Young People, the GOP Is Scared of You

October 17, 2018 by Leonard Pitts

A word for young people, people of color and, in particular, young people of color:

The Republicans are scared of you.

Maybe you find that hard to believe. Maybe you wonder how the party can be scared of you — or of anybody — given that it controls all three branches of the federal government and most of the nation’s state houses. You’re worried about paying your student loans, putting food on the table, getting home without becoming some cop’s mistake, and the GOP is scared of you?

In a word: Yes.

See, the party knows that if everybody votes, it can’t win. That’s simple math. The Republican electorate skews sharply older and white. Polling from The Roper Center at Cornell University says whites went for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 57 percent to 37 percent, while people of color strongly supported her, African Americans giving her 89 percent of their vote. Trump also lost big among young voters, but won big among their elders.

This dependence on older whites is a problem for the GOP, given that the United States is fast moving toward a younger, non-white majority. The Census Bureau predicts that, well before mid-century, America will be a nation where no racial group enjoys a numerical advantage. And the authoritative FiveThirtyEight blog reports that the white median age in this country is 43, while for Asians it’s 36, for African Americans, 34 and for Hispanics, 29.

As the trend lines are clear, so is the party’s solution: keep you from voting. Thus, as we approach a critical midterm election, the GOP is embracing voter suppression with a brazenness not seen since Bloody Sunday in 1965.

In Bismarck, North Dakota, lawmakers have passed a photo ID law that requires residents to show a current street address. And surely it’s only unfortunate coincidence that many Native Americans live on reservations that don’t use street addresses, only P.O. boxes, which the law doesn’t recognize.

In Georgia, secretary of state and GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp is being sued over the state’s so-called “exact match” law, in which voter registration applications are flagged if the voter’s identifying information fails to match state records, down to such picayune matters as missing hyphens and transposed letters. Over 53,000 people are said to have been impacted, most of them people of color.

In Tallahassee in July, a federal judge decried “a stark pattern of discrimination” against young people in Florida’s blocking of early voting at colleges and universities. Across the country, nearly a thousand polling places have been shut down in recent years, many in Southern black communities. In Cuthbert, Georgia, in August, the elections board beat back a plan to close seven of the nine polling places in a county that just happens to be majority black. Meantime, Stacey Abrams just happens to be running to become Georgia — and the nation’s — first black woman governor.

If you are a young person, a person of color or a young person of color, then, you may well face long lines, paperwork and other headaches as you seek to exercise your constitutional rights next month. Please persevere. That’s the only way to elect people who understand that access to the ballot is a fundamental principle of democracy. It is the only way to rescue this country.

Don’t let anyone tell you your vote doesn’t matter. Ask yourself: If your ballot wasn’t important, would Republicans work so hard to keep you from casting it? Of course not. And I’ll say it again: They are scared of you.

Please show them that they have reason to be.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at [email protected].


© 2018 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Opinions

Being a Moderate in Congress Is Expensive Opinions
Being a Moderate in Congress Is Expensive
June 11, 2019
by Anne Kim

Few jobs in politics might be tougher than to be a moderate member of Congress. Moderates typically hail from competitive districts, which means they enter office with targets on their backs from an opposition eager to wrest away their seats. And unlike their colleagues in safely... Read More

A Brighter Future: Brought to You by Tolerance and Responsible Leadership Opinions
A Brighter Future: Brought to You by Tolerance and Responsible Leadership
May 1, 2019
by Bawa Jain

Persons of faith from around the world are suffering, yet again. The world had not yet healed from the attacks in New Zealand, when the devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings took place in Sri Lanka. Then, just a week later, there was another hate-fueled attack –... Read More

The Americanism of the Electoral College Opinions
The Americanism of the Electoral College
April 16, 2019
by Guy Redmer

There’s something particularly ironic about a presidential candidate standing in the rural state of Mississippi and calling for abolishment of the Electoral College. Yet, that’s exactly what Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., did on the campaign trail. She’s not alone. Other major Democratic candidates have piled on... Read More

We Weep for You, Our Lady Opinions
We Weep for You, Our Lady

The first time I saw it, I could barely breathe. It was so beautiful against the cerulean sky. Our Lady of Paris. It looked like a mass of lace, draped over scaffolding, with giant crystal kaleidoscope windows. I fell in love with a building that was... Read More

Betsy DeVos Can't Be Bothered Opinions
Betsy DeVos Can't Be Bothered
April 12, 2019
by Mary Sanchez

Say this for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: She's consistently elitist. She's also consistently obtuse, which often is the demeanor of the entitled. DeVos simply can't be bothered to consult studies that don't comport with what she already believes or to consider input from members of... Read More

Soldier On, Lawyers Opinions
Soldier On, Lawyers
April 4, 2019
by Melody A. Kramer

Lawyers are at rock bottom. Only 18% of the population perceives lawyers to contribute “a lot” to society. This was the conclusion of a 2013 Pew Research Center study regarding the perceived contribution to society of various professions and try though I might, I couldn’t find... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top