I think we all can agree that the 2018 midterm elections are critical. This means that our votes matter more now than ever. But what happens when you’ve registered and are ready to participate in this good ol’ democracy but can’t?
Let’s talk about voter suppression.
Voter suppression is simple—it’s a set of tactics used to block voters from exercising their right to vote. And there’s a long, long history of voter suppression in the United States.
Black men were allowed to vote after the Civil War thanks to the 15th Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. Because of Jim Crow laws, black folks were forced to take literacy tests and pay poll taxes, among other barriers to voting.
A famous act of political violence is often used to illustrate the utter collapse of civic norms in the run-up to the Civil War: the caning of Charles Sumner by his fellow congressman, Preston Brooks of South Carolina, on the floor of the Senate.
It turns out, though, that this was just one of dozens of incidents of violence in Congress in the period between 1930 and the first shots fired at Fort Sumter, ranging from physical menacing to threats to brawls to duels—including one that killed an elected representative. This phenomenon, which has been little-understood thanks in no small part to the euphemism-laden legislative records of the era, has been rediscovered in The Field of Blood, a fascinating and upsettingly timely new book by Joanne B. Freeman. A professor of history at Yale, one of the world’s leading experts on Alexander Hamilton, and co-host of the podcast Backstory, she’s studied political violence for decades.
Federal inspectors conducted an unannounced visit of an immigration detention center in southern California and found “serious violations” throughout the facility, where guards improperly placed adult inmates in disciplinary segregation and ignored more than a dozen “nooses” fashioned out of bedsheets.
The report, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, also showed that medical staff at the Adelanto, Calif., facility disregarded federal regulations governing the treatment of inmates by doing only cursory checks of inmates and making them wait months, sometimes years, to receive basic dental care, leading to tooth loss and “unnecessary extractions.”
“I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity,” Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh said on Monday in what has now been his second statement denying sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford.
Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee but senators remain divided over whether to postpone voting on Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee or let Thursday’s vote carry on as scheduled. Trump himself seems committed to Kavanaugh’s nomination. When asked on Monday if Kavanaugh offered to resign, Trump responded: “What a ridiculous question.”
A California professor and President Donald Trump’s pick to become the next Supreme Court justice will appear before senators to tell conflicting stories about a high school party 36 years ago.
The accuser and the accused, in the glare of the spotlight, with a lifetime seat to the most powerful court in the US at stake.
While the drama will be intensely personal, as she alleges he assaulted her and he strongly rejects the accusation, this is more than a clash of two individuals and their recollection of past events.
It also represents the confluence of two movements – one decades in the making, the other a recent, powerful groundswell.
In a bizarre-sounding story, a police sergeant in London was cleared of misconduct this week for ordering his officers to strip search a philosophy lecturer who was detained after reportedly trying to give a 15-year-old a legal contact during a search. There’s a lot here, so bear with me.
The Guardian reports that Konstancja Duff, a lecturer at Nottingham University, was arrested in May 2013 during a stop-and-search sweep at an East London estate. Duff had reportedly been trying to hand a 15-year-old a card with legal services contacts and advice, when she was arrested by Metropolitan police. The card was given to her by a police watchdog organization, and at a recent Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) panel, Duff testified that she’d been trying to help the teen.
Aunty Lee’s memory is a bit cloudy regarding whether the first time she cast her ballot was in an election for local politicians or a presidential race, but one thing she knows for sure is her pastor at the time inspired her to exercise her constitutional rights and fulfill her civic duties. He said, “When it’s time to vote, make sure you vote. When it’s time to do grand jury, make sure you go.”
At age 20, Aunty Lee understood the magnitude of her pastor’s advice, given the disenfranchisement of Black folks that she witnessed growing up in Millers Ferry — including poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright violence and intimidation that prevented Black people from voting. To be a Black citizen in America but denied full citizenship rights epitomizes the hypocrisy of American democracy. This is a sad truth that I repeat like a blues refrain to my students.
While we celebrate that a record number of women are running for office, it’s worth considering the shit they put up with just to be heard. A group of current and former candidates talked to the New York Times about the harassment they’ve dealt with while campaigning. Their stories are depressing and sometimes frightening, the harassment predictable.
From Mya Whitaker, a Democrat running for City Council in Oakland, California:
“Being a black woman and existing, in some cases, is enough to piss people off.”
And Kim Weaver, an Iowa Democrat who dropped out of a race against white supremacist Rep. Steve King in 2017 in part because of the threats against her and her family:
Six LGBT activists have found a way to fly the Pride flag in Russia – by wearing football shirts in the rainbow colours.
The country has had a law banning the spreading of “gay propaganda” among under-18s since 2013.
The Pride flag is a symbol celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, but displaying it in Russia can get you arrested.
Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration will announce its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, citing “hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel.”
According to their sources, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, will announce the United States’ departure Tuesday at 5 p.m. While the United States has long threatened to leave this arm of the United Nations, its final straw may have been the council dunking on the Trump administration’s wildly inhumane child separation policy. Or this is, once again, the administration acting impulsively on its own tempers and whims. Or just John Bolton fulfilling a decade-long dream. Who the fuck knows.