Tony Kendall

When it comes to keeping brothers and sisters of color down and in their place, no state this side of Mississippi has done a more despicable job than the Peach Tree state of Georgia.

In addition to instituting strict voter ID and registration laws, gerrymandering districts, reducing early voting times, polling places and the strategic allotting of voting machines, Georgia politicians a generation ago put another racist arrow in their suppression quiver — runoff elections.

More so than any of the other new Jim Crow methods of disenfranchising black and brown voters, using the runoff method as the model to elect people to statewide office has been the most effective way of keeping power in the hands of an ever-shrinking white majority.

According to historians, after courts ruled that the Jim Crow system used in Georgia during the first part of the 20th century — known as the county unit system, a version of a state electoral college that increased the influence of rural white voters and decreased that of black city voters — was ruled unconstitutional, segregationists had to come up with another way to disenfranchise the growing number of black voters.

To accomplish their goal, the segregationists decided that the runoff format would be an almost surefire way to make certain that a white person always won.

The way they saw the system working was if no candidate garnered 50 percent of the vote plus one, the top two candidates would face each other in a runoff for the statewide office.

If one of the two were to be black, they surmised that a majority of white voters would vote for the white candidate. And so far, they have been right.

Of the eight elections that have gone to the runoff stage since the format came into play, seven were won by the white Republican candidates.

The lone Democratic victory was short-lived, as that candidate, former Gov. Zell Miller, immediately switched parties before being sworn into office.

While some on the right now claim that race isn’t and wasn’t the main reason Georgia switched to this format, the state legislator who was the driving force behind it said otherwise.

That legislator, Denmark Groover, a segregationist, felt that he lost a plurality election due to a phenomenon he called the Negro voting bloc theory.

He believed that black voters in that election overwhelmingly voted for just one candidate while white voters split their votes amongst the crowded field, costing him the victory.

Years later, Groover said, “If you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced, I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”

From the Bottom where I see things, for Republicans in Georgia, it still is.

For years, I’ve kept a list of 156 members of the House and Senate who in October of 2002 voted not to give George W. Bush the authority to go to war against Iraq.

In these times of highly partisan politics, one would think that the vote back then was along party lines, but one would be wrong.

There was bipartisan opposition to granting Bush the power to preemptively invade another country that had not directly attacked us.

Among those voting to grant the president this power were several left-leaning and centrist politicians whom I admire to this day, and some whom I dislike.

Despite being adamantly against the invasion and all things Bush, I didn’t mind being in a political bed with some politicians that I had little use for otherwise. But it did feel strange.

After reading the op-ed piece in the Washington Post by the 10 former secretaries of defense, I’m back in bed with some politicians whom I have less than a little use for, especially two of them.

Here’s a portion of what they wrote, “As former secretaries of defense, we hold a common view of the solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department.

“Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party.

“American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy.

“With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics and economic depression. This year should be no exception …

“… They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.

“We call upon them, in the strongest terms, to do as so many generations of Americans have done before them.

“This final action is in keeping with the highest traditions and professionalism of the U.S. armed forces, and the history of democratic transition in our great country.”

Here are eight of the men who reminded those who still serve the country as members of the armed service of where their true loyalties lie —  Ashton Carter, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta and William Perry.

As you can see, a couple of the guys in the group served in the Trump administration, and you all know how I feel about all things Trumpian.

There’s no coming back from Trump world in my eyes, but their damage was limited to time served.

But the two guys I separated out of this group hold a special place of disdain in my political worldview because of what they did as members of Congress and while holding cabinet-level positions in several Republican administrations, including George W. Bush’s.

As members of his administration, they were among the chief proponents of invading Iraq, the Patriot Act, torturing suspected terrorists, curtailing civil and human rights at home, along with committing a few dozen other war crimes.

When not working in Washington, D.C., they were founding members of the neoconservative foreign policy think tank Project for the New American Century that advocated that it was America’s right as the preeminent nation on the planet to assert our principles of how things should operate in the world through military force, if necessary.

A drumroll and trumpet flare please for my two new political bedmates: First is Donald Rumsfeld who repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people about a multitude of things and in the process gave us this now-iconic quote, “There are known knowns, and known unknowns that we don’t know.”

Now for the other guy a man who by my way of thinking personifies the dastardliest evil qualities of Lord Voldemort and Darth Vader, all the while surviving more heart attacks than Fred Sanford — Dirty Dick Cheney.

My jaw dropped several feet when I learned that it was Cheney’s idea for these guys to put their names on this op-ed.

People, it matters not what your personal, political or religious views are; but when Cheney, the man who would waterboard a newborn baby if he saw it as a threat to the United States, is opposed to an action that he thinks will forever damage our constitutional republic, it has to be so wrong!

Because of what was going to happen Wednesday [after this column was submitted], when some 140 Republicans were to stand up and declare their opposition to the decision of the Electoral College to declare that Democrat Joe Biden won more than enough votes to become the next president of the United States, I’m making another list.

The people on this list, however, aren’t profiles in courage, like those 156 who voted against invading Iraq.

When they opened their mouths and attempted to invalidate the results of an election that didn’t go the way they wanted or thought it would, they violated the oath they took to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic —- they are seditionists and traitors.

At the top of my list are these neo-fascist, authoritarian, Trumpican senators, Ted Cruz, Texas; Josh Hawley, Missouri; Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee; Ron Johnson, Wisconsin; James Lankford,  Oklahoma; Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming; Tommy Tuberville, Alabama; Steve Daines, Montana; John Neely Kennedy, Louisiana; Bill Hagerty, Tennessee; Mike Braun, Indiana; Roger Marshall, Kansas; and newly minted loser from Georgia and Stepford wife, Kelly Loeffler.

For years, I’ve bandied around a quote I heard from black journalist DeWayne Wickham on voting. He said, “Black people riot in the streets; white people riot at the ballot box.”

Tuesday in Georgia, black people once again have shown us how to render that point moot in the places we can. Black voters matter!

 

Hi, Momma Lois.

 

TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at bottomwriter@yahoo.com.

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