Op-ed submission by Project 21
Benjamin Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP, heartily embraces the absurd assertion of the left that asking someone to simply prove their identity in order to participate in the sacred honor of casting a ballot is thinly-veiled voter suppression and an assault on civil rights.
At the NAACP’s recent annual convention, the 39-year-old Jealous likened the opposition to popular and democratically-enacted voter ID laws to the civil rights movement when he referenced “Selma and Montgomery times.”
Such rhetoric is nothing but divisive.
I’m sure Mr. Jealous attempted this analogy to create an emotional response about that momentous time in history. What he neglected to inform the assembly of the oldest civil rights organization in the nation was that voter ID combats voter fraud, which currently serves as the biggest hindrance to voting.
It’s time to rebuke the racial oratory meant to compel people into thinking that voter ID has a race-driven agenda. Efforts to prevent voter fraud are not meant to suppress minorities.
What must be rejected is the notion that minorities are too simple-minded or naïve to obtain a government-issued ID. Liberals and leftists claim to defend minorities, students, the elderly and the poor, but they are really just insulting people’s intelligence by saying that obtaining valid ID is beyond those people’s ability.
It’s odd that the left is adamant about a woman being responsible for decisions about her own body (at least when it comes to abortion), yet they are apparently willing to allow for an ignorance for the need for proper identification in our modern world.
Those who labored in the civil rights movement would likely be insulted by these attacks on commonsense protections. Voter ID is not designed to benefit a particular party or a candidate. It is for all Americans. It transcends ideology to want to protect the outcome of elections from being marred by miscreants.
But the issue of racism was unfortunately elevated to an even higher level when embattled Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the NAACP in July. During his speech, Holder compared voter ID to Jim Crow-era poll taxes:
Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.
Ironically, Holder’s office required members of the media who wished to cover his speech to first present two forms of photo ID.
The hypocritical stance of the left is amusing, yet saddening, to witness because it shows a continuing and genuine disconnect from reality.
Leftists are turning the need to protect voters against identity theft into a weapon in their larger class warfare strategy. They are willing to put the integrity of our electoral process at risk to excite and reinvigorate their political base. They continue to sing the known chorus of racial bigotry because they fear that minorities and seniors will start turning a deaf ear to their policies and that their influence among these voting groups will diminish as a result.
Opposition to voter ID safeguards seems to be all about power and dominion. In all of the bluster over people possibly not having proper ID on Election Day, it seems those worried souls have done little — or maybe even nothing — to work with the laws and get ID to those who lack it. At the same time, they would be working to include these people in the modern world instead of pushing baseless rhetoric that only divides Americans.
The NAACP, Attorney General Eric Holder and any others standing against voter ID laws put our election process and everything that’s been done to expand its access at risk. It’s not complicated. One can either be an ambassador for fairness and justice in voting, or be seen as tolerant of corruption for the sake of political power.
Demetrius Minor is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network and co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show “He Said, She Said” with Project 21 member Stacy Washington.