The obvious intent to eliminate African American and Latino voters energized us to turn out in record numbers
Leading up to November 6th, I found
myself focused on the matter of voter suppression and electoral shenanigans
committed by the Republicans. This concern was not for nothing. Prior to and on
Election Day there were myriad attempts to subvert the vote, particularly the
vote of people of color. On Election Day in Pennsylvania, for instance, there was a
voting machine that would convert an Obama vote into a Romney vote (and this
was captured on film). Frivolous voter challenges started well before Election
Day itself, again targeting African American and Latino voters.
What was most striking about the 2012 election,
then, was that in the face of this attack on our right to vote, there was
something akin to a popular revolt by the African American and Latino
electorate. Latinos voted over 70% for Obama and African Americans over 93%. But
those figures do not tell enough. It was the turnout that was so significant. Despite
efforts by the political Right to dampen African American enthusiasm for Obama,
using the issue of same-sex marriage, this tactic failed dismally. And
Romney’s cynical anti-Latino approach, as evidenced during this primary
campaign, came back to bite him in the rear.
It was more than this, however. It was something
that you had to feel if you waited in line to vote. I went three times to try
to engage in early voting. The first two times the line was out the building
and I decided to return at a later date. On the third time, I thought I had
arrived early enough only to discover that the line started well within the
building. I was on line for two hours, and this was early voting. Around
there were stories like that one - people standing in line for one to seven
hours in order to vote.
In effect, what we saw was a counter-attack by
the African American and Latino electorate against those who would attempt to
disenfranchise us. The obvious intent to eliminate African American and Latino
voters, rather than scaring us into submission and docility, energized us to
turn out in record numbers. There are many lessons there and one is that we can
actually overwhelm the other side by sheer numbers and audacity.
There was something akin to a popular revolt by the African American and Latino electorate
There were many other things about the election that
I have reflected upon, but one is a question that I must pose to African
American and Latino Republicans. It is simple: how can you associate with a
party that quite consciously set out to disenfranchise African American and
Latino voters? I must ask, what level of
self-hatred must one have to actively support a party that purged voter lists
to eliminate potential Democratic Party supporters, many of who are African
American and Latino? I must ask, what level of
self-hatred must one have to actively support a party that regularly used coded
language in order to appeal to a racist impulse among many white voters?
Get back with me on that, okay?
Board member and Columnist, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the
for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfricaForum, and the author of “They’re
Bankrupting Us” - And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. He is
also the co-author of Solidarity
Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, which examines the crisis of
organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.