The big news today is, of course, President Trump putting the screws to Georgia election officials in an effort to overturn his massive, huge, embarrassing loss to Sleepy Joe Biden. As he may have finally committed a big-boy crime, that story assuredly deserves the headlines it’s receiving. But spare a moment for Ted Cruz, too. He deserves some attention for his most recent skullduggery.
Yesterday, the preternaturally icky Junior Senator from Texas wrote a letter for the full Sedition Caucus, suggesting that we resolve the “disputed” election of 2020, by creating a committee based on the one that drafted the Compromise of 1877.
That committee was formed in the wake of the 1876 Presidential Election after several states — specifically Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina — had multiple slates of electors submitted to Congress for the counting.
The fundamental issue at hand in the election was that black voters in those states actually showed up in droves at the polls despite lynching campaigns, massacres, threats of assassination against Republican leaders, and acts of remarkably violent terrorism. In Florida, the Ku Klux Klan even wrecked a train carrying Republican political operatives in an effort to undermine the counting of black votes from a rural county.
The threat of violence from the right-wing, racist, genocidal sociopaths in the Democratic Party continuing after the election of 1876, convinced enough elected officials in Washington to try and broker a backroom deal. And THAT’s what got us the Compromise of 1877, not any serious look into allegations of voter fraud, for fuck’s sake.
If that commission actually wanted to find evidence of voter suppression or election rigging, they could have pretty easily called up any number of the surviving Black servicemen of the South Carolina National Guard who were set upon in the Hamburg Massacre by a 100 well-armed white men in the previous summer. That attack, also known as the Red-Shirt Massacre was organized to send a message about what would happen to anyone who attempted to manifest black enfranchisement.
The mob captured, tortured, and murdered four guardsmen. Though arrested, none of the perpetrators were ever prosecuted. They were, however, publicly known and could have made the short hop, skip, and jump to DC if the commission was actually vested in their supposed mission to defend democracy. But, of course, they weren’t.
And they sure as hell wouldn’t be now if such a commission were chartered, either.
Since Ted Cruz has suggested one, we need to be clear: The commission that drafted the Compromise of 1877 was forced into existence through the threat of violence on the street, and the wages for ending that violence were stark: White Northerners needed to give up on Black liberation and enfranchisement in the South. There was no fidelity to law, decency, or Constitutionality with that commission. It was forced upon a war-weary nation in a pure power play by racists and terrorists.
Once empaneled, the commission was entirely white and of the landed gentry, and its “compromises” were reached with the interests only of the white, landed gentry in mind. They wanted peace, and it would be purchased by letting those brave Black voters of the south swing.
The deal, in the end, was simple: The Republican Party, now pretty much neutered, was allowed to keep the Presidency for their candidate Rutherford B. Hayes. For their part, the Democrats and the Klan agreed to stand down on threats of political violence once Federal troops were pulled from the former Confederacy, causing all the progress made by Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau to collapse back into sharecropping, Jim Crow, and what turned out to another full century of state-sanctioned, racist terror.
I hate Donald Trump as much as any sentient being, and it is undeniably right to focus our attention today on his blatant efforts to overturn democracy for his own putrid self-interest. But I beg you once again to spare a single moment this evening for the express loathing of Senator Rafael Edward Cruz, the smooth-talking, worm-souled humanoid from Texas who just suggested we base our future on a plan that literally brought a century of racist violence down on the heads of black folk, simply because some of them were brave enough to believe that America would have their back when push came to shove.
May God feed his soul to the Devil by hand.