Since the Civil War, voter suppression in America has had a unique cast. The Civil War brought two great innovations to the United States that would mix together to shape our politics from 1865 onward: First, the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln created our first national system of taxation, including the income tax. For the first time in our history, having a say in society meant having a say in how other people’s money was spent.
What is particularly sad to see in this country is how some citizens have through history worked diligently to deprive themselves the joy and wealth of Black talent, intelligence, courage, and endurance -- all gifts which enrich the quality of life for everyone. What horrible ignorance is it that creates such unforgivable waste?
The irony of the redistribution of wealth is that the unpaid labor of the enslaved built the white wealth. This was repeated when Reagan used the welfare queen example of fraud by an individual as an excuse to cut taxes for businesses, break unions and raid pension funds. IMHO, GOP manifest destiny that the powerful accumulate wealth by corruption and inequality. Meritocracy built a powerful Federal Government. Reagan used an example of wealth fraud to paint all beneficiaries as unworthy.
1871 South Carolina Taxpayers’ Convention. 1890 "Why the Solid South?" 1976, Ronald Reagan's "Welfare Queen." 2020 Trump's "Stop the Steal." 2021 Republican state legislatures' “election integrity."
Racist words fueled murderous ideology that caused untold suffering and terror.
When does rhetoric become disinformation? When does disinformation become an outright lie?
It’s early in the day so I have been able to read the comments right through to the end (any later and I would have been here all day). What a remarkable group this is - so knowledgeable and so infinitely courteous. Watched from afar I despair about the way the USA is going. But like others I have growing admiration for the way Biden is grappling with the issues. Before the election I worried that the Democrats had not put up someone worth voting for (paraphrasing the tail end of Naked Gun 2 ½) but I now realise that they did! By the way efforts must be made to disabuse the public that the Democrats are “socialist” or “communist”. Here in the U.K. a Biden government would be considered more right wing than our Conservative government.
Again, a succinct accurate historical thumbnail that I was never taught in school. Thank you.
I recommend the book FOUR HUNDRED SOULS, edited by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. It is a collection of 80 essays written in 2019 (the 400th year of slavery). They were written by 80 contemporary Black writers, historians, journalists, theologians and a plethora of other specialists as well as various men, women, younger, older, and all persuasions. Each essay chronicles a five-year period of the history of slavery beginning in 1619 through 2019. It is a treasure of a book. The essays are deliberately kept to only a few hundred words. It is a book you read, put down and think about what you have read, and come back later to read a few more essays. Highly recommend.
As America's Time Of Troubles lengthens since Sept 11, 2001, scholars and journalists have resorted to comparisons to better understand the moment and our historical trajectory.
One way is to compare states across wide spaces and times, resulting in at least two books and various essays asking, Are We Rome? (The partial consensus is No, not fully or not yet.) Another is broad in space but more limited in time, e.g. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Kennedy evinces complex and contingent reasons explaining their various fates from 1500-2000 (though published in 1988).
Dr Richardson's approach differs in comparing, or more precisely contrasting, the same American nation in two periods of its history. Both spatial and temporal scope is still more restricted, and in this case may be more helpful. Indeed, it isn't so much a contrast between parallel developments, but more an argument that recognizes continuity within one nation over parts of its own relatively shorter history.
What continues, what endures, unfortunately, is some of the worst traits in American history. Emancipation and Reconstruction succeeded by reunion and brutal reaction; but then later the Civil Rights era, the Second Reconstruction. And now, since we lost George Floyd last Memorial Day, a Third Reconstruction , this time global, is upon us. We should expect another wave of demonstrations accompanying that sad anniversary, but this time, in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings, perhaps in closer alliance with AAPI people facing their common challenges.
Hopefully Dr Richardson will soon say more about how America also manages to achieve progress in the face of such historically intense opposition. I'm almost convinced by now that some form of the Confederacy will always be with us. But I'm definitely convinced that ultimately its historic role is always to be vanquished by the Better Angels of our Nature.
There is an argument to be made that the current Senate bears no resemblance to the one in which President Biden admirably served. It is broken, and was broken by one man: Mitch McConnell, who dedicated his last 12 years blocking anything Democrats put forward and promoting anything Trump espoused.
It is time for the Democrats to set the record straight, pass some logical and useful legislation, and if the Republicans don’t agree, let’s vote them the HELL out of office in two years. The House, too. If we want our legislators to power up, we’ve got to do the same thing.
I won’t take a reading of today’s post and the comments simply because I have a KEEN interest in the progressive agenda President Biden is attempting to forward. Such as a multi-trillion dollar investment in a social democracy here in the US. THAT is far bigger news, imho .....
And this focus on a Democracy Capitalism, which contains voting rights and an economic platform to insure "liberty and justice for all” could be so exciting and transformational - if dems get behind the effort and push, hard - a bit like, perhaps, giving birth, to a new brighter future, for all Americans. But firstly, we must recognize this perhaps greatest progressive initiative in America’s history! We can’t sleep through this!
Wonderfully written, and now I’m adding another volume (Yours, Dr. Richardson) to Mount Bookpile 📚
So happy to no longer live in the South. It was eye opening with regard to racism. The Klan was alive and well where I lived. My father in-law at the time fully supported them along with some but not all in my family. It reminded me of my grandmother talking about how we had soldiers fighting on both sides of the Civil War.
I so appreciate your letters for opening my eyes to a history of this country which was never taught when I went to school, thank you!
Proud and disappointed Georgian. Bryan Kemp cheated his way in. Stacy Abrams was not deterred and led Georgia to help Biden and elect TWO Democratic Senators. Now our Legislators supported by Kemp are pushing us back in time. I am exhausted by the haters and their victories over good and fair. How can we finally end this inequity and move forward as a free nation. There are So many things we need to take care of.
We're like a car traversing a muddy, rutted road. It gets stuck, tires spinning in place, sinking deeper. Then the driver digs out, and the car lurches forward and makes progress, only to get stuck again. More and more people learn of his plight and help. They share his frustration. They detest the road and those in power who refuse to pave it. The driver thinks he's finally getting somewhere, albeit slowly, despite all the fits and starts. Then he discovers he's driving in loops that overlap, never taking him nearly far enough from where he began.
Welcome to America. Will it ever shed his racist past?
A great summary of yet another overlooked and sad part of this country's history. What's happening now in Georgia is indeed Jim Crow 2.0. I would submit that if the new Georgia voting legislation in not overturned at a federal level, the state just made sure that there will never be another Democrat elected to statewide office there ever again. So now it will go to the courts...........which are filled with Mango Menace appointees, including three on the Supreme Court. And Georgia is only the beginning. If the Democrats in the Senate (the House having already passed a new Voting Rights Act) don’t act decisively and soon, this will be repeated in every southern state, as well as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Dr. Richardson, I’m especially grateful for this and related Letters you’ve posted because it explains the background to my family’s immigration by1850 to Ohio from West Virginia, then to Kansas in 1870, and on to Washington State in 1886. My great-great grandmother was described as a true Friend (a Quaker term) in her obituary in Ohio and I have a photo taken around 1860 of a black man with the Austrian nutcracker jaw that everyone in my family shared. My grandfather commissioned a ceramic profile of Abraham Lincoln by an artist who had actually seen him to be placed over the hearth of his fireplace in 1910, the N word was not to be used, and we were taught that blood has only one color before I ever saw or heard about “race”. I was thoroughly dismayed to learn that some people in the South actually thought “non-whites” were considered inferior. I wish our education system would universally teach how mistaken people are about skin color indicating superiority/inferiority because it’s only an excuse used by lighter skinned people to suppress and abuse “others”, and costs our whole nation around the world. I’ve quoted some of your material in my family history. Thankyou for that and for all your diligence seeking out the truth.