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We get caught up around here, often necessarily, in all kinds of issues.  I write today regarding a crucial one, that, if we don't respond, could trump all the others this year.  

Make no mistake--the Republicans have no interest whatsoever in ensuring that the vote is available to all Americans.  In fact, tho they try to keep it on the down-low, they are mounting an aggressive and comprehensive campaign nationwide to severely LIMIT and RESTRICT and BLOCK the right to vote for millions of Americans they consider unlikely to vote their way.  

Much more on the jump--

We have bitched here about various impediments to voting rights--purged voter rolls in Florida, insufficient polling facilities in Cleveland and St. Louis, among others, often aimed at African-American voters, among the most reliable Democrats there are.  When the Repugs proposed scaling back the hallmark Voting Rights Act and its crucial protections, we marched and squawked, and they made different noises.  

I submit that we may have been a bit naive and short-sighted regarding this critical issue.  I believe that their strategy to limit, block, and restrict voting rights in this country is much more comprehensive and insidious than we think, and that we are currently behind the curve.  

Please stay with me for a bit of background, then to some hopeful proposals...  

Throwing up obstacles to Black voting in this country is as old as Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.  Securing those rights, fundamental for a democracy, has always been a struggle.  With the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we thought that protection of this right had been enshrined in law.  

But these Repugs are nothing if not tenacious.  Rehnquist, in fact, first made his bones by challenging the voting rights of African-Americans in South Phoenix.  Reagan began his Presidential Campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi.  And Nixon was proud of his Southern Strategy.  

But the modern Repugs have, in their ingenuity, devised new techniques.  While frantically screaming of the horrors of supposed "VOTER FRAUD!!!", they have enacted new requirements for registration and identification, most recently in Missouri.  They have put out false information about candidates, polling places, and voting dates.  They have made access to polling places in 'certain areas' difficult, and, you can safely bet, Turdblossom & Co. have more tricks up their despicable sleeves.  

Now, the Opportunity--I believe we have a golden chance to both take the public high road in protecting citizens' right to vote and simultaneously strengthen our critical coalitions with African-Americans and Latinos, and vastly improve our ability to communicate with the public and potential voters.  

The Voting Rights Act is up for renewal.  If there was ever a common cause and an opportunity to draw closer to our critical allies in the Progressive Movement--Blacks and Latinos--this is it!!!  It is said we take Blacks, especially, for granted.  Well, u gotta admit, haven't seen a lot of concern here on this issue thus far.  Lots of talking about Diebold, precious little on ongoing coalition and voter outreach.  

At the same time, we've been tremendously frustrated by our limited access to public media in this country--KO, Air America, and then what???  Corporate media, as we're painfully aware, has reliably done the bidding of this bunch.  But wait--there is a strong and growing network of Black and Spanish radio stations with loyal audiences throughout this country.  Sure, our candidates buy a few spots near election time, but what I propose is a far more profound collaboration.  We should, IMHO, be close to these influential small businesses, respond to their legitimate concerns, and share information with them on a wide range of issues throughout the year.  It must be a two-way communication, a process someone like Tavis Smiley, I'm sure, would be thrilled to facilitate.  Each side would gain through access, in a meaningful way, to the other.  
The Repugs would lose due to our greater capabilities, jointly, in both intelligence-gathering and rapid response.  

As for Spanish stations, their audience is a major voter battleground.  Their listenership and business clout are both burgeoning, and u need only look to the turnout for the marchas to gauge their potential for mobilization.  

Howard Dean has good bona fides in both the Black and Latino communities.  I know--I was at a Latinos for Dean meeting with him, and he was impressive in his sensitivity and his understanding.  His commitment to civil rights goes back to his college days.  

Make no mistake--the Repugs will do things we can't even imagine in an effort to suppress voter turnout among citizens sympathetic to the Progressive Cause.  If we don't begin to reach out--right now--in imaginative ways to strengthen our hand--and our reach--we will be sitting here again next year bitching about how he got Bushwhacked...or Rovewinked.  

Let's form a grand coalition, go on the offense, and STAND UP for the right of people to express their will at the ballot box in this country!!!  As a Wise Man once said, "Surely we must hang together...or we will all hang separately"!!!

Vamonos, pues!!!  Let's do this!!!

Originally posted to serrano on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 10:35 AM PDT.

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