Wednesday, September 10, 2008

REPUBLICAN DIRTY TRICKS IN THE RUSTBELT

The Republican Party was born of dirty tricks. It won the 2000 election on dirty tricks. And it may win again on dirty tricks. Breaking news: the Michigan and Ohio Republican parties are plotting to deprive foreclosed homeowners of their votes.

You heard me right: they are going to try to disenfranchise the very people who are the victims of the mortgage and home financing crisis. The GOP's target: voters in blue-collar Rustbelt places, including Macomb County (to the north and east of Detroit) and Genessee County, Michigan (home to Flint) and Franklin County, Ohio (metro Columbus). Foreclosure rates in these places are among the highest in the country. Altogether 62,000 homes have been foreclosed in Michigan this year, as of July.

The Michigan Messenger broke the story this morning. Read it all. “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses, [Macomb County] Republican party chairman James Carabelli told The Messenger in a telephone interview. "He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed." In Michigan, party officials can monitor polling places and challenge the eligibility of voters.

Victims of the home mortgage crisis in Michigan are disproportionately black: the state of Michigan estimates that altogether sixty percent of subprime loans in Michigan went to African Americans. Going after foreclosure victims is a thinly veiled effort to deprive blacks of their votes to lessen Barack Obama's chances of victory.

I'm afraid this is not the first or the last we'll hear of such shenanigans. Republicans are looking to win the election by any means necessary. Mass disenfranchisement of economically-insecure, mostly minority voters is a great start.

A friend of mine who is a longtime civil rights activist calls this "a story of truly insidious political tactics." He is too kind. So let's call the Republican tactics for what they are: political racism.