October 25, 2013
N.C. Republican Party official forced out over racist-but-candid remarks
“Stop making our state the subject of The Daily Show” was a popular sign at Moral Monday rallies last summer. A cringe-worthy segment from an episode this week is a prime example of how that is still a problem for North Carolina.
Don Yelton, a member of the North Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee, appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and dispensed with his party leaders’ usual defense of the new law, excitedly telling correspondent Aasif Mandvi that, “The law is going to kick Democrats in the butt.”
“If it hurts a bunch of college kids that’s (sic) too lazy to get off their bohunkus and get a photo ID, so be it. If it hurts the whites, so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants (sic) the government to give them everything, so be it.“
Governor McCrory has defended H.589, the omnibus elections changes he signed into law last summer as “common sense legislation” and characterized the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina over the voting law as an “overreach and without merit.”
Yelton was forced to resign his post on Thursday for his offensively candid defense of their “Voter ID” bill. Yelton said he does not regret his comments, telling Asheville radio station WWNC that his party is “mealy-mouthed” and “gutless” for punishing him.
“Finally someone in the North Carolina Republican Party had the temerity to tell the truth about their Monster Anti-Voting law,” said state AFL-CIO President James Andrews.
“It is time for Governor McCrory, Speaker Tillis, and Senator Berger to come clean with North Carolina working families and admit they don’t want to be held accountable by students, seniors, workers, or people of color for having pursued an immoral agenda that puts profits over people and trades pragmatic progressivism for Tea Party extremism.”
Did Yelton say what GOP lawmakers are thinking?
Yelton’s terminology aside, the rationale he spouts in support of voter suppression in North Carolina sounds a lot like what we have heard from other North Carolina Republican leaders, says Brentin Mock, writing for Facing South:
Yelton’s remarks about needing to fight voter fraud while admitting it was scarce reflect what Republican lawmakers have been saying to justify the law. Other Republican leaders may not have used Yelton’s terminology about “lazy blacks” and college students not deserving to vote, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he has evidence that Republican legislators intentionally set up the voter ID law to discriminate against black voters, joining three other lawsuits that make the same claim.
After “African-American voters dramatically increased their participation rates across the state,” Holder said in announcing the federal suit, “the state legislature took aggressive steps to curtail the voting rights of African Americans.”
Yelton’s comments about black and student voters, voter fraud and kicking “the Democrats in the butt” are also in line with the work of the Civitas Institute, the conservative think tank founded and largely funded by North Carolina’s Republican mega-donor and state budget director Art Pope, which helped build public support for the elections bill. One of the consequences of Civitas’ crusade against nonexistent voter fraud is that black college students have been purged from voter rolls and faced challenges to their right to vote and run for office where they live and go to school.
Yelton’s remarks are also in line with what was said during state Senate hearings in April, when dozens of GOP county representatives testified in favor of the legislation. Jonathan Bandy of the N.C. Federation of Young Professional Republicans said voter ID laws weren’t racist but claimed that racism is “the notion that an African-American and an Hispanic voter who don’t have an ID are incapable of getting one” — ignoring the fact that the law creates additional barriers for voters of color given that they are more likely than white voters to lack the ID needed to vote.
Art Wilson, an at-large committee member for the Wake County Republican Party asked at the hearing, “So what if casting your vote becomes a little more difficult?”