Thursday, October 22, 2009

They Don't Know Their Place

This week I worked as an Election Judge in Douglas County, Colorado. We are having an “off year” election, with no candidates for national office. However, we are electing four members to our seven-member school board.

Here is a copy of a mailing I received that recommends a slate of four candidates:

What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

The four candidates are recommended by the Douglas County Republican Party, and it appears that the Party is endorsing candidates who are running in a “non-partisan” election.

In addition, the Denver Post reports that Colorado Ethics Watch is asking for an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. The contention is that one of the candidates (Meghann Silverthorn at the bottom of the election form shown above) has violated the Hatch Act because she is employed by the Department of Defense and is running as a candidate for “partisan” political office.

Once again, Republicans are causing problems.

I see this issue as connected to one in Kinston, North Carolina. The Washington Times reports on this town having decided last year to make local elections non-partisan. The main reason appears to be that Kinston is in fact a one-party city. As the Washington Times reports, “…no one among more than a half-dozen city officials and local residents was able to recall a Republican winning office here.”

So what’s the problem in Kinston? The Justice Department has ruled that Kinston may NOT conduct non-partisan elections. Loretta King, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, wrote a letter to Kinston stating that “…the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.” (It might be worthwhile to note that Ms. King is the same person who brought about the dismissal of a civil suit against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.)

But back to the situation in Douglas County, Colorado…

Here, Republicans make up almost 50% of registered voters. In the City of Kinston, 65% of registered voters are African-American. It is reasonable to assume that most of the voters in Kinston are not Republicans.

And so we have Douglas County Republicans under fire for using partisan politics, and Kinston, North Carolina being redressed for NOT using partisan politics. What is the principle being applied in each case?

I don’t think it has anything to do with legal issues.

In Douglas County, the public school system is the province of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees. The Douglas County Federation is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and is bound and determined not to allow voters to create a Republican-dominated school board.

In Kinston, Republicans have been kept out of power for years. No local change in voting policy will be allowed to change that dynamic.

In both cases, our culture is teaching Republicans “they need to know their place.”

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