Eric Holder’s Justice Department has issued an edict from on high blocking the establishment of non-partisan local elections in the town of Kinston. In a referendum, the voters of Kinston voted by a 2-1 margin to establish non-partisan elections in mayoral and council races. However, the Justice Department, invoking the Civil Rights Act, has decided that such a move would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want. This is problematic on several levels.
First, Kinston’s population is over 2/3 black. In addition, black voters make up over 9000 of Kinston’s 15,000 registered voters. So the idea that the black voters in Kinston cannot elect the “candidates they want” is patently absurd on its face. Loretta King, who issued the Department’s ruling said,
Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office… the limited remaining support from white voters for a black Democratic candidate will diminish even more.
In other words, unless the candidate has a little “D” next to his name, the Department of Justice implies that the black population will be too stupid to elect him, despite overwhelming electoral majorities.
This is insulting and reveals a certain prejudice. It assumes that only the Democratic candidates will be black. It also assumes that under a non-partisan system, the voters of Kinston may accidentally vote for Republicans, which would deny the black voters their constitutional right of electing Democrats.
This situation also represents an unwarranted intervention of the federal government into local politics. The fact that the Justice Department can overrule a mandate approved by 65% of the voters is a little concerning. Of course, this sort of behavior is not unprecedented for the Obama administration. What good are local (or even state) elections and referendums if Obama and his cronies are just going to come in and overrule them? Despite lacking the constitutional authority to do so, the administration is showing an ever-growing taste for imposing its will over and above the will of the people. All racial politics aside, this intrusion of the federal government is a cause for grave concern.