Volume 33, Number 1

Republican War on Democracy Reveals That It Is The Party of Racism and White Supremacy

Fred Schepartz

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Republicans have such a bug up their ass about ballot drop boxes.

They are safe and secure. They are built to be tamper-proof, and they are generally under constant surveillance. For instance, here in Madison, all but one are installed outside fire stations.

They are certainly more secure than the U.S. mail. In fact, their use creates a direct chain of custody between the voter and the municipal clerk. To illustrate, I request an absentee ballot. It comes in the mail and includes an envelope with a sticker that has my name and address, along with a bar code that contains data identifying the ballot as mine.

I slide my completed absentee ballot in the slot of the drop box. Sometime after, sworn deputies of the municipal clerk open the drop box, collect the ballots and deliver them to the municipal clerk’s office.

How can anyone have a problem with this?

It’s not like I can fill out a bogus absentee ballot, drop it in a drop box and have it count. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand how elections are run. The municipal clerks and their deputized staff account for each and every absentee ballot that is requested.

And yet, Republicans seem to have this irrational hatred of ballot drop boxes, even though, for instance, here in Wisconsin, Republican legislators actually praised the use of ballot drop boxes. Of course, that was before they saw the result of the election. They were for them before they were against them.

I have even tried to go looking for arguments against ballot drop boxes, but could not find any that had any basis in logic.

The only real argument they seem to make against drop boxes is that it makes it that much easier to vote absentee, which suddenly was believed to encourage fraud.

Well, that’s at least what Giant Baby Man said.

Of course, GBM attempted to put his potential loss in doubt by claiming he could only be defeated through fraud, Covid and the economy notwithstanding.

And of course, upon losing the election, the Giant Baby Man acted like a major big baby, throwing perhaps the greatest temper tantrum in the history of temper tantrums because that is one thing he is very good at doing.

What is clear is that they—and by they, I mean GBM and Republicans—don’t want people to vote. They don’t like expansion of absentee voting because it makes it easier to vote. They don’t like ballot drop boxes because it makes it easier to vote.

And what’s especially revealing is the cities they targeted as suspect—cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, all cities with large, Black populations.

Republicans allege fraud in such places, but the reality is that they don’t want Black citizens voting. And it’s not that they believe Blacks are more likely to vote Democrat. They don’t want Blacks to vote.

I believe the Republican Party has been a party of racism for a long time, but now it seems they don’t even try to hide it.

GBM is a racist and dominates the party. White supremacist groups brazenly support GBM, and nobody stands up to denounce him for not denouncing them. Both Roger Stone and Alex Jones have used Oath Keepers as body guards. Let us never forget when pressed by Joe Biden during one of the debates to tell the Proud Boys to stand down, GBM in what is clearly not a slip of the tongue told them to “stand back and stand by.”

January 6 is clear proof that they did exactly that. With a year of hindsight, there is a clear and straight line from Charlottesville to January 6. And it’s all with GBM’s blessing and encouragement.

And what does the Republican Party do? They refuse to denounce the Big Lie, and they use it as a pretense for passing voter suppression bills all over the country. When one peels back these efforts, one sees racist motivations and racist results.

There’s gerrymandering, specifically designed to dilute the power of minority voters.

There’s voter ID bills that tend to disproportionately affect people of color, especially older people who don’t have a birth certificate.

More pernicious, in Georgia, where it is illegal to give water to people waiting in line to vote, the state legislature passed a bill giving the State Election Board the authority to take over a county’s election administration if they believe something crooked is going on.

There’s long been concern that the State Election Board would target Fulton County, which includes Atlanta and has a substantial Black population.

Georgia also passed laws limiting the use of ballot drop boxes and made it more difficult to vote absentee. Florida quickly passed a slew of similar measures.

In general, states have made it more difficult to vote in person (and in places like Georgia and Texas, it is particularly difficult to vote in person in areas with large minority populations). They have made it more difficult to vote early or vote absentee. They make it easier to purge voter rolls. They make it more difficult to hand in one’s absentee ballot. Many states have also increased criminal penalties for what in reality are honest mistakes when one votes. Given the racially disproportion of arrest, conviction and sentencing of Blacks in this country, such measures are inherently racist.

This country has a poor track record of restricting people who are note white from voting. What we are seeing now is clearly, as Joe Biden put it, Jim Crow 2.0.

And what does this say about the people passing these laws and the party to which they belong?

I think we all know the answer.

The Republican Party has no ideas. They have no policies. They have no platform. All they have is a thirst for acquiring and consolidating power. And it is stark and clear that they see preventing people who are not white from voting as that means to that end.

While I was writing this editorial, I looked up at my bulletin board and noticed a handwritten note that says, “Who are we, and who do we want to be?”

This is a quote from the fantastic film Isle of Dogs.

I wrote a whole editorial based on that quote. It struck me that much. I think of it again here because this vision of America by today’s Republican Party is certainly not who I would like us to be. And yet, here we are: blatant racist voter suppression measures, anti-Semitism on the rise and becoming increasingly violent, suppression of the teaching of Slavery and the Holocaust and what feels like a creep or even a lurch toward fascism.

As it is said, when people say things, when they do things, listen and watch. People tend to reveal who they are.

And that is absolutely true of GBM’s Republican Party.


Before I go, I have to say a few words about Tyler Stovall. You probably don’t know who he is though if you do, I would be very impressed.

Tyler died suddenly in December. I heard the news last month, and it was a real kick in the gut even though I hadn’t seen Tyler in decades.

When I took my first history class at UW-Madison with noted lefty professor Harvey Goldberg, Tyler was my TA. The class was European Social History 1914–1945.

Tyler was a great teacher. He was smart as a whip. He would sometimes get this look on his face where I could tell he was thinking deeply and brilliantly. Tyler was also a good friend. I’d sometimes run into him, and we might grab a beer or just hang out and talk. I always valued our conversations.

Decades later, I suddenly heard his voice on our local community radio station, WORT 89.9 FM. He was a guest on the station’s midday call-in talk show “A Public Affair,” hosted by my longtime friend Allen Ruff, who was also a TA of mine back in the day. Tyler was on Allen’s show talking about his new book White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea.

It was so fantastic hearing Tyler’s voice. He sounded the same as decades ago, as if time had suddenly decided to stand still. Tyler presented a brilliant tapestry of intersections in a captivating and brilliant conversation with Allen.

I thought about calling in just to say hello, but I didn’t. I greatly regret not doing so.

I heard him again on the air early this year, but missed the part where the show was introduced with the sad news of him passing. I tuned into the archive for the show and heard the horrible news. Again, that was a kick in the gut.

Ironically, I found out about Tyler dying just a few days after looking up a couple of my favorite professors and confirming that they had died. One was UW–Madison physics professor Robert March. I took his wonderful Physics for Poets Class. I would run into him around town periodically or at the 602 Club when it was still open. I always enjoyed our conversations.

For me, Tyler and Professor March will be forever entwined. When I took that first Harvey Goldberg class, I wrote my term paper about McCarthyism. One of my fellow students told me that her husband or boyfriend (I can’t remember which) when he was a grad student was approached by FBI agents who wanted him to rat out his parents as communists. They were union organizers, working, I believe, with dock workers. I actually got to meet them once. They were amazing.

The grad student in question was Robert March who very graciously gave me an interview, which was a huge part of the term paper I wrote for Tyler. I think Tyler gave me an A on the paper.

Tyler did have a great academic career. He authored 10 books. He served as dean of the Humanities Division and distinguished professor of history at the University of California–Santa Cruz, dean of the Undergraduate Division of Letters and Science at the University of California–Berkeley and most recently as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Fordham University. He was very well respected, both among mainstream and radical academic circles.

It occurs to me that it is a rite of passage for most of us to outlive our teachers. What is most important is that we let their lessons live on not only inside ourselves but through our own words and deeds.

But let’s give Tyler the last word:

As Tyler stated on his personal website: “For me, history is the record not only of how things change, but how people make things change, how they act individually and collectively to create a better world.”