He couldn’t back down any longer. Party-pressed Joe Biden spoke publicly for the first time this week about what many in the country are beginning to call “Jim Crow 2.0” – a modern version of racial segregation laws such as those enacted in the southern United States from the 1880s. In a long speech Tuesday evening in Philadelphia, city of signing of the declaration of independence in 1776, the successor of Donald Trump was angry against the attacks “to the most fundamental democratic right of all, the one without which nothing is possible”. He was indignant at the “big lie” (“the big lie”) uttered by his predecessor aimed at making people believe in massive electoral fraud during the last presidential election. President Biden called on Congress and the states to a “uprising” against these measures “hypocrites”.
Because it is the shadow of Donald Trump that hovers behind the attempts of Congress in the hands of the Republicans to rigidify the procedures for access to the right to vote.
Even before the billionaire was seized with this obsession that the presidential elections had been “stolen”, tensions had already arisen between certain conservative entities and the political class labeled “progressive” on access to the right to vote. But since Mr. Trump’s continual complaints, which are now echoed in an endless chain of emails sent to his supporters, the Republican majorities have shifted into high gear: seventeen states led by the Conservatives have thus enacted restrictive laws against the right to vote, which directly target citizens of color, the most disadvantaged and the youngest as well as the elderly, that is to say all audiences who traditionally vote democratic.
Federal supervision now obsolete
The history of the franchise in the United States has long been marked by the same racial tensions that have rocked the country since the drafters of the American Constitution in 1787 decided not to ban the slave trade. . It was not until 1868 and the end of the Civil War that black slaves were offered the status of citizens and the concomitant right to vote, at least for men. At the same time, so-called “Jim Crow” racial discrimination laws appeared in the South after the “infamous Compromise” of 1877 saw federal troops end their wardship over secessionist states in the South, allowing the on the basis of practices aimed at preventing ethnic minorities from expressing their electoral preferences. In some states, for example, literacy tests were imposed as an essential condition for exercising the right to vote.
In 1965, President Johnson, passed down for posterity as the number one defender of civil rights, put an end to these practices, imposing federal oversight over voting procedures in many southern states. However, this supervision was to be lifted in 2013 when the Supreme Court declared certain aspects of this supervision unconstitutional, which reinforced some conservatives in their attempts to again rigidify the procedures for access to the right to vote.
In this respect, as in so many others, the United States is today at a turning point in its history. In a country where the federated entities are in charge of organizing their elections, the conservatives, who know that demographic development is unfavorable to them, are trying at all costs to prevent ethnic minorities and young people, as a priority, from expressing their choice.
Different recipes are available to them: purging the electoral lists, reducing the opening of polling stations, stiffening postal voting procedures or even making the procedures aimed at being able to prove one’s identity more complex. Faced with this challenge, the Democrats seem very helpless, their project to overhaul electoral laws at the federal level having no chance of seeing the light of day. It will therefore be a question for them of using other weapons, among which the sensitization for, according to the words used by the president this Tuesday, “educate voters about the changes underway, push them to get on the lists, and… send them to the polls”. The challenge promises to be colossal.