Middle American News
Led by Jesse Jackson, beginning on November 8, black leaders, organizations, and civilians, have claimed that George W. Bush’s electoral victory in Florida, and thus, his presidential victory, was had only through the massive, systematic disenfranchisement of black voters.
Jackson & Co. have insisted that Republicans re-invigorated the heritages of slavery and Jim Crow, through, among other tactics, stationing police roadblocks in black neighborhoods, and officers in and around polling places, to intimidate blacks out of voting; saddling black “electors” [sic] with dilapidated, malfunctioning voting equipment, confusing “butterfly ballots,” and misleading instructions at polling places; denying voting rights to registered voters; making new, outrageous demands for photo ID; using Jim Crow-type legislation to deprive blacks of their rights; and lastly, siccing vicious dogs, and even drawing guns on black voters, to keep them from the polls.
No hard evidence was provided on behalf of any of the charges, each of which proved to be a lie or a distortion. But the facts didn’t matter. The Rev. Jesse Jackson knew that he could bank on obsequious mainstream news coverage, and on black voters’ echoing of his charges, no matter how outrageous they were. Due to the sheer quantity of the claims, I will limit myself to the most frequently made, and most outrageous charges.
“Racist police roadblocks”
Media coverage suggested that in black neighborhoods all over Florida, racist white police officers had set up roadblocks to intimidate black voters out of going to polling places. In fact, we kept hearing about THE SAME CHECKPOINT in southern Leon County. Again and again and again.
(Jackson & Co. emphasized that that checkpoint was two miles away from the nearest polling place, as if this fact were significant. In much of Florida on Election Day, it would have been impossible to travel two miles in any direction, without coming across a polling place. Had police wanted to stop black voters from reaching a polling place, they would have had to set up a roadblock nearby, not two miles away. And the roadblock in question was not responsible for a single black voter failing to cast his vote.)
One month after the election, the Rev. Jesse Jackson still insisted, that “Only African Americans were stopped by police as they sought to vote.” In fact, every fifth driver was stopped, as per Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) guidelines. One hundred and fifty cars were stopped for routine checks, and 18 motorists were ticketed. Twelve of the motorists were white; only six were black.
Major Ken Howes of FHP reported, “This particular checkpoint was one of 31 similar checkpoints conducted during the thirty days prior to November 7.” Major Howes also determined, contrary to “accusations, coming from high-ranking political officials, [and] publicized in various media reports,” that “troopers did not visit any polling places, and no parking tickets were written in the parking lots of voting precincts while owners/drivers of the vehicles were inside the precinct voting.”
In another much publicized incident, police were active near a polling place, due to an ongoing robbery investigation.
“Dilapidated voting machinery in black neighborhoods”
The Rev. Jackson insisted that black neighborhoods were much more likely to be saddled with ballot-punch voting machines, which had the highest percentage of error. In fact, as Nancy Cook Lauer showed in the December 3 Tallahassee Democrat, the poorest neighborhoods tended not to have punch-card ballots, but rather state-of-the-art, optical-scanner balloting. The average income of districts with optical-scanner ballots was $21,464, whereas the average income of districts with punch-card ballots, including predominantly white Palm Beach County, was $24,849: “This explodes the prevailing theory that poorer counties had fewer votes counted because they use antiquated punch-card systems, instead of the more state-of-the-art optical-balloting systems ...” Some black voters complained that they were ordered to produce photo identification, which had not been required in earlier elections. An irate black voter asserted, “It can’t suddenly be the law now.” But it suddenly was the law. In response to massive vote-fraud in the 1997 Miami mayoral election, Florida passed a law in 1998 that required that voters provide election officials with photo identification.
“Voters were misinformed about how to vote.”
Black voters complained that they had been told to “vote on every page.” Since the presidential candidates covered two pages, voting on both pages resulted in their votes being thrown out. However, the same voters reported that the misinformation came exclusively from Democratic Party poll workers, many of whom were black. Speaking in the passive voice, the Rev. Jackson was careful to omit this fact.
“Black college students were disenfranchised.”
Black students at white-free campuses Florida A & M University, and Bethune-Cookman and Edward Waters colleges, insisted that they had registered to vote, yet had been denied the franchise. In fact, the students had not properly completed their registration by the October 10 deadline. Or they lied. As Timothy Carney reported in the December 22 online edition of Human Events, not one single student complained to the local election boards of being disenfranchised. (Postscript: It turned out that far from students at the aforementioned segregated campuses being disenfranchised, many students engaged in vote fraud, through voting twice – once using their home address, and once using their college address. The students in question sent in absentee ballots and voted at polling places on Election Day. Unfortunately, cowardly Florida election authorities, surely fearing another “blacklash,” refrained from prosecuting any of the malefactors.)
“Black registered voters were targeted for disenfranchisement.”
Various media outlets, including the Village Voice and Salon.com, claimed that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris had, through ChoicePoint, a company commissioned to eliminate convicted felons from the voting rolls, targeted black non-felons for disenfranchisement. In lieu of any evidence to support their charges, the writers quickly segued to claims that such laws were a vestige of the Jim Crow era.
The writers’ real complaint was that black felons, a potential Democratic constituency, were not being permitted to vote. Since the Florida felon law was passed in 1868, it was irrelevant to claims of a conspiracy to disenfranchise black Floridians 132 years later.
Laws denying convicted felons the franchise are pervasive in the U.S. Socialists never complained about such laws during previous elections, or in northern states.
Reporters playing the Jim Crow card were silent on the real Florida felon story, whereby according to the Miami Herald, some 5,000 convicted felons, 75 percent of whom were registered Democrats, illegally voted in Florida. (Postscript: To my knowledge, none of the felons who committed vote fraud was prosecuted, yet another case of Florida officials backing off, in the face of black racial demagoguery.)
The most outrageous charge alleged that black Floridians were barred from voting by authorities using “dogs and guns.” That charge, evoking Bull Connor’s Birmingham in 1963, was fabricated out of thin air, by Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazille. Brazille’s penchant for lying had already gotten her fired from the Dukakis for President campaign in 1988.
In the December 7 New York Times, columnist Bob Herbert claimed that, “Blacks turned out to vote in record numbers in Florida this year, but huge numbers were systematically turned away for one specious reason after another.”
Let’s see. In the 2000 election, blacks made up 16 percent of Florida’s voters, over 50 percent more than in the 1996 election, and MORE than their percentage (15 percent) of the population. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, to see that it’s well nigh impossible for a group to increase its portion of voters by over fifty percent, in spite of “huge numbers [being] systematically turned away.”
In a December 5 Village Voice story ostensibly on disenfranchisement, Jill Conaway and James Ridgeway approvingly quoted Jamaican-born black supremacist, Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), on the need for black power. Conaway and Ridgeway neglected to mention that Garvey, who anticipated a worldwide racial Armageddon, called himself the father of fascism, and derided Mussolini and Hitler as mere imitators.
The creation of majority-black districts for local and state races has given African Americans a steady, if small, presence on town councils, in state assemblies, and on Capitol Hill. By gaining these measures of self-determination, African Americans have in part fulfilled the prediction of Marcus Garvey, who argued the only way for black people truly to be free was to found a nation-state of their own.
Though black people in the South were nearly unanimous in support for Gore, their votes were scattered across state lines and thus submerged through the electoral college as completely as if they’d never been cast.
Garvey’s ideas may sound revolutionary, but the courts have consistently ruled that without predominantly black districts, African Americans lack a fair chance at representation.
As the writers had to know, the Supreme Court had struck down racial redistricting.
Conaway and Ridgeway were apparently using Florida as a pretext for supporting the building of a black counter-nation within America, in which blacks, who number only 12 percent of the population, would be guaranteed victory and control. That control would have more in common with Marcus Garvey’s fascism, than with anything contained in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, or The Federalist Papers.
Conaway and Ridgeway were fronting for Harvard Law School Professor Lani Guinier, the “quota queen” whom Bill Clinton nominated in 1993 to run the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. A bitter Guinier withdrew her candidacy in the face of a firestorm of criticism, when it came out that in a law journal article, she had called for proportional representation based on race, and for blacks as a group to enjoy a political veto right.
Last December 18, Lani Guinier published an op-ed essay on Florida in the New York Times, again calling for an unconstitutional, proportional voting system.
On Christmas Eve, Washington Post columnist William Raspberry told of a conversation with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, in which the latter referred to Florida in terms of “reparations,” and the need for whites to live in shame, in their dealings with blacks:
Some people make the point that even if none of us ever collects a dime, establishing the legitimacy of reparations says: We owe you. Psychologically, that’s important. If I know I owe you $200,000, even if we both know there’s no way I can ever come up with the money, I walk past you with my head down. But suppose I can prove that you owe me $250,000. Maybe you don’t have the money, either, but at least I can hold my head up. Bush will know that he owes us for an election that was stolen from us.
Listening as black leaders and civilians, and their white allies, continue to spread the lies of the Florida Disenfranchisement Hoax, it becomes clear that Florida WAS about disenfranchisement – the attempted disenfranchisement of white voters.