This is not what democracy looks like: Michigan House pushes to disenfranchise more of its own voters

NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony at a Thursday press conference points to Michigan House  voter suppression legislation currently on its way to the Senate for approval. PHOTO: Monica Morgan
NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony at a Thursday press conference points to Michigan House voter suppression legislation currently on its way to the Senate for approval. PHOTO: Monica Morgan

For all those who still believe we should give the Age of Trump a chance, please start paying attention. Because while you’re busy trying to be magnanimous and fair-minded, the Trump machine is busy stomping and kicking democracy into the dirt.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: this is not the time for us to seek the high road. This is the time to take whatever road that leads away from Trump’s America toward sanity. And all sane people need to work together to neutralize Trump and any Trump-related effects that are already being injected into the American mainstream like a virus.
On Wednesday night, the Michigan House of Representatives voted for stricter voter ID laws designed to disenfranchise as many non-white and non-Democrat Michigan residents as quick and thoroughly as they can. They also voted to muzzle union protest by imposing massive fees designed to scare any and all protesters away from ever daring to challenge an unjust employer.
Supporters of the voter ID bills (HB 6066-6068) disingenuously continue to claim that stricter laws are needed to protect against voter fraud, which has been proven to be both a lie and a deception. NAACP President Wendell Anthony perhaps said it best during a Thursday afternoon press conference held to publicly criticize this legislation and to also encourage active protest. The NAACP and other organizations are currently planning a protest for Tuesday in Lansing.
“According to the 15th amendment to the US Constitution, the right to vote is not to be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color, or previous or servitude. Why then are legislators seeking to abridge as well as to make subservient certain citizens within our nation?
“The issue of voter fraud has been debunked, defused, and the very idea simply dissed by the facts of the matter. It does not exist. At the level to which Republican legislators around our nation would have the public to believe.
“They are designed to reduce the votes of young people, seniors, rural and urban citizens and people of color.
“President Obama has even indicated that experts have found only 31 cases out of 1 billion votes between 2000 and 2014 that were determined to be cases of voter fraud.
Members of the Republican-led legislature in the Michigan House have presented no evidence of voter fraud, impersonation or insinuation by individuals who have voted illegally.”
That same night, the House passed two anti-union bills that will make it much more difficult for unions and workers to protest, but will [of course] make it simple for employers to hire workers to replace/displace striking employees. According to the Detroit Free Press, one of those bills would massively increase fines against picketers up to $1,000 per person per day of a picket/protest, and $10,000 per day for any organization or union involved in the protest. Currently the law states that mass picketing can be a misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
It’s hard to come to any other conclusion except that Republicans are feeling especially emboldened with Trump’s election to continue their quest to create a Michigan – and an America – where protest is a crime, subservience is mandatory, and the concept of a one-person-one-vote democracy becomes the stuff of fiction. Some might argue, with good reason, that we’ve already landed on the front porch of that rather disturbing future. Or, more accurately, that future has already landed on us.
“It appears that there are some lawmakers in the state of Michigan who have …totally ignored why we have a democracy in the first place. The recent move in last night’s legislative session with the passage of the bill 6066, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Lyons of Alto, is but another attempt to diminish disrespect and belittle the very essence of who we are as a nation,” said Anthony.
“The constant move to create an issue of voter fraud where none exists eliminates the right to vote when our constitution insists that every individual is entitled to exercise his or her franchise.”
Anthony pointed out that what is happening in Michigan is, in fact, part of a much larger – and seemingly coordinated – suppression effort to turn back the clock by any and all means necessary. In Wisconsin, efforts are underway to end early voting and voter mobilization programs such as Taking Your Souls to the Polls. In New Hampshire, thanks to Gov. Chris Sununu, there is a push to end same day registration. Other so-called ‘red’ states such as Texas have similar initiatives underway.
The obvious question is why are Republicans so afraid of American voters? Particularly American voters who aren’t white? And why so fearful of dissent? For that matter, why so fearful of a recount?
And why does this all have to be rush-rushed during a lame duck session just before [Merry??] Christmas? Kind of brings back memories of when Gov. Rick Snyder rushed and shoved his beloved emergency manager legislation through a lame duck session of the legislature not quite a month after the voters of Michigan had made it plain at the polls on Election Day 2012 in November that they did not want emergency management. For those who may have already forgotten, the majority of Michigan voters voted in November to repeal Public Act 4 by referendum, only to have it replaced in December by a near-identical PA 436 that was made repeal-proof so that the voters could never again raise their voices in meaningful dissent. At least not when it came to emergency management.
Since that time, courtesy of the Flint lead-poisoned water disaster and the disaster of the Detroit Public Schools, the shortfalls of emergency management have been laid bare for all to see.
In case you hadn’t already guessed, this is not what democracy looks like.

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