Edward Blum has long been a vocal opponent of affirmative action, having worked for anti-affirmative action groups such as the Center for Equal Opportunity, the American Civil Rights Institute, and his own Campaign for a Color-Blind America (now vanished). In recent years, however, Blum has expanded his purview to another area involving opportunities for minorities: the basic right to vote.
Blum is now director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Project on Fair Representation, which was started in 2005 to oppose the renewal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the clause requiring states and localities with a history of disenfranchisement to get federal approval for any new voting regulations. Since then, Blum has come to the defense of the embattled Bush appointees to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who have come under fire for overruling career attorneys for apparently partisan reasons. Blum attacked the career attorneys as having “run amok,” and jumped to the defense of Hans von Spakovsky, the “point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights.”
Spakovsky gained his experience in voting law by engineering the purging from voter rolls of supposed felons; indeed, he was a board member of a group involved in the 2000 purge in Florida that disenfranchised thousands of legit voters. As a Justice Department appointee, Spakovsky redirected voting-rights efforts toward combating supposed fraud; his politicized tactics have caused opposition to his subsequent nomination to the Federal Election Commission.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has spoken out against Spakovsky’s appointment to the FEC, emphasizing the importance of protecting the right to vote in light of ongoing attempts at suppression, particularly aimed at minorities. Which leads us back to Edward Blum, Spakovsky’s defender, who paints his man as a hero fighting against “liberal staffers” whose efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act were supposedly making the voting section “an arm of the ALCU.”
Earlier this year, musing at length about Obama’s racial identity, Blum expressed hope that the candidate would come out against affirmative action. But now Blum is attacking Obama for “either a complete ignorance of Voting Rights Act….or a willingness to mislead the public in order to promote his civil rights bona fides.”
WHEN YOU’RE TEN points behind in the polls, less than two months away from the first presidential primaries, and African American Democrats are divided between you and the front-runner, what is the easiest way to narrow that gap?
Apparently, if you’re Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), you play the race card.
If any discussion about the documented ways in which voter ID laws unduly affect the elderly, the poor, and minorities is “playing the race card,” what do you call Blum’s career of trying to undermine policies designed to redress racial discrimination?