On Wednesday, President Bill Clinton spoke to young liberal activists at Campus Progress' annual conference in Washington, D.C. During his address, the Democrat lashed out at Republicans over various proposals they are waging across the nation to address election policies. Most notably, the former president compared these efforts to Jim Crow laws, which were implemented between 1876 and 1965 to limit African American participation in elections. CNN has more:
"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the voter Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit a franchise that we see today," Clinton said at Campus Progress's annual conference in Washington.
...Clinton said Republican governors and legislators are now trying to "keep most of you [young people] from voting next time."
"They [Republicans] are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate," Clinton added, referencing the dip in youth voter turnout in the 2010 elections. "Are you fighting? You should be fighting it."
Clinton went on to criticize the GOP's push for same-day registration and similar proposals that would not allow convicted felons to vote once their probation is concluded. This latter point was addressed with fervency, as Clinton contended that people should not be disenfranchised "forever once they've paid their price."
The former president seemed to indicate that he believes that in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott has, indeed, prevented participation from convicted felons, these moves are purely political. The reason, he says, is that most of the inmates are African Americans or Hispanics who "would tend to vote for Democrats."
The prominent politician's words were a clear attempt to tie current policies being put in place in various states around the nation with the horrific and racist legalities that were installed during the country's regrettable Jim Crow era. By claiming that the GOP is disenfranchising young people and minorities, he may hope his words hold the potential to inspire people within these groups to support Democratic candidates in 2012.
These comments come one month after Rep. Debbie Wasserman, the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, took the GOP to task on election law. Like Clinton, but much more direct in her statements, Wasserman claimed that Republicans are pushing Jim Crow-like measures. According to PolitiFact, she said:
"Well, I mean if you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and – and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did that in (the Help America Vote Act) and made sure that we could iron out those kinks -- now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it's nothing short of that blatant."
Later on that day, Wasserman, amid criticism, admitted that "Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use." PolitiFact found her statements to be "false" when they were tested for accuracy and reliability. Below, you can watch her appearance where she discusses these issues on Roland Martin's television program:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/XFa_W1V8Nts?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
Considering Wasserman's mistake, it is curious that President Clinton would invoke the same terminology just a month after the current DNC chairwoman did the same.