Alex Blaze

Todd Rokita should not be Secretary of State

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 18, 2007 2:03 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: election campaigns, Republicans, secretary of state, Todd Rokita, Washington Conservative Club

I'm a little behind on things that I've been wanting to post about, and here's one of them.

IN Secretary of State Todd Rokita this past Thursday made a comment at a Republican event that raised quite a few Hoosier eyebrows. When discussing how African Americans generally vote Democratic, he said:

"How can that be?" Rokita said. "90 to 10. Who's the master and who's the slave in that relationship?"
Looking past the fact that his analogy is silly and trivializing of this country's history of slavery in saying that African Americans exercising the right to vote is the same as slavery itself (others have already responded to that aspect of it), and look at the fact that we have the Secretary of State, the head honcho in terms of voting here in Indiana, saying that he doesn't like the way a certain group of people is voting. This is supposed to be the final arbitor of elections who makes sure that everyone who's supposed to be enfranchised is and to make sure that laws are applied in a non-partisan fashion to promote democracy for everyone, Black or white, Republican or Democrat. And yet he's at a clearly partisan event (the Washington Conservative Club) saying that he's oh so bothered by the way that a group of people is voting. (continued after the jump)

Let's also not beat around the bush here. Todd Rokita has quite the history of being against democracy and in favor of the GOP. While it's totally OK to work for a political party, it should not be OK to then take up a job that's supposed to be about fairness in elections. That's like having an umpire in a baseball game who has wagered $2000 on one of the teams, and everyone knows it. It's like a divorce being ruled on by a judge who's the mother of one of the soon-to-be divorcees. Would either of those situations make sense? Absolutely not.

So it doesn't make any sense at all that our democracy is in the hands of someone who just last Saturday made statements like these:

"You can do a lot of powerful things as a team and one of those things is win," Rokita said. "And we win when we run as a team."
He challenged local Republicans not to accept the status quo, but to be true leaders, like President George W. Bush and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels because they were not afraid to make the tough decisions while in office.

"Everyone of these men and women (candidates) that stood up tonight and briefly said what they are about and asked for your vote, they deserve our applause simply for that and they deserve our inspection," Rokita said. "Because they are true leaders."

"It is Republicans under God that will save this country if it is to be saved."
What an objective observer can take from those statements, along with the slavery comment, is that Todd Rokita has a problem with Blacks, liberals, and non-religious people voting, that he has strong opinions on what the outcomes of specific elections that he has overseen should be (by specifically mentioning Bush and Daniels), and that he considers himself on the Republican team first, the Hoosier team second.

How much more clear can he make his disdain for the responsibilities of his office?

It's long past time that the office of the Secretary of State became nonpartisan. An election in another country that were run by partisan officals would not be regarded as legitimate by the US, nor should it be. Todd Rokita is just the tip of the iceberg, and if we truly believe in democracy and free elections, then we'll make sure that these officals can't be members of a political party, can't raise money for a political party or a candidate, and can't stump for a party or a candidate either. The umpire or judge mentioned above would have the decency in the real world of recusing themselves or being recused before they could make judgments that even have the hint of being self-serving. It looks like the people of Indiana are going to have to do that for Todd Rokita.

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Credit belongs to Advance Indiana too for breaking this story wide open. Kudos to Gary!

David Wene | April 18, 2007 4:37 PM

First, every position in government is political. If the Secretary of State were not elected, they would be appointed by someone who was. So there is always going to be a political slant to everything. Our Judicial System has been designed to try to limit political influence as much as possible and it is still pretty political.

Second, just because someone is political, does not mean they are a threat to democracy. Bil Browning and Chris Douglas have opposite political views. If they were running for Secretary of State, I might prefer one over the other, but would not conclude that democracy has ended because the one I prefer lost. I attended a Stonewall event that the late Governor O'Bannon attended. Maybe I was wrong but I did not assume that just because he was a Democrat, and he went to a Democratic event that obviously he could not fairly govern the entire state.

Third, from what I have heard from Rokita's speech, he was not saying that the African-American community has voted wrong, but this is a block of voters that the Republican Party should be working at getting. (He does deserve the criticism over his word choice.)

You know, Dave, this might be a first politically. We agree. :)

I agree with you that the Sec of State office would be political no matter what just as the judicial process is today. And I know you'd choose me for Sec of State because of my winning smile. *grins*

But I disagree that Rokita's point was simply that Republicans should be courting the African-American vote. Instead, Rokita's version made it out to be that they were too stupid to know which side their bread was really buttered on. Kinda that whole "So what if I hit you once and broke your nose? Look at all the presents I gave you first!" Simply put, the Republican outreach to the AA community has been dismal. His remark, coming at the end of a speech castigating the community for voting Democratic, could only be taken as an insult. So, word choice? No, it's a little bigger than that.

Do I think he should lose his job? No. But he damn well outta think first next time before he spouts off shit he doesn't really understand. See Gary's piece dissecting the Republican civil right timeline as an example.


Since I know both of you, it would be difficult so I would vote Libertarian and use the rationale that you both would do a go job so I wanted to help make sure the Libertarian Party got on the ballot.

I reread Gary's comments and I still do not see the indication that he is saying the African-American community is stupid for voting Democratic.

I do agree that Rokita seems to get a lot of history wrong and seems to omit some very important things that would cause the African-American community not to vote Republican--in large numbers. So I would agree he needs to relook at history. But at one time Republicans did do some good things and in the South, the Democrats did do some bad things so the African-American did vote Republican for awhile. So what I read into the speech (and I have heard other Republicans, even African American Republicans say) is that the African-American vote does not have to be 90-10 for the Democrats and if it is going to change then Republicans need to do something about it. (Unfortunately I think too many Republican Politicians are "too white" that it taints the whole party and will take awhile before that ratio changes very much.)

Let me put the slave/master image to our community. Slaves do not have a choice. Most LGBT people do not think they have a political choice. (and in many elections that is very true) Masters are in control. The Democratic Party can see how homophobic the Republican Party appears so they assume we have no choice but to be beholding to them. So instead of giving us equal rights, they make us a part of their organization and remind us how bad the Republicans are. So even though we do not have equality at least we are not being beat by the Republicans.

Before I get crucified, I want to say politics and leadership involve a whole lot more and reality is not this simplistic. Also our community is not very monolithic on anything. But I do think there is some of this in the bigger political picture.

A similar idea is expressed by fundamentalist Christians about the Republican Party. There is no way they would vote Democratic. They feel like they brought the Republicans to power and now the Republicans are not always selecting their candidates. They feel somewhat trapped.

He will be speaking at the Washington Township GOP meeting this month at their Lincoln dinner so it will be interesting to see what he says.

I'm not saying that he should lose his job b/c of his comments there. I'm just saying that if you look at his history and the comments he made there, you'll see a pattern of someone who really doesn't like democracy. His comments, with the absolute paranoia about how liberals control the media and everything doesn't assure me that he can make impartial decisions about how elections are run. Add to that the religious sentiment expressed in "Republicans under God" shows that he actually thinks that Republicans are doing God's work. Which will triumph in his office, God's law or man's law?

You add to that the fact that he led the charge for the most stringent anti-voter fraud law in the country for Indiana, which will disenfranschise more people than it has prevented voter fraud (see the Indy Star link above). And guess what? The people disenfranchised will be from safe Democratic constituencies, of course.

Look around the country, this problem's a lot bigger than Indiana. From the most famous instance of Florida GOP sec. of state Katherine Harris validating elections results for GWB one week before 20K votes were found, to the Wisconsin GOP sec of state not issuing enough paper ballots in Milwaukee county, the county in that state with the largest African American community, to the terrible lines that we saw in Ohio in Black neighborhoods that were there till the wee hours of the morning (I wonder how many people just said fuck it and went home?), to a Warren County, OH, GOP election official who claimed that there was enough of a possible terror threat to prevent anyone from the media from watching the votes counted.

So, no, they shouldn't be partisan. I know that on some level everyone's political, but is Todd Rokita the most fair and balanced Hoosier that we can find?

Seriously, someone who thinks that his political ideology is more important than democracy should simply not be in charge of elections. We wouldn't accept it in a third-world country, and we shouldn't accept it for our own.

It's Not New For Todd | April 19, 2007 8:14 AM

I posted this one another site a couple of days ago, but here goes:

Todd spoke almost the exact same words a year or so ago at a northern Indiana GOP event. A friend of mine was there. My friend said there had been several applause lines before the comment, but after the comment was made, there was dead silence. People were stunned. Todd moved on quickly and bashed Bart Peterson's power-grab of township government as a stepping stone to the governor's chair. Seriously.

David, you're a jewel for trying, but let this idiot carry his own water. How he got through high school, let alone two advanced degrees, is beyond me. He's clearly a history revisionist. It is not his first time to rewrite history and try to make a point through gross mis-statements.

Washington Township Republican Club...that's rich. Like anyone there would chastise Todd for these ridiculuos comments. Will the invocation be delivered by Bradford or Schneider? Both paragons of intellegence and virtue.