In case people haven't noticed the past few days, Doonesbury has been running strips featuring the big comeback of Jim Crow. While the mainstream media has largely ignored the Republican drive to keep people from voting, or reported it using the GOP meme about preventing 'voter fraud', Garry Trudeau has been explicit about exactly what's going on.
Starting on Monday July 23, Trudeau has embarked on a tour of the U.S. on a state by state basis showing just how outrageous GOP efforts are. Start with Alabama, move on to Pennsylvania, back down to Florida, and off to the Great State of Maine today. Trudeau makes clear it's not just about black people any more - it's about suppressing the vote of anyone likely to vote Democratic. Where numbers are available over just how many people who should be able to vote will be blocked, and just how many cases of actual fraud have been found, he includes that too.
That Democrats have been letting this go largely unchallenged as the GOP pushes its voter fraud narrative is infuriating. The reluctance of the media to call out the Republican party embrace of de facto racism is troubling - and part of a larger failure. The evidence is there, including the Murdoch press. Paul Waldman at American Prospect marvels at how intense the hatred has become. (h/t to Arios) Romney has been deliberately playing to his base on race issues - yet somehow keeps getting a pass on it. (And in an update, Political Animal analyzes just how the Romney campaign is using race in ways that feed old stereotypes.)
The GOP has been working this up for a long time, with a two pronged attack. They're not only working to make it more difficult to vote, they're working to make it harder to register new voters. That was the reason for their take-down of ACORN; the contrived scandal with fake videos was just cover for their real agenda - and the press was largely compliant in letting that go unchallenged. A cynical person could believe that might have something to do with avoiding pissing off a significant fraction of their audience; a majority of Republicans believe ACORN stole the the 2008 election.
Paradoxically, having a man labeled as black in the White House seems to have crippled the Democratic response. President Obama has had to largely ignore the blatant racism coming from the right lest he be accused of playing the race card. His election was supposed to prove that America had moved beyond its racist past - to say otherwise is to risk making the "America can do no wrong" crowd go on a rampage and feed the "Obama hates America" narrative.
It's of a piece with Rove's tactic of turning an opponents strengths into weaknesses. Democrats used to be known for using the power of government for all to make America a better, stronger nation - now they are loathe to do anything that might provoke calls of being in favor of the evil "Big Government." The phrase is stereotype threat: the Republican propaganda machine has managed to associate so many negatives with traditional Democratic hallmarks, Democrats have become afraid to invoke them. They can't even talk about them any more.
Which is why we need to thank Garry Trudeau all the more for showing in plain terms what is actually happening out there. It's a sad commentary that the most trenchant political analysis in print media turns up in the comics section these days, just as the most effective political reporting on television comes from so-called comedy shows.
UPDATE: The latest Doonesbury today 7-28-12. The web page at Slate has a quote worth passing on:
"It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter in the polls."UPDATE: Charles Blow is a must-read today: Where's the Outrage? The conclusion:
—from a Brennan Center of Justice report
Republicans are leveraging the deep pockets of anti-Obama billionaires and sinister voter suppression tactics that harken back to Jim Crow to wrest power from the hands of docile Democrats.
There is little likely to be done about the Big Money before the election, and, although some of the voter suppression laws are being challenged in court, the outcome of those cases is uncertain.
These elements are not within voters’ control, but two things are: energy and alertness.
If Democrats don’t wake up soon, this election might not just be won or lost, it could be bought or stolen.