I was planning to spend the Christmas holidays recuperating from a triceps injury and knee surgery, and enjoying time with family and friends. I wrote what was supposed to be my last column of 2011, and figured I’d re-engage just after New Year’s Day. Then something so maddening came along that I couldn’t stay silent about it. What it says about liberal condescension toward blacks ought to make us angry, but because we’re fixated on labels rather than truth, not enough will react to make a difference.
A little more than two years ago, the Department of Justice denied the city of Kinston, North Carolina the right to hold non-partisan elections. They have jurisdiction over the city thanks to the Voting Rights Act, which requires specific localities to gain federal approval of changes to the electoral process because of their past history of voter disenfranchisement targeting black voters.
It’s the decision, however, rather than the jurisdiction, which is the issue here. The residents of the city voted by a 2-to-1 margin to make their municipal elections non-partisan, and the measure seemed to have the support of black and white residents. In fact, the measure won majority support in seven of the nine predominantly black wards.
The DOJ, however, struck down the voters’ decision, with Loretta King, then the acting director of the civil rights division, declaring that removing party labels would somehow discriminate against black candidates. Ms. King is the same DOJ official who dismissed the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, so this decision is probably consistent with the selective justice being practiced at the DOJ these days:
“Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office.”
At the time, I ridiculed this explanation, suggesting that a black voter might have more “cues” than just party affiliation to determine whether or not a candidate is black:
What does the party label have to do with electing black candidates to office? Do black voters need party labels to distinguish black candidates from the others? Wouldn’t it be pretty obvious which candidates were black and which ones weren’t? Aren't the only factors necessary to “allow” black candidates to be elected are a willing candidate and people willing to vote for them? What’s going on here?
Let me translate for you. The DOJ is saying, in effect, without the party labels, blacks might 1) vote for a white person, or 2) the “wrong” kind of black person. After all, those racist conservatives might try to trick black voters by putting one of their black stooges on the ballot. We can’t trust the voters to study the candidates and make an informed choice.
When this ruling was issued, I expressed the hope that the city would file suit against the DOJ but I doubted the city officials, all Democrats, would rock the boat. I was right. The city declined to sue, but a North Carolina Republican state legislator and several residents of Kinston chose to move forward with a lawsuit, which was rejected by a U.S. District Court late last week. The suit was filed on constitutional grounds, and it was broader than the specific DOJ ruling which triggered it, so I’m not certain of the merits of the case as it goes forward on appeal.
I do know this, however. It is an insult to those who fought and died so that black people could exercise their right to vote to suggest that removing party labels from candidates on a ballot constitutes an act of racism.
If anything, the argument that blacks won’t know for whom to vote if “the partisan cue” is missing is disparaging on a number of levels. It suggests black voters are not capable of researching the candidates and their records in order to make their choices, and that they are conditioned like lab animals to vote without question for the candidate with a “D” after their name.
Only in the bizzaro world of liberal politics can a black DOJ official, working in a department headed by a black attorney general, declare black people not bright enough to vote using their own minds and judgment, and in need of a “cue” to make the politically correct choice, and get away with it.