MANSFIELD: 50 Years and Counting

By Mansfield Frazier

Glorious weather blessed marchers in Washington, DC this past weekend as the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington — which featured as its centerpiece Dr. Martin Luther King’s now famous “I Have a Dream” speech — was celebrated. Now, as then, tens (indeed, if not hundreds) of thousands attended.

And then as now, the focus was on jobs and voting rights. As the NAACP slogan goes, over the ensuing 50 years … much has changed, much has not. The unemployment rate among minorities is higher today than it was in 1963, and while more minorities than ever are registered to vote, efforts are afoot in many states across the nation to roll back those gains.

Those on the right have come to the accurate conclusion that the only way they’re going to recapture the White House (or maintain their ability to block any and every effort by progressives to move America forward) is to once again rig the ballot box. Numbers don’t lie, and the last census makes it abundantly clear that Republicans are at risk of being swept into the dustbin of history. The Angry White Male is at risk of becoming as extinct as the Dodo bird.

Their only option — which is being aided by a conservative Supreme Court — is to attempt to change laws state-by-state in order to limit the franchise of anyone they feel is not inclined to vote the Republican Party line. And they’ve been meeting with some degree of success.

While there’s talk of getting rid of the Electoral College, and pursuing other schemes that might put the Right back in the driver’s seat, the most common plan afoot is to pass new laws requiring voters to have an “approved” form of ID to vote. While the percentage of actual, documented voter fraud is infinitesimally miniscule, that hasn’t stopped efforts by legislators in state after state below the Cotton Curtain from changing the rules based on the lie that fraud is rampant.

Attorney General Eric Holder is about to have his hands full filing federal lawsuits to block these scurrilous efforts to take away folks right to vote, and while his efforts have to be encouraged and supported, there perhaps is another way to overcome: Compliance.

While Holder should continue his efforts, a massive effort to insure that every citizen who wants to vote has unimpeachable ID should be undertaken. In that way, even if Southerners do manage to pass such unfair laws (and the Supreme Court upholds them), the net number of voters disenfranchised will be very close to zero … indeed, so close it won’t make a statistical difference.

I completely understand the need all fair-minded people have to want to push back against the noxious efforts of right wingers to take away the vote from American citizens, and again, that fight should continue, but, considering the backward tilt of the Supreme Court, having a plan B just in case makes a lot of sense.


From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting





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