SID SALTER: Black voters in GOP runoff a step forward, not backward

Back in 1995 in the film “The American President,” Michael Douglas delivered a speech answering a rival that for many defined the cynical, hardball nature of politics in our country when he said that his opponent was “interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”

Indeed. Exhibit “A” is basically any TV commercial or social media video you saw from either side in the 2014 Mississippi GOP Senate primary. This race made fans of hardball politics blush, cringe and recoil.

Part of the narrative being offered in some quarters in the wake of what has been the strangest party primary in the state’s recent history is that efforts to gain increased black voter participation in the Republican U.S. Senate primary somehow “set race relations in Mississippi back 50 years.”

How incredibly ridiculous that claim sounds from a historical perspective! Here we are in Mississippi during the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer – a time in which people were being murdered for engaging in voter registration efforts among black communities in the state – listening to people claim that legal black voter participation in a Republican primary is a step backward in the state’s race relations.

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