In a column published at the Washington Post, Theodore R. Johnson, a career naval officer, former White House fellow and doctoral candidate in law and policy at Northeastern University, suggested giving black voters five-thirds of a vote since, he said, the nation will never approve paying trillions of dollars in reparations for slavery, an institution that hasn’t existed for some 150 years. On Sunday, Newsbusters’ Tim Graham responded sharply, calling his idea “quite absurd in practice.”
Johnson admits that “[e]ven black Americans are divided over the idea that money can compensate for the vestiges of an evil institution that ended 150 years ago,” with only 60 percent supporting reparations. And, he added, whites are opposed to the idea by about 94 percent, according to a 2014 YouGov poll.
Instead of giving money, Johnson suggested that votes cast by blacks count more than votes cast by other Americans. He suggested inverting the original three-fifths clause in the Constitution which has already been overturned. “If black Americans were once counted as three-fifths of a person, let each African American voter now count as five-thirds,” he wrote.
In his rebuttal, Graham noted that “black lobbyists never see an end to their racial advantages in ‘affirmative action,’ so why would they give up on a five-thirds system…” And, he added, “wouldn’t they then have the power to overturn any attempt to limit its term?”
Another problem would be those who, like former Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal, claim to be black despite all evidence to the contrary. How would those situations be dealt with? Johnson took a stab at that issue.
“Would a biracial voter qualify? A black immigrant?” he asked. “And what exactly is an election official to do when Rachel Dolezal shows up to claim her five-thirds vote?”
“The government shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of who gets to be black — nor flirt with archaic prescriptions such as the one-drop rule in determining a voter’s race,” he said. “The most straightforward approach would be to limit access to weighted voting to those American-born citizens who have demonstrated through government documents, such as drivers’ licenses or birth certificates, that they identify, and are identified by others, as black or African American.”
Graham called that answer “doubly absurd, considering the black Left’s absolute horror at having to produce government documents before voting.” He went on to say that “[i]t would be automatically racist to ask if every Dolezal ‘identifying’ as black gets to have an augmented vote.”
“Johnson knows this isn’t going to fly, but he wants to force some momentum toward reparations,” Graham said. The Post provided an analysis of what such a policy would have meant in the 2012 presidential election, based on Census Bureau estimates of voters and election results, assuming that 90 percent of the additional black votes would have gone to the Democrat.
According to the Post, five southern states would have gone to the Democrats while several other states would have been far out of the reach of Republicans. Moreover, the Post analysis said, Barack Obama would have received an additional 56 electoral votes if Johnson’s plan was the law. Democrats would have, in all likelihood, retained the Senate if black votes were augmented the way Johnson proposes.
“Of course, weighted-vote reparations are only slightly more politically feasible than a multi-trillion-dollar payout,” Johnson added. “But we have to consider novel approaches to racial reconciliation — including apology, forgiveness and, yes, some kind of restitution — if we are serious about ridding the nation of barriers to opportunity and overcoming the racial discrimination woven into America’s fabric. If racism is the culprit, then dismantling it requires the same tools that constructed it.”