I have often said that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is the “voice of truth” for many independent, centrists and moderate voters and for that species of Republican called the “moderate Republican” or even the “center-right Republican” — a species vanishing as surely as the animal rhino and the elephants are poised to exit the earth. In business trip from September 2011 – May 2012 I drove 49,000 miles around the country and often met people who’d say they are usually where Powell is. Now Powell has a new warning for his party: the GOP’s drive in many states to implement often draconian voter ID laws will backfire.
“These kinds of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote I think are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to to vote, and I encourage that,” Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Following the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like Texas and North Carolina are advancing legislation that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls.
“They claim that there’s widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing substantiates that,” Powell said. “There isn’t widespread abuse.”
Many conservatives dislike and distrust Powell since he has been highly critical of his party as the influence of the Tea Party, social conservatives and talk radio show hosts began to be widely felt. This is not the same brand of conservatism that marked the terms of either of the George Bushes. And, in criticizing his party, Powell often seems to pick the correct moment, where his comments echo the views of many other Americans. Unlike Arizona Sen.John McCain, he’s not a virtual regular on Sunday morning or early morning news shows, so when he does weigh in, his comments carry extra weight — even as they are dismissed by many conservatives.
And he does again when he talks about the effort by many Republicans and GOP legislators to in effect suppress the votes of groups that are less likely to vote Republican.
He said the GOP’s moves on voting access would in particular damage the party’s effort to appeal to the growing minority populations it will need to win national elections in the future. “This is not the way to do it,” Powell said.
He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.
“I would have preferred that they did not reach such a conclusion, but they did, and I can see why they reached such a conclusion,” Powell said.
Here’s the video of the segment which also includes his view on the Trayvon Martin verdict and a bit of advice to President Barack Obama on race issues:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.