Dear Gen. Powell: Here’s what REAL #NCGA / #NCPOL southern vote suppression looks like

“Republican” Colin Powell, the guy who enthusiastically supported and voted for President Obama twice, had some choice words today for North Carolina Republicans regarding the recent voter ID bill that was passed by the NC General Assembly (NCGA) and signed into law by GOP Governor Pat McCrory:

RALEIGH — With Gov. Pat McCrory in the audience, former Secretary of State Colin Powell took aim at North Carolina’s new voting law Thursday, saying it hurts the Republican Party, punishes minority voters and makes it more difficult for everyone to vote.

“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” said Powell, a Republican, at the CEO Forum in Raleigh.

“It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.”

The retired general served as the keynote speaker at the event and made his remarks moments after McCrory left the stage. His comments represent the most high-profile criticism of the Republican-crafted law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, cuts early voting days and makes it harder for students to vote.

In one comment, he seemed to rebuke McCrory for suggesting that voter fraud likely exists but is hard to detect. The governor had compared it to insider trading.”You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” Powell said. “How can it be widespread and undetected?” [Note from ST: Some have said that about the WMD justification used by Powell at the UN pre-Iraq War, but I digress]

Powell, who served under President George W. Bush, also said the new law sends the wrong message to minority voters. “What it really says to the minority voters is … ‘We really are sort-of punishing you,’” he said.

Sigh. Sadly, as with most typical liberal Republicans, Powell’s perspective is way off.  Plus, he ignores decades of reprehensible NC Democrat party history when it comes to voting rights.  To look at what real minority voter punishment looks like, one only has to turn to the Old South days where Democrat-enacted Jim Crow laws ruled the landscape (bolded emphasis added by me):

When the 14th Amendment was passed in 1866, it guaranteed citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction. Then, in 1869, the 15th Amendment prohibited government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. One effect of these amendments was to enfranchise African American Men.[23]

Furthermore, the year 1869 marked the beginning of “Black Codes,” or state laws that restricted the freedoms of African Americans. Among those freedoms restricted was the freedom to exercise the right to vote. These restrictions were enforced by literacy tests, poll taxes, hiding the locations of the polls, economic pressures, and threats of physical violence.[23]

The Supreme Court of North Carolina upheld the ability of free African Americans to vote before they were disfranchised by decision of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835. At the same time, convention delegates relaxed religious and property qualifications for whites.[24] Alabama entered the union in 1819 with universal white suffrage provided for in its constitution. Its actions in the late 19th century disfranchised poor whites as well as blacks.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, one of three adopted in response to the American Civil War, prevented any state from denying the right to vote to any citizen on account of his race. This was primarily related to protecting the franchise of freedmen, but it also applied to non-white minorities such as Mexican Americans in Texas. The state governments under Reconstruction adopted new state constitutions or amendments designed to protect the ability of freedmen to vote. The resistance to black suffrage after the war regularly erupted into violence as groups tried to protect their power. Particularly in the South, in the aftermath of the Civil War, whites started working to limit the ability of freedmen to vote. In the 1860s, secret vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) used violence and intimidation to keep freedmen in a controlled role and reestablish white supremacy. Nonetheless, black freedmen registered and voted in high numbers, and many were elected to local offices through the 1880s.

In the mid-1870s, there was a rise in more powerful paramilitary groups, such as the White League, originating in Louisiana in 1874 after a disputed election; and the Red Shirts, originating in Mississippi in 1875 and growing in North and South Carolina; as well as other “White Line” rifle clubs. They operated openly, were more organized than the KKK, and directed their efforts at political goals: to disrupt Republican organizing, turn Republicans out of office, and intimidate or kill blacks to suppress black voting. They worked as “the military arm of the Democratic Party.”[25] For instance, estimates were that 150 blacks were killed in North Carolina before the 1876 elections. Economic tactics such as eviction from rental housing or termination of employment were also used to suppress the black vote. White Democrats regained power in the South by the late 1870s. Thereafter, the legislators worked to create more complicated voter registration or election requirements, which more severely reduced black voting.


From 1890 to 1908, ten of the eleven former Confederate states completed political suppression by ratifying new constitutions or amendments which incorporated provisions to disfranchise blacks and poor whites. These included such methods as a poll tax, record keeping, timing of registration in relation to elections, felony disenfranchisement focusing on crimes thought to be committed by African Americans,[27] complex residency requirements, and a literacy test. Focusing on both blacks and poor whites ensured that there would be no coalition between them as had arisen in the elections of 1894, when Populist-Republican tickets wrested power away from Democrats. Prospective voters had to prove the ability to read and write the English language to white voter registrars, who in practice used subjective requirements. […]

There are no literacy tests in NC today, Mr. Powell, nor are there poll taxes, nor are there racist Democrats** violently suppressing the black vote like it was in the old days when they had control of the state legislature and the Governor’s office.  Voter suppression in this state will ALWAYS be the NC Democrat party’s legacy, NOT the state GOP’s.  If asking for someone to present a valid photo ID to confirm their identity is “punishing” voters, then some 30+ states are “punishing” voters, including the ultra blue liberal state of New York – YOUR home state. Do you feel “suppressed” when you have to show your ID at the polls?  I respectfully request that going forward, when you visit this state in the future, please do some simple basic research and learn the facts not only about its history when it comes to voter suppression (which was committed by the party you are now unoffically a part of) but also when it comes to understanding the new laws enacted by North Carolina Republicans to ensure the integrity of the vote – laws that ultimately only ask you to do ONE utterly harmless thing:  Prove you are who you say you are.

**As to those who say that the Democrat party of today is not the same party it used to be, you couldn’t be more wrong. They’ve just changed from being advocates of one type of slavery to another – the modern one being enslavement to big government.  

Colin Powell
If you need a history lesson on North Carolina voting rights, raise your hand!

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