Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said during a speech Thursday that a large majority of African-Americans support Jim Crow laws.
Of course he didn’t quite say it like that. What he actually said while speaking before Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network was that Republicans support voter ID laws– sorry, “voter suppression”– because they want to bring back the era of segregation. “You would have thought that after all we have gone through as a country to make sure that people have the right to vote, regardless of the color of their skin, that these Republican governors would show some mercy and not try to bring us back to Jim Crow days,” he argued.
The intended effect of his remarks were just to tar Republicans as racists, but in the process he managed to smear eight out of ten Americans, including a majority of Democrats. Polls have consistently found that voter ID laws are very popular with general population. Whites and Republicans are most likely to support them, but these polls also find a majority of blacks and Hispanics also support voter ID laws.
Most recently, a 2015 Rasmussen poll found 71 percent of African-Americans support voter ID laws. In 2012, 65 percent of African-Americans in a Washington Post poll agreed that people should be “required to show official, government-issued photo identification” before voting (64 percent of Hispanics agreed). A 2013 YouGov poll found that 58% of African-Americans support voter ID.
There has never– repeat, never— been a poll that’s found that a majority of African-Americans oppose voter ID. The absolute lowest support for voter ID laws ever recorded was 51% in a 2014 Fox poll. Now I know internalized racism is a thing, but I’m preeeeeetty sure you couldn’t get half of blacks to support Jim Crow, let alone 7o percent.
What the polls show may very well be unique: the first time in American history where there has been a massive, well-funded effort by the leaders of the black community to paint certain laws as racist, and the average black American simply shrugged.
Given that blacks consistently support voter ID laws, why does the black commentariat and liberal activist class continue to press it as an issue and portray it as the next coming of George Wallace? Well, the same reason the NRA characterizes background checks as de facto gun registry and Planned Parenthood declares noncontroversial restrictions on abortion a War on Women: activists’ relevance and financial well-being depends on getting their target audiences outraged.
Now, if I were a cynic, I would say that Bernie Sanders’ Jim Crow imagery was a Hail Mary to try and win over the black vote ahead of a Democratic New York primary he’s expected to badly lose to Hillary Clinton. Luckily, I am a cynic. That’s what happened.
There’s a reason Sanders never once referenced to “voter ID laws” during his tirade, and only said “voter suppression.” Because if Sanders, Sharpton, and their intellectual peers actually engaged in a frank discussion of what exactly they oppose, the vast majority of blacks would realize their self-appointed leaders are harping on issues they’ve never cared about one bit.