The race card is real. But it depends on who uses it for what purpose. Local case in point:
Ten days ago, Dallas County Republicans sued in Judge Eric Moyé’s 14th District Court to get 128 Democratic candidates kicked off a March election ballot because, according to the Republicans, there was a glitch in the Democratic paperwork. No surprise, the Democrats have been fighting back with more than eight court filings, depending on how you count.
Here is what strikes me as I peruse the filings. The black people who have filed responses to the Republican suit have cited all of these reasons why the judge should toss the Republican suit. The reasons sound compelling to me.
I mean, I guess they’re compelling. I’m not a lawyer. I thought the original Republican suit sounded compelling, too. Everybody on both sides sounds compelling to my layman’s ear, with one exception:
The only person in the deal who plays the race card in her filing is the white lady who either did or did not screw up the paperwork in the first place. Carol Donovan, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, claims in her response to the Republican lawsuit that the Republicans are trying to “use publicity concerning this frivolous lawsuit to confuse voters in the hope of disenfranchising minority voters and deny Dallas County citizens the right to vote for the candidates of their choice.”
The Republican lawsuit claims Donovan either didn’t sign all of the paperwork sent to the Texas Secretary of State to get these 128 candidates on the ballot for the March election or that there may be something fishy about her signature. It’s a very technical King’s X argument: Republicans are claiming the law says Donovan must sign each candidate’s application to be put on the ballot, so if there’s something wrong with her signature, the candidates can’t be on the ballot.
State Sen. Royce West, who is black, was first to court with his response. He says the person who filed the Republican suit is not in a position under the law to file the suit; the deadline for passing such a suit passed before it was filed. In later filings, West argues that state law does not require the county chair’s signature as claimed by Republicans and that Republicans have failed, anyway, to ascertain whether Donovan may have authorized someone else to sign for her.
State Rep. Eric Johnson, who is black, argues in his response that Republicans deliberately sued the party, not the individual candidates, in order to do candidates like him out of their ability to respond as individuals.
And there’s a bunch of other stuff. So now it’s time for me to present you with my expert legal analysis of all of these arguments on both sides, right? Nah, I don’t think so. I could do better with my expert opinion on life on other planets. I just want to go back to my original point about the race card.
As long as I have been in Dallas — since before you were born and maybe before your dad was born — the Dallas County Democratic Party has been in the hands of this same gang of old white people. Yes. I am an old white person as well. Many of my best friends are old white people. Both of them, in fact. I have nothing against old white people.
I simply do not at all get why the hierarchy of the county Democratic Party doesn’t look more like the county. There are real intellectual rockets in the party who are neither old nor white. Minority voters are most of the reason this county is blue. So I don’t understand why the party still looks the way it does.
I do get why the Dallas County Republican Party looks the way it does. Maybe let’s talk about that another day because I don’t want to get a headache this early in the day.
Here’s my only thing. As I said at the top, I believe in the race card. In fact, no single social or political or economic factor in our society is more powerful or central or disruptive than race.
I just think it’s unseemly, somehow, for white people to play the race card to cover their own goof-ups. How about sitting back to see what Royce West says? Hey, here comes Eric Johnson; he’s really smart, and he’s African-American, so let’s see if he brings it up? All I’m saying, and it’s a message mainly to my fellow old white people, is let’s keep our fingers off that trigger every little chance we get because of how it looks when we do pull the trigger.
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Come on. You know how it looks, and that’s not just a local thing. We don’t want to look like a bunch of tired, old, burned-out white liberals trying to exploit minority votes and minority grievances because we don’t have anything new to say for ourselves.
Is it that we’re worried the black people and the Hispanics may not think of it? When they get legitimately screwed on a real racial issue, is there some evidence that they won’t notice? I think they do pretty well on that score, do they not?
Nothing wrong with sympathy and support. I’m all for that. But then here’s the thing. When you are white and you are the person accused of screwing up the paperwork, that is really not the time to get into sympathy and support for minorities. It’s just bad form. Say something about your signature, instead. If you’re still dead certain it’s a race thing, go ask Royce West to bring it up for you and see what he says.