anthony asadulla samad

Anthony Asadullah Samad

*The 2012 Elections will offer the electorate a vast difference in choices for President.

Watching the Republican candidates for President get scarier and scarier with their conservative and ultra-conservative predictions only show how desperate they are defeat President Obama.

The general election debates should be interesting. However, this election is not going to be won and lost in the debates. The 2013 Presidential election will be won and lost at the polls. You say, “Isn’t that where most elections are won and lost?” Certainly, a case could be made for that argument when voter turnout is the focus. However, this year, turnout might not necessarily be this issue at the polls. “Turn-away” will be the issues at the polls. Voter suppression strategies typically waged at poor, minority and immigrant voters has taken an evil turn. Termed “Block The Vote” by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, there is a renewed effort to disenfranchise historically alienated voters with a number of suppression and policy initiatives. “Block The Vote” efforts are now taking place in some 34 states. More than two-thirds of the nation’s states have felt the need to sure up their voting requirements, or add to their voting requirements since the 2008 Presidential elections. There is no need wasting any time to discern why. We know why. We can say it in two words; Barack Obama.

We elect one black President and now the whole damn voting system has to be revamped. Shssh!!! I mean…really??? But the Republicans don’t just leave anything to chance. They went and made corporations citizens so they can give more money than President Obama can print next time around, and the U.S. Supreme Court backed them on it. If you think they’re giving to Super PACs in the Republican primary now, wait until the general election. Obama said he wants to raise a billion dollars in 2012. The Republicans are going to give their candidate $2 billion…from less than a hundred people. This is going to be the wildest shootout since the Presidential election of 1876, the last time “the Negro Dilemma” was the national referendum. The election ended in a virtual tie and the Hayes-Tilden Compromise decided the Presidency. Hayes freed the South and segregation was the law within 20 years. Will it get to that in 2012?

It could. Why? Because some want the country back so badly, they will buy it back, steal it back or take it back, if they have to. They’ve bought before. They even stole one (or two) before. But it’s been awhile since they had to take one—but they’re prepared to take this one. Once they fix the voting apparatus—I meant fix, as in repair. Not fix as in highjack. Repair it by challenging everyone to prove their eligibility. Poll checking has made a comeback. And to take the election, they have to do it in plain sight, according to the rules. Like always in American history who equality gets close, the rules change.

See, the masses still have to be dealt with, and the conservative movement doesn’t trust that everyone out there is eligible to vote. They don’t think blacks are eligible to vote, which is why felon disenfranchisement is high on the voter suppression agenda. They don’t think Latinos are eligible to vote, which is why voter identification legislation is high on the voter suppression agenda. Not photo IDs either…birth certificates. They think seniors won’t come to the polls in person, which is why early voting laws are being challenged. And they don’t want young people to catch “Obama fever” again and show up at the polls in massive numbers, which is why same day voting laws are being challenged. Also absentee ballot voting is being challenged in some states. The traditional “Rock The Vote” to get newly eligible 18 year old first time voters registered is being met with efforts to make voting more difficult and more complicated. Is this 2012 or 1962? The tactics were the same 50 years ago—and so were many of the faces.

It’s intimidation. Prove who you are, or we’re going to block you from voting.

This time around, everybody will have to prove that they are an American…even the President (though he’s proven it twice already). Voter intimidation will be directed at the populations least likely to show up if they feel they’re going to be hassled; immigrants, old people, black people, anyone with prior convictions and young people who don’t know the law. If the Republicans can take this election, they will take this election. They will take it simply by doing what the conservative movement has always done. By taking away the vote. Go to www.naacpldf.com and get the report, Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, to see the hundreds of ways nearly three dozen states have sought to suppress the vote turnout in this year’s election. States are acting like the civil rights era never existed.

It’s scary…only because there really isn’t enough attention being paid to this effort to turn back the clock. We can’t let it tip up on us like we let the SuperPAC law change tip up on us. They don’t intend for this to be a fair fight, and we don’t intend for it to be anything other than a fair fight. We can’t let “Block The Vote” strategies rock our vote. If electing a black president makes em act like this, then we need to elect him again just to let them know that we can’t go backwards…not this time. Not no more.

Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st  Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.