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Return of "Three-Fifths' of a Person

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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Yet, rather than undertake the painful internal process of returning the Republican Party to its traditions of racial tolerance, the GOP appears to have opted for a strategy that would "double-down" on its rural white "base" by over-weighting those votes and undervaluing the votes of minorities and city-dwellers.

Confederate Statues

While this scheme is playing out in several GOP-controlled states, the movement is advancing fastest in Richmond, a city proud of its boulevard of giant statues honoring Confederate "heroes." Inside the Virginia Statehouse, a large statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee stands in the center of the old House of Representatives as if he has just arrived to give instructions to the chamber.

But this Republican assault on "one person, one vote" is not about the past but the present and the future. The real-life effect of Virginia's new "Three-Fifths (or less)" clause is demonstrated by the fact that if the proposed system were in effect last November, Obama would have won the state but received only four of the state's 13 electoral votes.

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State Sen. Donald A. McEachin, a Democrat, denounced the Republican bill as "absolutely a partisan bill aimed at defying the will of the voters, giving Republican presidential candidates most of Virginia's electoral votes, regardless of who carries the state."

Across the country, Republican politicians also have been trying to suppress the minority vote through voter ID laws that tend to disenfranchise urban dwellers and the poor and by reducing voting times with the result of creating long lines at city precincts and forcing many voters to stand in lines for hours.

The bitter irony of today's Republican Party leading the fight to devalue the concept of equal citizenship was that the original Republican Party led the fight to grant full citizenship to African-Americans in the 1860s. The GOP, however, has since evolved via Nixon's Southern Strategy into a national political organization determined to minimize, if not neutralize, the influence of blacks and other minorities.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at

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