Law Professor Calls for Counting Black Votes Double from This Point Forward

Law Professor Calls for Counting Black Votes Double from
This Point Forward 1

You know you’ve penned a winner of a column when you’re driven off of Twitter because of it.

And we’re not even talking about a conservative column. Brandon Hasbrouck, an assistant professor of law at Washington and Lee University, was writing in The Nation — the official publication of 10 out of 10 people who still think Sen. Bernie Sanders should be our next president. He certainly wasn’t bucking any trends or pushing conservatism on the left.

Instead, he had a modest proposal in an article published Dec. 17 about how to make reparations work: have every black vote count double.

You’ve heard the preamble to Hasbrouck’s argument a million times, so let me provide you with a summation: Black Americans have suffered historical injustices, the Electoral College is biased against people of color because states such as Wyoming (which is overwhelmingly white) still get electoral votes despite the fact they have low populations, which means “white votes currently count more than Black ones” — and because of this, “Black communities receive substandard education, and politicians are free to appoint judges who sanction mass incarceration, abusive policing, and electoral disenfranchisement.”

Furthermore, the Electoral College is racist because it was set up, in part, to balance regional interests at a time when regional interests involved (yes) slavery.

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More than two centuries on, it still balances regional interests — and Wyoming being relatively free of slaves these days, it’s easy to look askance at this argument. However, Hasbrouck whisks us past the details and says abolishing the Electoral College would be one way to ensure “ballots cast by Black voters — or any voters, for that matter — would count the same.”

“But,” he wrote, “there’s another way to undo the damage of the Electoral College and other structurally racist political institutions: We can implement vote reparations by double-counting ballots cast by all Black residents.

“The poisonous legacy of slavery applies to Black people regardless of when we or our ancestors arrived in this country. Vote reparations should also extend to Native Americans. Slavery is rightly called America’s original sin, but so too was the United States’ genocidal seizure of land from its original inhabitants.

“Various legal forms of disenfranchisement have applied to them. It wasn’t until 1962 that all Native Americans were allowed to vote, and even then they faced — and still face — electoral obstacles. These are not the only examples of American oppression; we should include in vote reparations others who have suffered similar disenfranchisement.”

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Please be advised that no practical considerations on implementing this are entertained anywhere in this article.

Nor did they need to be, mind you — this is more of a thinkpiece for people who aren’t thinking very hard — but I’d be curious how this would be brought about. After all, allowing someone’s vote to count more than someone else’s would be unconstitutional, so I would assume this would require some kind of amendment — one that would only get passed if the left managed to reanimate the embalmed corpse of Abraham Lincoln, have him do a little jig on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then tell us all in a televised address that this was the only way forward as a people. Even then, I’d give it a 50-50 shot at best.

As for reparations, this would solve the messy problem of redistributive reparations by giving black Americans the ability to vote in people who would, assumedly, give minority-centric communities redistributive reparations. This, again, wasn’t considered very thoroughly.

“One of the largest objections to monetary reparations is the impracticality of implementing them on a scale that would meaningfully address the injustices. Vote reparations, in contrast, would be a simple, low-cost way to begin to make amends,” Hasbrouck wrote.

“Vote reparations would create possibilities to build what W.E.B. Du Bois called ‘abolition democracy,’ or the practice of achieving a racially just society. Abolition democracy invites us to engage with abolition not as a finite goal but as a radical process of challenging injustices wherever and in whatever form they might appear,” he continued.

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“Vote reparations would empower us to replace oppressive institutions with life-affirming structures of economic, social, and political equality. And if our elected representatives did not prioritize this transformational work, we could vote them out.”

I suppose this is a thought experiment more than anything else, but Hasbrouck’s prose seems to indicate he lives in a bubble where this is just plain common sense, yet historical iniquity and a horde of white supremacists gathered somewhere way over yonder is stopping it from happening.

In closing, Hasbrouck seems to acknowledge this unwashed conservative rabblement may indeed throw a wrench into the works, making “vote reparations” something of a pipe dream.

“Even if vote reparations aren’t instituted, Black voters will keep tirelessly dragging our states toward a more perfect union,” he concludes. “But just imagine our country if our votes counted twice.”

Yes — because that’d pour oil on the troubled waters of American race relations and smooth things out:

Hasbrouck, as previously mentioned, has removed himself from Twitter:

It’s unclear what prompted this, although Hasbrouck previously highlighted racist criticism he received from a piece he published in The Washington Post suggesting the names of George Washington and Robert E. Lee be taken off of the school at which he’s currently employed, saying both men perpetrated “racial terror,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

Bigotry is nothing more than the calling card of the terminally sick and cowardly, but the premises of both pieces were fatuous, and Hasbrouck’s double-vote piece was so poorly defended as to qualify as little more than a deliberate provocation, something that generates plenty of heat but no light.

Not only is his proposal antithetical to any possible democratic norm one can imagine, but the argument behind it boils down to this: “White people in those states I don’t like don’t vote the way I want them to, so giving black people double votes fixes that.”

It’s arrant racism, and it would break so many other moving parts in our fractured national culture — but it would give Hasbrouck the electoral results he desires. And that’s what counts, right?

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