Andy Martin asks whether some African-American “congressional leaders” are cheapening the 50th anniversary of the historic march from Selma, Alabama
Fifty years ago civil rights leaders began a march from
New Hampshire Republican Party maverick Andy Martin was and continues to be a
strong supporter of civil rights. Andy looks back at the Montgomery, Alabama Selma
march and asks why today’s civil rights leaders and members of the
Congressional Black Caucus are now cheapening the memory of the historic event.
Andy says national progress can only come when all Americans join together, and
when partisan divisions are set aside. Andy cites the New Hampshire Secretary
of State as a source of concern that voting laws and voting itself are becoming
increasing causes for concern. “If photo ID’s would be good for New
Hampshire,” Andy asks. “Why not for everywhere in the
Ballot integrity should be paramount. And ballot integrity has nothing to do
with diluting respect and reverence for the historic Selma
march. The need for photo ID’s is consistent with, not repugnant to, the Voting
Rights Act of 1965.”
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Andy Martin questions whether today’s “civil rights leaders” are polarizing the nation rather than uniting the American people
Andy says the fiftieth anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery,
is being used to create
partisan divisions Alabama
Andy says that today’s leaders lack the vision - Republican and Democratic - that united the nation fifty years ago
Andy says the
anniversary should not be
exploited in 2015 with bogus claims of “poll taxes” and racial discrimination Selma
( Manchester, NH March 6, 2015)
I grew up in a home that was committed to civil rights. One of the most moving
moments in my young life was when my mom looked at me and said, “We are
committed to civil rights.” I am just as committed to civil rights today, in
2015, as I was in 1965.
That is why I am saddened to see how today’s so-called “congressional civil rights leaders,” in reality little more than racial hucksters, are cheapening the memory of the great Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama march.
First there was the bogus “
movie that sought to minimize the role of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in
achieving voting rights. I worked in Washington
during Johnson’s years. Nothing happened in Washington
without Johnson’s stamp of approval. No man since has ever been as committed to
civil rights as Johnson was. He had a close, but clandestine, relationship with
my boss, Senator Paul H. Douglas, and so I had an inside perspective on the
relationship between the two men.
Likewise, I was brought up in a home with three-sided religious affiliations: Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic. All denominations supported the
Americans became united in rejecting the racism of Jim Crow and the 1965 south.
Time, of course, has not stood still. There have been great successes and abject failures in the past fifty years. The Republican Party has become more conservative, but so has the
States. Data fraud, identity theft and
computer crime had yet to be invented in 1965. Voting fraud in Chicago?
Still with us. The personal computer, let alone the smart phone, could only be
seen in the comic book futurology of 1965.
Today, day after day, African-American members of congress steadily cheapen the memory of
and seek to divide us for their own selfish spoils. Instead of using the Selma anniversary
to extend their reach, to bring the nation together, to expand their own “base”
more deeply into non-African-American communities, these so-called congressional
leaders are doing exactly the opposite. They are stridently negative when they
could and should be boisterously positive.
Reasonable people can differ about the need for voter identification laws. But here is the reality of 2015, not 1965: in 2015, no one is able to open a bank account without a photo ID. No one can board an airplane without a photo ID. Virtually every federal building requires a photo ID to enter. For African-American leaders to claim that those of us who support ID’s for voting are endorsing racial discrimination, “poll taxes” and mass denial of voting to blacks is an outrage. These false prophets are deepening the racial divide in
not seeking to eliminate it.
In 1965, when the Congress and the Democratic Party were still controlled by racist white legislators, Republican votes made the difference in approving the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But there would have been no civil rights laws without the support of Republican leader Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen. Although both Douglas and Dirksen (whom I regularly met) came from
they were polar opposites in temperament. But Dirksen’s support was the linchpin,
the indispensable prerequisite for enacting civil rights laws. Without Dirksen,
there would have been no voting rights, no civil rights. America
would have plunged deeper into a racial abyss.
That’s why those who know (Senators of both parties) have named one of the senate office buildings after Dirksen. Today we live in the world envisioned by Senator Douglas; but we in that because it was enacted by Senator Dirksen.
Are African-American leaders thanking Republicans for enacting voting rights. Not at all. They are excoriating them for currently supporting the need for voter ID laws. To inflate today’s call for basic identification, which is required in every aspect of American life, into some sort of indictment of those who support ballot security, is an outrage. The Democrats’ irrational attacks boomeranged at the polls in 2014, and they will boomerang again in 2016, and will keep boomeranging until today’s “leaders” stop their racially-motivated partisan attacks.
The presidency of African-American Barack Hussein Obama has been a disaster. Every day brings new threats of foreign policy collapse and domestic division. To take words from
Second Inaugural, the next president will have to “bind up the wounds” of this
nation. And they will be many. So yes, Obama has exacerbated racial
polarization. Each party has become locked in rigid embrace of its own doxology
with no breathing space for the “other.”
As a partisan opponent of Obama, and as much as I have come to detest him, I wish that he had taken up a contrary approach and sought to bind up the wounds left behind by the failed presidency of George W. Bush. Instead, Obama has been the most polarizing president of modern history. Obama has squandered all of the goodwill with which this nation, rightly or wrongfully, embraced him in 2008.
I was a proud supporter of civil rights in 1965. I am an even prouder supporter of civil rights in 2015. When I look back on all of the progress we have made in the intervening 50 years, and when I look ahead to the promise of the next 50 years I am heartened, not disappointed. But I can’t help believing that if today’s African-American leaders had as much foresight as their predecessors, we would be celebrating a great national victory with the
anniversary, instead of being polarized, once again, by partisan attacks on
Republicans and conservatives who wish to embrace modern technology and accept
the demands of 2015, not 1965. Valid voter photo ID is a necessity of the modern
No doubt obtaining a photo ID can be a problem for some people. Rather than encouraging laws which assist every American to become “identified,” civil rights leaders today are trying to use the ID challenges of a few as a general indictment of American society. That assault on “America 2015” is doomed to failure, and is having a boomerang effect at the very polls African-American leaders want to protect. An assistance program could resolve the ID dispute in an instant if good people would sit down and “reason together” as Johnson asked us to do.
Bu where are the seats on which to sit? Where is the reason? What is the price of division? May the ghosts of
Selma whisper in
the ears of our leaders today, “Unity, not division, is the road to progress.” Selma
embodied the hopes of a nation that was slowly coalescing around the concept of
civil rights for everyone, and gradually acknowledging the inhumanity of
segregation and racial division.
We won that war. Sadly, today, some “leaders” are losing the peace by making spurious attacks on good citizens with whom they have honest differences of governance. The “ID wars” are not even remotely a basis for attacks of racism and partisanship. In
the Secretary of State has sounded alarms about tens of thousands of questionable
ballots and widespread misuse of the voting process, in a state that is over
90% white. We need voter ID in New Hampshire.
I am a 100% supporter.
President Johnson always said, “Come let us reason together.” Those words are as true today as they were in 1965.
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