This is one of those weeks that tend to reaffirm my stubborn refusal to give up being a registered blank, even after my retirement from journalism, and enroll in a party. Between Republican voter suppression, especially in Georgia, and Democratic helplessness, especially in the Senate, I'm going to stay a blank for a while yet.
The situation in Georgia positively stinks of Jim Crow. It's a more technological version of asking potential African-American voters impossible questions, such as how many jellybeans are in a jar or how many bubbles a bar of soap can produce. That kind of poll test was just one way that white supremacists in the South managed to keep African-American citizens from voting in the past. Today's version includes the voter ID scam: It starts with the false notion that millions of sneaky voters are out there, just dying to vote twice, or without being registered. That leads to passage of ID requirements that are either too expensive or too logistically difficult for too many people of limited means.
Now, in Georgia, the Republicans have a breathtaking new way of disenfranchising voters of color: Their candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, is also the secretary of state. That job gives him significant control over elections. And boy, is Secretary of State Kemp using it to help gubernatorial candidate Kemp.
For years, Kemp has been pruning the voter rolls, removing large numbers of African-American voters. This year, he's holding up 53,000 new registrations, mostly by people of color, with the help of an "exact match" requirement that enables him to invalidate a registration for the tiniest, most nanoscale problems, such as a dropped hyphen in a last name. His opponent in this race is Stacey Abrams, who just happens to be a highly accomplished African-American woman with a real chance of beating him—unless his voter-suppression tactics cripple her campaign. Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times spells it out in infuriating detail in this column. And the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law offers this analysis of voter suppression in Georgia, including Kemp's five-year battle with a civic group that Abrams founded, a battle that disrupted the group's voter registration efforts.
The only honorable options for Kemp would be to resign as secretary of state or recuse himself from controlling the voting process in this cycle. But he's one of the Trumpkins, and honorable is a word that doesn't appear in their dictionary. The "president" himself demonstrated that lack of honor when Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes asked him about his public mocking of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually abusing her years ago. “It doesn’t matter,” President Spanky said. “We won.” So much for honorable.
As to winning, that's something that Senate Democrats seem almost purposely to avoid. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York agreed to a bizarre, lopsided deal with wily, conscience-free Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky: The Democrats would allow McConnell to rush 15 right-wing judges to confirmation, and the Democrats would get (drum roll) the ability to head back to their home states in October and campaign for re-election. But this week, the Republicans pulled yet another fast one: a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on six more right-wing judicial candidates.
Even a former Schumer aide, Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, expressed outrage. "To me, it's a sign that they didn't just get stuffed in a locker here; they had their lunch money taken," Fallon said, in an article on Common Dreams, a progressive online publication. "If the Democrats were going to fast-track all those Trump judges to get out of town for the rest of October, the least they could have gotten for their trouble was a commitment from McConnell to not still hold hearings while the Senate was adjourned." But no. Even though the Senate is technically in recess, the committee hearing rolled on, minus any participation by Democrats.
Maybe Schumer is too tired from all those dopey Sunday press conferences he stages, to get a few lines of coverage on some tiny issue. Or maybe he's just not up to the job. Either way, it looks as if the Senate Democrats are unable to cope with the win-at-all-costs cynicism of the Republicans.
Though I'll be voting for Democrats on November 6, out of a sense of outrage at the 24/7 nastiness of Republicans, it's the tactical ineptitude of the Democrats that will keep me a registered blank.
First in my class in Officer Candidate School. Late to the conclusion that our attitude toward the military is idolatrous.