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Dear People of Color,
We of the Democratic Party would like to thank you for your support these past several decades. Your continuing loyalty to us is extraordinarily generous and all the more so because, let’s face it, we’ve certainly never earned your trust, loyalty, or gratitude.
We’re the party that invented the Ku Klux Klan, after all. We led the opposition to the Civil Rights Act. We tried to keep segregation alive in the South well into the Apollo program. We fought hard — literally fought a war — to keep slavery alive in the United States, only to be defeated by the first Republican president. Given all that, it would have been understandable if you had turned your back on us and supported our opponents. We appreciate that you didn’t.
We’d like to say that we rewarded your loyalty by making your lives better, but that unfortunately isn’t the case. The cities we have run for decades as political monopolies are crime- and poverty-ridden traps that have locked generations of you in miserable schools and deteriorating public services. Under our stewardship, literacy and basic skills have declined, incarceration has soared, and your children are subjected to random acts of violence and brutality at the hands of street gangs.
Yes, things got better for people of color recently, with real incomes rising and unemployment falling. But those were the Trump years, and they’re thankfully behind us. We’re back to business as usual now.
But not for very much longer, and that’s why we’re reaching out to you now. We need your help just one more time. We need to make up a little story about you in order to flog our latest legislative scheme. We have to tell people that you’re too dumb to get a driver’s license, too incompetent to use a computer, too illiterate to understand the first thing about getting to a polling place and casting a legitimate ballot. We need to portray you as the hapless victim one more time, despite the clear evidence to the contrary. Yes, you need an ID to take a flight or buy a gun or open a bank account or buy Sudafed at the drugstore. But we have to pretend that you just can’t get it together and show an ID when you go to vote — and that any effort to require people to do that is just terribly unfair to people like you.
No, it isn’t very believable. It sure isn’t very respectful. Obviously, you aren’t less able to do these things than other people, and it’s kind of insulting of us to pretend you’re somehow too lame to pull it off. But we’re going to try it one more time. And here’s the thing: if it works, we won’t need to use you like this anymore. If it works, and if we federalize the voting process (despite the Constitution pretty clearly saying we can’t), then we won’t need you anymore. We won’t need your votes, because we’ll own the voting process.
Since we won’t need you anymore, we won’t have to pretend that we’re on your side, that the policies we implement that have hurt you so much are actually good for you. We can start treating you just like we treat everyone else, instead of casting you as eternal victims in need of our generous and high-minded assistance. Wouldn’t you like that, to be treated with a bit of respect, treated as real people, instead of something just a little bit less than that? Sure you would. And, who knows: When we don’t need you anymore, we might actually start treating you that way.
Or not. But anyway, go along with us one more time. Pretend you really think you’re prevented from voting by the same basic rules that you and everyone else have to follow every day, in practically every other aspect of life. Help us gut the electoral system. Then, just maybe, you’ll finally be free of us.
Or not.Published in