Justice Dept: Black voters need "Democratic Party" listed

The small town of Kinston, NC, population 23,000, voted to do away with partisan elections, meaning party affiliation would be meaningless in local contests. To comply with the Voting Rights Act, they first had to get the approval of the Justice Department, which in an opinion devoid of logic denied the request saying equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the explicit presence of a Democratic Party affiliation. I could not make this up if I tried (via the Washington Times):

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party. The Justice Department’s ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their “candidates of choice” – identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want.

The punchline is that Kinston is a one-party Democratic town anyway, one that overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama.

How much more demeaning and partisan could the Department of Justice become? In essence, they are saying that southern Democratic voters are so racist that only their blind partisanship will overwhelm their hatred to cause them to pull the lever for black candidates. Even more egregious is the notion that only Democratic candidates can ever be a candidate of choice for the black community, an opinion that seeks to paint an entire racial community into a corner that’s advantageous to one political party.

The opinion was handed down by the same Justice official, Loretta King, who dismissed the Black Panther case of voter intimidation in Philadelphia. Evidently Ms. King has more of a problem with the lack of a “D” by a candidate’s name than club-wielding thugs outside a polling station. My favorite criticism has to be from Abigail Thernstrom, member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, who had this to say:

“The Voting Rights Act is not supposed to be compensating for failure of voters to show up on Election Day,” she said. “The Voting Rights Act doesn’t guarantee an opportunity to elect a ‘candidate of choice.’ … My ‘candidate of choice’ loses all the time in an election.”

Sorry, but that’s just funny.

We should always be on the lookout for discrimination in voting laws and practices and ensure that all American citizens of all races have an opportunity to fairly cast a vote. This Justice decision, however, has nothing to do with protecting rights and everything to do with a purely partisan interest in protecting the ability of the Democratic Party to keep certain demographics within its sway – overriding the wishes of a small town to do away with party affiliation in the process.

It’s a remarkably partisan and racially polarizing decision from Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, and it’s a disappointing step backward in moving toward a color-blind and letter-blind society where people are judged not by the color of their skin or the letter by their names, but by the content of their characters.

Cross-posted at Wellsy’s World