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The South Has Been at Civil War for 150 Years

The film Lincoln ends after the Amendment that ended slavery throughout the nation passed. But for blacks, earning the rights of citizenship was to prove a much more protracted war.

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Until l988 the maximum prison sentence for possession of any amount of any drug was one year. The 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act imposed dramatically longer mandatory sentences. In 1994 Bill Clinton upped the ante, sending a $30 billion crime bill to Congress and embracing a “one strike and you’re out” policy in which authorities could evict any public housing tenant if a family member allows any form of drug related activity to occur in or near public housing. Congress imposed a lifetime ban on eligibility for welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense, even simple possession of marijuana. Students could become ineligible for loans if convicted of a drug offense.

From l980 to 2000 the number of people in prisons or jails soared from 300,000 to more than 2 million. 
Two thirds of the rise in the federal inmate population and more than half of the rise in state prisoners was for drug offenses. And as of 2005 as much as 80 percent of drug arrests were for possession.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2000 that in seven states African Americans constituted 80-90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison. In at least l5 states blacks were admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate of 20-57 times greater than white men even though the majority of illegal drug users and dealers are white.

By the end of 2007 more than 7 million American were behind bars, on probation or parole. Less than two decades after war on drugs began 1 in 7 black men nationally have lost the right to vote and as many as one in four in some states. As legal scholar Pamela Karlan has observed, “felony disenfranchisement has decimated the potential black electorate”.

The Supreme Court once again refused to enforce the Constitution by deciding in case after case that clear statistical evidence of racial bias in arrests or jury selection or judicial verdicts was not enough. The complainant had to prove intent.

Following the 2000 election, it was widely reported that had the 600,000 people convicted of felonies who had completed their sentences in Florida been allowed to vote Al Gore would have easily won the state and the presidency.

In 2008 a black man was elected President and re-elected in 2012. In 2012 more than 70 percent of Latinos and over 90 percent of blacks voted for Obama. Outside of the South he won about 45 percent of the white vote. But in the South he received, on average, only about 20 percent and only 10 percent in Mississippi and Alabama.

The Struggle Continues

Indeed, despite Obama’s re-election and Democrats’ gains in other states, the Republican control of the South tightened. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans took over the Arkansas legislature, and won the state’s last U.S. House seat held by a Democrat. North Carolina elected a Republican governor and Republicans gained three more Congressional seats. The last Democrat in a statewide office in Alabama was defeated.

In most Southern states, the margins of victory for Mitt Romney were even larger than the lopsided margins for John McCain four years ago. New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson observed, “The racial and partisan divide is nearly absolute in the Deep South, with a Democratic Party that is almost entirely black and a Republican Party that is almost entirely white.”

Within two weeks of the election the Daily Caller reported, “Petitions (for secession) from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Caroline, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.” Texas Representative Ron Paul, Former Republican president candidate, lauded the petitions, declaring, “secession is a deeply American principle.”

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