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Trent LottBy Thomas Ball
December 11, 2002
 

Lott Must Go!

By now it is well known that incoming Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott (Racist) Mississippi recently spewed forth with his true feelings while praising fellow racist Strom Thurmond. This was followed quite appropriately by a pitiful non-apology aimed at deflecting some of the criticism he received soon after the imbecilic statement. 

The catharsis:"I want to say this about my state," Lott said last Thursday. "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it," he said to applause. "And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either." 

The apology:"A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embrace the discarded policies of the past," Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said in a statement Monday. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

Of course, this is not the first open window into the workings of Lott's hatred-obsessed mind

"In 1998 and 1999, Lott was criticized after disclosures that he had been a speaker at meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization formed to succeed the segregationist white Citizens' Councils of the 1960s. In a 1992 speech in Greenwood, Miss., Lott told CCC members: 'The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction, and our children will be the beneficiaries.'"

And just to illustrate a pattern, the New York Times reports: 

"After a fiery speech by Mr. Thurmond at a campaign rally in Mississippi for Ronald Reagan in November 1980, Mr. Lott, then a congressman, told a crowd in Jackson, 'You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today'." 

So where do we go from here? Al Gore called for him to be censured by the Senate. Daschle wimped out by saying, "[He's sure Lott wishes he could take back what he said]" - (C-Span Dec 09,2002). Even Right wing journalists Andrew Sullivan and Bill Kristol expressed outrage over such lapses in brain functioning. (Note: Sullivan also notes the unexpected turnout of African-American voters for Senator Landrieu (D) Louisiana in a run-off Senate election the day after Lott's confession.) 

Okay, so some people are letting Lott have it. Fine. My concern is how to rid our government of him and his ilk. Let's look first at the make-up of Mississippi. African-Americans account for 36.3% of Mississippi's population . Compare this to the percentage of blacks nationwide at only 12.5%. Indeed, they are a particularly powerful political force in Mississippi. So you might ask, "How could one of the states most densely populated by African-Americans produce one of the most transparent racists as a multi-term senator?" Paul Krugman suggests that suppression of the black vote is one reason: 

"Indeed, this year efforts to suppress nonwhite votes were remarkably blatant. There were those leaflets distributed in black areas of Maryland, telling people they couldn't vote unless they paid back rent; there was the fuss over alleged ballot fraud in South Dakota, clearly aimed at suppressing Native American votes. Topping it off was last Saturday's election in Louisiana, in which the Republican Party hired black youths to hold signs urging their neighbors not to vote for Mary Landrieu." 

The Fact of the matter is that African-Americans nationwide tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats (traditionally in the 85-90% range). Thus, if the black population in Mississippi were sufficiently motivated to vote and simultaneously protected from republican lies and other disenfranchisement techniques, Democrats would be unbeatable in this state and others in the south. (Those states are Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina. More on this later.) 

Tactic: Looking forward, here's what has to take place. C-Span was kind enough to put the entire "Lott's an admitted racist" debacle on videotape. The next time Lott is up for reelection, a clip of his "support for segregation" speech should be played ad nauseum in regions of the state dominated by African-Americans. The same tactic should be used within various African-American strongholds across the nation. The ad should have a tagline asking if this is the person that [the targeted voters] want determining the agenda for the US Senate and specifying that this will be the case if republicans are voted back into the senate. And don't worry about stirring up the racist white vote with this tactic either. They will vote regardless. We have to concern ourselves with motivating our base and not with the possibility of motivating the opposition's. Once again Paul Krugman remarks

"And yes, there are political implications. In the midterm elections, Democratic candidates carefully avoided doing anything to mobilize the black vote, fearing that this would just encourage turnout by rural whites. But the rural whites turned out anyway, while blacks didn't. In Louisiana, black turnout the result of a determined get-out-the-vote operation, perhaps helped by Mr. Lott's remarks was the key to Ms. Landrieu's unexpected victory. Might I suggest that this tells us something?"

In addition, If republicans refuse to take away Lott's position as Senate Majority Leader, thus implicitly showing support for Lott and his agenda (Since the Majority Leader is the primary force that sets the Senate's agenda), then that could be used in conjunction with the nationwide, anti-republican ads. And don't forget that such vitriol also tends to tip independents/undecideds in the opposite direction. 

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