The Republicans who now control the legislatures and governorships in the deep South are using the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 to create a system of political apartheid. No state demonstrates this better than Alabama, where in 2010 Republicans took over the State Senate and House for the first time since Reconstruction. This is a signal example of the decline of black power in the South. Mike Hubbard, a Republican from Auburn, who is speaker of the Alabama House, engineered the 2010 takeover of the legislature. He was forthright in his 2012 book — “Storming the Statehouse: The Campaign that Liberated Alabama from 136 years of Democrat Rule” — about his techniques for displacing white Democratic incumbents: “We needed to find our targets and the candidates to take them on, so I commissioned an in-depth study of voting patterns in various districts represented by white Democratic legislators across the state.”
Before the 2010 election, there were 60 Democrats in the Alabama State House, 34 of them white, 26 black. Now, there are 36 Democrats, 26 of them black, 10 of them white. In the State Senate, the number of Democrats fell from 20 – 13 white, 7 black – to 11 Democrats, 4 white, 7 black.
Once Alabama Republicans gained control of the levers of power, they wasted no time using the results of the 2010 Census to reinforce their position of dominance. Newly drawn lines further corralled black voters into legislative districts with large African-American majorities, a tactic political professionals call “packing and stacking.” Redrawn district lines minimize the potential of coalitions between a minority of white voters and a solid core of black voters. Under these circumstances, white Republican voting blocs remain dominant.
At the core of this strategy is an unexpected twist: Republicans in Alabama and in many other states have gone out of their way to protect black legislative districts and black legislators from Republican or white Democratic challenges.
Have Republican legislators in the South become civil and voting rights champions? No. They are promoting the interests of African-American voters in order to enhance the ability of Republican officials whose real targets, white Democrats, are struggling to cope with the steady decline of loyal “Yellow Dog” supporters.
Full Article: Keeping Black Voters in Their Place – NYTimes.com.