Stacey Abram’s Raison d’etre/Brian Kemp’s Vigilantism

Kemp and his “Big Lie” Republican Mob Trying to Steal Election

The president has created an atmosphere of lawlessness in this country that has emboldened other politicians in power to act against long established precedents and protocols. In many cases what they are doing is illegal and hostile to the rule of law. But let me warn you. Don’t try this if you are Black, a woman, or a person of color. But the coast is perfectly clear if you are a white male.

The latest white male politician to flaunt the law is Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp who also is the Republican nominee for governor in Georgia. The Secretary of State is the last word in the state on election procedures and fairness. There is no doubt he has a serious conflict of interest in that he is both candidate and referee at the same time.

Not only is Kemp seriously conflicted out, he has a history of voter suppression and is engaged in suppressing minority vote at this very moment. He was sued and lost a suit based on the same claims several years ago. At publication date of this column, he is being sued again by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. It filed suit on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, ProGeorgia State Table, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, and the New Georgia Project.

Kemp is overseeing a voter suppression scheme called exact match protocol. Under this scheme a voter can be disqualified if a hyphen or apostrophe is missing from the way a name is inputted in two data bases used by the state. Also, if you have a name like Tom Brown vs Thomas Brown, you may wound up on a purge list.

These voter suppression tricks are throwbacks to days of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other obstacles placed in the way of minorities trying to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot for candidates of their choice. What makes exact match even more insidious is the registrant does not control the inputting of data, some clerk does. Human error would hold there are some mistakes that will be made in any event. But given we are talking about the state of Georgia, with it long history of disenfranchising minority voters, something more sinister is probably at play.

Eyes all over the world are on Georgia and Kemp. But like his mentor and idol, Donald Trump, he does not care. Winning at all cost is what he cares about. Plus, as a privileged white male running against a black woman, State Democratic Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, he believes he is entitled to the Office of the Governor very similar to Brett Kavanaugh’s belief in his entitlement to a position on the Supreme Court.

Kemp, who was not the first choice of the Republican elite in Georgia, was not supposed to end up as the Republican nominee. Now that he finds himself there, he is running scared. He will right out steal the election if he thinks he can get away with it. He feels emboldened, by the President’s ignoring precedents and fair play, to ignore reasonable calls for him to step down from the Office of Secretary of State while he runs for governor. Instead, he’s turning his nose up as requests for him to leave office escalate. “If Trump refuses to disclose to the public his income tax returns, why should I step down,” Kemp rationalizes.

When Trump lies without a conscience and slams the media, referring to them as “fake news,” why would Kemp drop exact match when data show it disproportionately affects racial minorities? Republicans now have all lined up behind the president and they have adopted his bombastic style and, unfortunately, his deeply flawed character. If caught in a lie, according to today’s Republicans, tell a bigger one and challenge the public to believe the GOP’s words, not one’s own eyes.

This weekend an example of how the big lie works was on full display when Sen. Tom Perdue snatched a cell phone from the hands of a Georgia Tech student who asked Perdue how could he support Kemp knowing he is trying to disenfranchise over 50,000 Georgians, 70% of whom are minorities. Instead of offering a sincere apology or response to the question, Perdue lied by saying he thought the student wanted to take a selfie with him. The news footage shows otherwise. But lying in the presence of a camera now a days, is commonplace.

Lying now is respectable; telling the truth is not a value we revere anymore. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings was just one example of how low we have fallen from grace. The members were going to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court no matter what. The truth of what happened to Dr. Blasey, Ms. Ramirez, and others will never be known because Republicans no longer care about the truth, just winning.

It bothers me now that some Democrats are urging progressives to start acting more like Republicans: pursue court packing as a singular election issue, embrace deeply polarizing perspectives, lie, if necessary—win at all cost. I hope Democrats reject this call to mimic 45 and his Republican nod squad.

Democrats need a new raison d’ etre, but it cannot be based on lies, fairy tales, totalitarianism, anti-intellectualism, and playing to the fears of racial supremacists. It must be based on vision, big thinking, leveraging the high level of education, material development, and traditions of civil rights and liberties.

The Republicans are bragging about the low unemployment rate, but they are not talking about the quality of jobs or stagnant wages of workers. While we applaud and want investors to continue to risk their capital, we must alter an economic system that rewards stockholders and top management at the expense of those who create wealth through their hard work and dedication. Manufacturing and other industries in America are great because of the ingenuity of workers, not just management, technology, and capital.

This leads us to mention the real problem in the economy, it is income inequality and the way in which the rich pay relatively little taxes compared to those of us who work for a living and pay our fair share. Honest pay for honest work has always been a bedrock of our democracy. In a capitalist, mixed economy democracy, families stimulate the economy through home ownership, discretionary spending, and prudent investments in their future.

Democrats should follow the footsteps of Stacey Abrams. She knows Kemp is trying to steal the election from her and the people of Georgia, but she is telling citizens to insist on their right to vote; others paid a high price in blood for that right. She is focusing on three simple, and consistent message points, and she delivers these points everywhere she goes in Georgia: education that works for all; healthcare for all, from cradle to grave; and jobs with sustainable wages and dignity.

She is betting if she tells the truth to voters and partners with them in a raison d’ etre to improve their lives and that of their children, she will win in the end. The election is being watched nationwide. It will test her vision and my theory that truth-telling and focusing on bread and butter issues for workers and the middle class like education, jobs, and healthcare can triumph over big lies, voter suppression, race baiting, scapegoating, and catering to gun lobbyists.

Don’t just wait for election results to see if they come true. Get out and fight for the Georgia we want. Let’s create a fair and just Georgia that leads to a New America that is “great” for all.

 

 

 

 

 

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