In the era of Trump, social and political maladies that were once said and done behind closed doors are now open for all to see. The subtext is now the text. Voter suppression is one of many of these maladies. It is clearly working hand in hand with its partner gerrymandering to suppress the votes of citizens of color.
Voting districts have been changed, polling locations closed in minority communities, COVID-19 is being used as a reason to not have voting on the campus of the University of Georgia – a public university – while athletic events can go on, the largest most diverse county in Texas has banned mail-in voting, and on and on.
Let’s just say it clearly – it is not a priority for the United States for all of its citizens to vote.
It is clear to see how voter suppression is systematic and in fact an election strategy. We seem to have capitulated to the idea that voter suppression is now a viable American policy to maintain power.
As effective as voter suppression is, voter disenfranchisement is just as impactful on elections, just as systemic, and probably more insidious. People of color have every right to be disillusioned by politics and the political parties. A government for and by the people has continued to post ‘bad checks’ in the words of Dr. King. Voter disenfranchisement is a long-term strategy. It is employed by those with power to keep those with less power hopeless to engage political and social systems. Those with power are threatened by the collective power amongst its vulnerable citizens; therefore, it isolates individuals with the lie that their vote does not matter.
Voter suppression is a deliberate tactic used to continue to build on generations of voter disenfranchisement. For instance, the amount of unregistered black citizens is greater than the margins of victories in many of the key swing states in the 2016 election. But a more powerful black voting block does not serve the interests of the political parties and the nation they uphold.
The America that we were taught about from white history books would have told us that neither voter suppression nor voter disenfranchisement should be “American”. However, we know that the American dream is only for some of its citizens and not for others. The American dream is actually built for some of its citizens by exploiting and marginalizing its other citizens.
As we look at social disparity in America across racial lines, we conclude that America is working exactly as it was designed to. Voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement are key tools in keeping the American dream alive for those who it is made for and further distancing black and brown citizens from utilizing the power we have.
In the great words of the American philosopher Childish Gambino… “This is America.”
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