Cornell West, Tavis Smiley and Ralph Nader?

Cornell West and Tavis Smiley are teaming up with Ralph Nader to “strengthen the President by having a conversation with him through a primary.” Incomprehensible behavior, at best. I expect this from Nader who made a career out of running for president every four years between 1992 and 2008. As for Smiley and West getting caught up in the negative rhetoric against the President, especially since the groundwork for same has been deftly laid out by Republicans over the past couple of years, fortunately, they (including Nader) don’t matter.

Meanwhile, states with a Republican majority in their legislatures are ramming through new laws that suppress the vote primarily for Democrats, people of color, the elderly, rural America and college students under the guise of combating nonexistent voter fraud. This is the battle that Smiley, West and others should be fighting.

Fortunately, no one is waiting for West, Smiley or even Nader to address voter suppression. While they appear on various talk shows to air empty complaints, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights are holding hearings examining new voter ID laws for their constitutionality. Highlights from the first hearing can be viewed here. The following was covered at that hearing:

In Part 1, we covered the subcommittee’s examination of new polling place photo ID restrictions designed to make it more difficult for lawfully registered (and disproportionately Democratic-leaning) voters to cast their ballots at the precincts on Election Day. That issue — which included some devastating cross-examination of long-time GOP “voter fraud” front-man Hans Von Spakovsky by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) — was the first of three categories, as defined by committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) of new state voting laws covered in the hearings. All of the new voter suppression laws have been recently rammed through Republican-majority statehouses across the country. [….]

Yesterday’s hearing proposed to cover:

In this concluding piece, we will cover the two additional categories examined: laws erecting barriers to the ability of individuals and non-partisan, non-governmental organizations to offer convenient registration for new voters and laws imposing significant reductions on early voting periods. Both are likely to restrict the number of voters able to cast their lawful vote in 2012 and, again, each is likely to disproportionately affect Democratic-leaning voters.

Finally, we’ll also touch upon the status of legal challenges to these new laws by democracy proponents and challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself by operatives on the Right. Moreover, it’s impossible to look at any of these issues without drawing inferences about what the combination of new laws in all three categories means, particularly in light of the fact that the models for these new laws were drafted by thebillionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)… [….]

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