Real Progress Is Not What Progressives Have in Mind

For people who call themselves “progressive,” leftists are astonishingly hostile to progress. 

Seemingly mired in 1965, congressional Democrats bulldozed through the U.S. House of Representatives in a special session last month a so-called voting rights bill, H.R. 4, with no Republican support. Named after the late U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), Democrats have lavished praise upon themselves for a bill they claim would address what they call “racial discrimination in voting.” According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill would “give the federal government new power over states’ voting procedures, a change Democrats say is needed to protect the political power of minority voters.” 

Michael Waldman, president of the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, pronounced H.R. 4 a “much-needed voting rights bill,” adding, “The facts show that racial discrimination in voting has followed us into the 21st century. Recently it is getting worse, not better. The gap between white voters’ turnout rates and nonwhite voters’ rates has been widening nationwide, especially in states once covered by a strong Voting Rights Act.” 

What facts are those? 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported in April that the 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of any election in the 21st century. The census report shows that nationwide, 74.2 percent of eligible white citizens and 69 percent of black citizens are registered to vote. Of those registered, the 2020 turnout was 71 percent for whites with 63 percent turnout for black voters. 

According to Catalist, a Democratic data management company: 

Voters in the 2020 elections represented the most diverse electorate in history: 

  • Black voter turnout increased by 14% just between 2016 and 2020
  • Hispanic voter turnout increased by 31% just between 2016 and 2020

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in its 2015 report, “Fifty Years of the Voting Rights Act,” found, “Since 1965, the black/white racial gap in voter turnout has decreased dramatically in presidential elections. Turnout among black Southerners exceeded that of their white counterparts in four of the twelve presidential elections since 1965, and nationwide black turnout clearly exceeded white turnout in presidential elections in 2012 and perhaps in 2008.” 

As a basis of comparison: the voter turnout in Southern states in 1960 was 75 percent white and 25 percent black; by 2012, Southern states voter turnout was 64 percent white and 78 percent black.

If you read and listen to the white liberal media, you will not see or hear any of these facts.

A “special report” by NBC 5 in Dallas-Ft. Worth in October claimed “Today, voters in Mississippi face a series of government-created barriers that make it . . . far and away the most difficult state in which to vote.”

In reality, census data show that white voter turnout in Mississippi last year was 68.5 percent while the black voter turnout was 72.4 percent. Poor Mississippi gets no credit from progressives for its progress in black voting participation.

And what about those “restrictions” described by the NBC report? Laws governing absentee voting, no early voting, no online registration, absentee ballots that must be witnessed by notaries and voter ID laws, which the report claims “overwhelmingly affect the poor and minorities, since they are less likely to have state-approved identification.”  

The allegation that voter identification requirements are “racist” is a myth that Democrats repeat over and over, hoping to persuade the American people of their claim. But it isn’t working. Americans of every demographic group favor voter ID, including a clear majority of African Americans, 58 percent of whom support presenting an ID to secure their vote. 

The most powerful statement about voter ID being used as a political weapon rather than being rooted in fact came from North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (R-N.C.) in his testimony this year before the House Judiciary Committee. The first black lieutenant governor in state history, Robinson spoke eloquently of the sordid past endured by black Americans, then traced the accomplishments that blacks have achieved over time, describing American black history as one that adds up “to an incredible story of victory.” 

“Today, we hear . . . that black voices are being silenced . . . Black voices [are] being kept out,” Robinson said

How? By bullets? By bombs? By nooses? No. By requiring a free ID to secure the vote. Let me say that again: By requiring a free ID to secure the votes. How absolutely preposterous! Am I to believe that black Americans who have overcome the atrocities of slavery, who were victorious in the civil rights movement, and now sit in the highest levels of this government, cannot figure out how to get a free ID to secure their votes, that they need to be coddled by politicians, because they don’t think we can figure out how to make our voices heard? Are you kidding me? The notion that black people must be protected from a free ID in order to secure their votes, is not just insane, it is insulting . . . This doesn’t have anything to do with justice. It has everything to do with power. . . .

H.R. 4 would outlaw the use of voter ID. But Robinson is right. These “voting rights bills” flying through the Democratic House, and teetering in the divided U.S. Senate, have everything to do with power.

H.R. 4 is not a voting rights bill, necessary to remedy some dreadful wrong in America where minorities are denied the right to vote. The facts speak for themselves and the numbers do not add up to black voter suppression in America today. 

There has been great progress in minority voting since 1965. Democrats and their left-wing voting industry allies reject that reality because they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their voting rights industry which rests on their minority vote suppression narrative.

H.R. 4 is a brazen use of political force to protect Democratic House seats in the coming congressional redistricting. That provision hasn’t been mentioned in any of the tweets, press conferences, or statements by the Democrats or in the highly partisan media coverage of the bill. Not a single Democrat has coughed up the fact that H.R. 4 would create new statutory protection of Democratic House seats where only a minority of the district’s residents are racial minorities. 

The reason Democrats are panicked about congressional redistricting is because their nationwide plans to retake state legislatures in the November 2020 election utterly flopped. Former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder raised millions of dollars in his multi-year program to elect Democratic state legislatures in time for the congressional redistricting following the 2020 Census. Despite Holder’s efforts, later joined by former President Obama himself to raise funds for their project, not one legislative chamber in America was flipped to the Democrats last year and, in fact, two chambers were added to the GOP column. 

Since Plan A, putting the map drawing in the hands of Democratic state legislatures, didn’t work, the Democrats went to Plan B: H.R. 1 that would have required all congressional districts to be drawn by “independent commissions.” That also failed. 

Now, they’ve gone to Plan C: legislating a heretofore rejected legal argument that if voters in a district vote for the same political party (read: Democrats), such districts should be afforded legal protections as though they are the equivalent of minority districts, even if the district doesn’t have a majority of minority voters.  

Remember, the Voting Rights Act and subsequent court decisions about redistricting all are focused on ensuring representation by minorities, not Democrats. What the Left has done is morphed their legal arguments about minority representation into a theory that having Democrats in office is as important, if not more important, than having minorities holding the offices.  No court ever has agreed to that legal theory—but the Democrats have now incorporated their partisan theory into H.R. 4. Plan C demonstrates that the Democrats’ “concern” about minority voting and representation is really about preserving and expanding their own power. 

The Democrats’ claims about suppression of minority voters is a ruse to cover their real intention of preventing Republicans from being able to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ever.

Last month marked the 58th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its “temporary” preclearance of voting laws in the South served its purpose, as the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder

We should recognize, as Mark Robinson suggested, that America has come a very long way since 1965, that Jim Crow is no more, that black voter participation is basically on a par with other voter groups, and that it all adds up to actual progress.

Real progressives would applaud that fact. But only if they really cared about progress.

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About Cleta Mitchell

Cleta Mitchell is an election attorney and the senior legal fellow for election integrity at the Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images