‘This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century’
It’s not often that a song by a man named Bobby Russell, written in 1972, becomes a number one hit for Vicki Lawrence on the 1973 Billboard Hot 100, a hit again in 1991 when Reba McEntire recorded it, reaching number 12 on Hot Country Songs and then is so prescient that it could foretell what would happen in Georgia in 2021.*
You see, folks, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, thanks to the fine Republicans in Georgia’s legislature and to that model governor, Brian Kemp, the lights went out in Georgia.
(*Yes, before I’m inundated with cards and letters telling me the song has nothing to do with this issue, all I can say is allow me a little “poetic license.” But also recall that one line in the song’s chorus is, “Don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer, ’cause the judge in the town’s got blood stains on his hands.” Substitute “governor” for “lawyer” and it begins to ring true.)
To help you understand why the lights went out, let me quote from the brilliant commentator, Heather Cox Richardson:
There is only one story today.
It is not the coronavirus pandemic, although 547,000 of us have died of Covid-19, and a study today suggested that we could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths if we had adopted masks and social distancing early on. It is not the coronavirus even though today President Joe Biden noted that we will reach 100 million vaccinations tomorrow and that he aims to reach 200 million vaccines by his 100th day in office….
It is not the situation on our southern border, where a surge of migrants apparently matches the seasonal pattern of people trying to make it into the United States….
It is not the economy, although the U.S. Treasury said today it had issued 37 million payments this week, worth $83 billion, from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan….
The story today—and always—is the story of American democracy.
Tonight, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a 95-page law designed to suppress the vote in the state where voters chose two Democratic senators in 2020, making it possible for Democrats to enact their agenda. Among other things, the new law strips power from the Republican secretary of state who stood up to Trump’s demand that he change the 2020 voting results. The law also makes it a crime to give water or food to people waiting in line to vote.
The Georgia law is eye-popping, but it is only one of more than 250 measures in 43 states designed to keep Republicans in power no matter what voters want.
This is the only story from today because it is the only story historians will note from this era: Did Americans defend their democracy or did they fall to oligarchy?
I ask you…is this the Georgia, the fourth state of the original 13 to ratify the Constitution? Or is the Democratic Republic of Georgia, the former Soviet republic which has been accused of having an illiberal oligarchy lurking behind its democratic façade?
Well, at least the country of Georgia has a façade of democracy. Can’t say that for the Peach Tree state.
Take a look at the lowlights of this new Georgia law (for which the passing and signing process was “faster than a speeding bullet.”).
Here’s a video that describes these new regulations a bit more:
In response to Georgia Republicans passing legislation that relies on “the Big Lie” perpetrated by Trump and his allies (one of whom is Sydney Powell, whose lawyers now claim, “no reasonable person” would believe that her false claims and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election were “truly statements of fact.”), one Joseph R. Biden, the most popular President of the United States in the last four years said, “This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act,” as he urged Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.
Yes we all knew that the GOP knows that the only way they can win is to suppress votes. We all knew that to achieve that goal, they need to pass egregious, undemocratic laws, laws that will disenfranchise millions of voters, taking away their most sacred democratic right, simply because they won’t vote for Republican candidates or support their policies.
Heather Cox Richardson wrote, there are “…more than 250 measures in 43 states designed to keep Republicans in power no matter what voters want.”
Yes, the lights went out in Georgia. But, will they go out in 43 more states as well?
Or, will reason and democracy return to this country? And, if that happens, will we be able to turn the lights back on?