restrictions on access to the franchise is par for the Southern Strategy 2.0, there is a core level of hypocrisy present in the Tea Party GOP's machinations that should be called out for the base ugliness which it embodies.

Republicans are quick to claim the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. 
However, the Republican Party is also the United States' de facto White political party: it lives off of the toxic fumes of "colorblind" racism and white identity politics.

Once more, history (and empirical reality) confounds and exposes the big lie that is the modus operandi of the Right.

The Tea Party GOP's efforts at robbing black folks of their constitutional right to vote is an affront to the legacies of both Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lincoln. The former fought and died in the Black Freedom Struggle; the Voting Rights Act was one of his crowning achievements. Lincoln defeated the Confederacy. This led to Reconstruction, what was one of the most radically democratic experiments in American history where men who were just a few years (or months) ago counted as human property would soon elect their own leaders (and kin) to Congress and the Senate.

King and Lincoln died to expand the franchise to millions of black Americans. The Tea Party GOP is working to steal the right to vote from black Americans so that Romney and Ryan can be elected to the White House. This is an ugly juxaposition: it directly contrasts a struggle for the Common Good with a selfish political exercise to install a plutocrat who will continue to represent the interests of the one percent at the expense of the rest of us. 

There is another American icon that is claimed by the Tea Party GOP, one who has a "special relationship" with black conservatives. Frederick Douglass, radical abolitionist, intellectual, and freedom fighter, is consider a shining star, "one of their own" by black conservatives. In a twist of history, Douglass, this hero to black Republicans, would be disenfranchised by the very anti-voting access policies that the Tea Party GOP is implementing across the United States.

David Blight, one of America's great historians, called attention to this reality in a recent essay in the NY Times. Here, he unleashes rhetorical violence on the Republican Party and the white supremacist roots of their efforts to deny black folks (and others) the right to vote in the upcoming election:
By the mid-1840s, he had emerged as one of the greatest orators and writers in American history. But legally, Douglass began his public life by committing what today we would consider voter fraud, using an assumed name...
In Douglass’s greatest speech, the Fourth of July oration in 1852, he argued that often the only way to describe American hypocrisy about race was with “scorching irony,” “biting ridicule” and “withering sarcasm.” Today’s Republican Party seems deeply concerned with rooting out voter fraud of the kind Douglass practiced. So, with Douglass’s story as background, I have a modest proposal for it. In the 23 states where Republicans have either enacted voter-ID laws or shortened early voting hours in urban districts, and consistent with their current reigning ideology, they should adopt a simpler strategy of voter suppression.  
To those potentially millions of young, elderly, brown and black registered voters who, despite no evidence of voter fraud, they now insist must obtain government ID, why not merely offer money? Pay them not to vote. Give each a check for $711 in honor of Frederick Douglass. Buy their “freedom,” and the election. Call it the “Frederick Douglass Voter Voucher.” 
Give people a choice: take the money and just not vote, or travel miles without easy transportation to obtain a driver’s license they do not need. It’s their “liberty”; let them decide how best to use it. Perhaps they will forget their history as much as the Republican Party seems to wish the nation would.
Black conservatives are one of the rotten legs supporting the racist stool that is the Tea Party GOP. As such, their silence is expected. It is part of a bargain which they have made. For many, it is a lucrative hustle that pays the bills and brings the marginally talented an outsized amount of attention and exposure. 

This makes their choice to stand mute, or in some cases to serve as the human props and political blackface mask in support of efforts to demobilize African American voters, no less contemptible. Black conservatives want to claim Frederick Douglass, but they spit in the face of his legacy. 

Ultimately, such contradictions cause no cognitive dissonance or upset. Black conservatives who stand silent on these matters, or commit the civic sin of supporting the disenfranchisement of black and brown folks (as well as the poor), demonstrate that they too are slaves to the psychic wages of Whiteness--and the material gains that come with the choice to be a political Judas, Kiplingesque middle man, or colonial administrator who can interpret the drums of the natives.

Black conservatives such as these are not the descendants of Frederick Douglass, a great man who beat down an evil white overseer and slave breaker named Covey, escaped to freedom, and became a legend for all time. 

Rather, the black conservatives of the C.L. Bryant stripe, those Clarence Thomases, Herman Cains, Allen Wests, and other related ilk, were more likely to play the role of the mythic Black Confederate, fighting and dying in the service of their white masters to keep other African-Americans in chains and bondage.

In total, black conservatives and the Tea Party GOP need to get Frederick Douglass out of their collective mouth, for they are not heirs, in any way, to his honored legacy. 


nomad said...

Down with black political Judases!

chaunceydevega said...

@nomad. feel free to use for 1/10 of 1 cent per occasion.

Plane Ideas said...


Again despite our differences no one in the chatter class of late can come close to your genius with regard to articulating with the finest draftmanship in the market place on things of race and politics..

You are truly becoming iconic as I noted my reservations about our interactions have nothing to do with your brillant talents on the page..

Anonymous said...

Of course it must be said that this twisted loyalty that Black Conservatives have for the Tea Party and the GOP is also present with other groups of minorities which cheerlead for the GOP despite it's ugly legacy towards them.

There are Hispanics, Asians, Indians,Gays,Jews, which proudly display their love and loyalty to the Tea Party and the GOP without any hesitations.

There is also a salient lack of intensity for BO in these groups which support BO.

Many Black Americans are quietly upset over the disconnect that has surfaced with our allies about BO . I opine that if BO loses the election this strain between Black Americans and progressives and the others of color will become a major problem going forward..

Black Sage said...

Black conservatives of the C.L. Bryant stripe, those Clarence Thomases, Herman Cains, Allen Wests, and other related ilk, were more likely to play the role of the mythic Black Confederate, fighting and dying in the service of their white masters to keep other African-Americans in chains and bondage. – ChaunceyD

After Benedict Arnold defected to the British, he was quickly promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the British Army, an annual pension of 360 British pounds and a lump sum of over 6,000 British pounds. He allowed small amount of money to blind his senses and faculties for the mere selling out of an entire country.

On the other hand, Judas, an Apostle of the Son of Christ betrayed Jesus for a mere thirty pieces of silver. Judas agreed to identify the Son of Christ to Roman authorities by kissing Jesus, thereby, signaling to the authorities precisely who was the Son of Christ. The identification of Jesus via the “Judas kiss”, ultimately lead to Him being crucified.

There is no different with today’s group of fast talking, White shoe wearing, twisted Afro-hairstyle JudaArnolds. Controlled puppeteers akin to C.L. Bryant, Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas amongst other sellouts are in essence and at the lowest denominator, selfish individuals. There are two elements that are always consistent. Traitors come quite cheap at the expense of an entire group of people teetering on the brink of being placed back into the trenches of full bondage and they place themselves first, instead of pursuing the benefit and common good for all.

In summary, traitors are mere cowards, cloaked in honorary garb bequeathed upon them by Whites and are always utilized as human mouthpiece tools to further valorize the status quo!

ellemarie said...

You know what really kills me about when Republicans and Conservatives (black or otherwise) take this tack is that the underlying presumption of this approach, and any other where they try to position themselves as the inheritors of the legacies of progressive or civil rights icons, is that black people at best lack political savvy and at worst are just stupid. It’s as if no one has even considered the possibility that black folks are overwhelmingly Democrats because we are politically astute and can see clear as day that Democrats have chosen to be (for the most part) the party to openly protect the rights so desperately fought for, while the Republicans race bait. They think we don’t know that Republican/Conservative operatives created the southern strategy. No, we’re just mindless sheep. They have no business proclaiming themselves to be the party of Lincoln unless it is in the most technical sense, because lord knows the increasingly retrograde ideology of the post-Civil Rights era Republican party aligns not at all with that of the progressive-for- his-time Lincoln. Only a fool would believe that, and the fact that the Republicans keep trotting that claim out, shows their contempt for black voters. I am constantly amazed by how this party gets away with what they do.

Invisible Man said...

You know what kills me about the Obama Campaign? After basically hanging a sign on the front door of the White House that basically says "Colored Entrance Through the Back Door, ONLY!" Now that it's
election time they liberally pimp the image of Martin Luther King to lure Black folks back into the fold. If Martin L. King was alive he would be voting Green and any one who's actually read about MLK knows this.

chaunceydevega said...

@IM. Where did Nader get us in 2000-2004, where will your principled green vote get us in 2012?

You can live with Romney-Ryan. I cannot. I respect your choice nonetheless.

nomad said...

If you can live with Obama-Biden, you can live with Romney-Ryan. True RR might be a direct assault against the things we hold dear. The trade off is that we would awake from our Obama anesthetized slumber and start fighting back again. Rather than being cajoled into working against our own interests. You may not want RR, but, in a way, that's exactly what you need.

"Yo enemy cain't do you no harm, cause you know where he coming from. Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya. Take my advice; I'm only tryin' to school ya."

Invisible Man said...


I agree with Noman, But consider this, I say those who voted for Nader were brave. Yet we get blamed, instead of Al Gore who ruined what should have been a cake walk of a campaign( the election should never have even been close) by his strategy of burying his connection to Clinton by selecting Joe Lieberman for VP and, running a campaign on conservative morality. Then when Bush was engaged in stealing the election in Florida, Gore stood by and watched. But you don't blame Gore you Blame us? Any time progressives attempt to hold the democratic party accountable, we get blamed. Is it any wonder why there is no accountability????

Finally, after three and a half years of centrists republican governing under a President who didn't run as a "democrat", but as a progressive change agent, I am ready for real Change, My point is the problem wasn't Obama as much as it was us Respectable Negroes. For the last three and a half years WE remained silent as opposed to pushing Obama to live up to his mandate. The only thing we really cared about was having a pretty Black family in the white house and we subsisted on those glossy Jet Magazine photos of Obama, his wife and his kids. Meanwhile for poor Black people the bottom was snatched out from under them, but the very same people running Obama's economic team. But you know how us Respectable Negros are,( quite as it's kept) we really don't care for poor Black people any way. Which is why we have an infinite tolerance for Black on Black violence. My point is I am ready for Romney( poor Black people have had "Romney" for the last three and a half years) if it will motivate us out of our negrotudeness sleep. After all it's only fair that we should have him as well. Maybe we will then have to learn from our people how to survive and we can teach them how to fight. As always I appreciate the dialogue.

StewartIII said...

NewsBusters| Daily Kos: Black Conservatives Serve Their 'White Masters' and Support 'Chains and Bondage' of Voter ID
Politico| Poll: 70% back voter ID laws

nomad said...

@Invisible Man
Maybe you didn't get my name right, but that's okay. This is right on the money: "For the last three and a half years WE remained silent as opposed to pushing Obama to live up to his mandate."
The silence of the black lambs.

Plane Ideas said...

Nonsense we just refuse to surrender like you have ... Being a cynic is easy not much effort is required....

nomad said...

Ironic choice of words. Surrender is blacks wannabe leaders and pundits who ask nothing of a sitting black president except that he sing like Al Green.

“For the first time in their history, black Americans have consciously and directly advocated being ignored.”

Surrender? Thy name is respectable Negro.

Invisible Man said...

further, Surrender is continuing the vote for the "lessor of two evils" over and over again and continuing to accept the same results. Voting Green means leaving the plantation and setting an example for others that our lot as a people can be different.

E.C. 2 said...

Following up on Black Sage's post, these same "black" conservatives would also have served as the colored informers who would have told the racist white segregationists which blacks to target, to maim, and to kill, during the Civil Rights Movement, and/or would also have served as the black face opponents of that same Civil Rights Movement.

Anonymous said...

Here in Cincinnati, rich white women are peddling the work of K. Carl Smith. Met him today. Ugh! He is here from Alabama to harass black voters and shout about how the sheriffs should be here (like in Alabama, he said) to stop "all this bullshit!" You know what he means? The buses of young voters from Jobs Corps and the vans full of union members who are coming out to vote Dem. The women won't say "Republican" to black folks (they're Tea partiers anyway) but they shove their literature into the faces of black voters shouting, "Frederick Douglass! Have you heard of Frederick Douglass?" They are so proud of themselves to have found a black face behind which they can try to hide their racist politics. Thanks for a forum in which I could vent about this disgusting ploy!