Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber attends Mountain Moral Monday 2014 at Pack Square Park on August 4, 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo by Alicia Funderburk/Getty Images)

Rev. William Barber Says GOP Voter Suppression the 'Real Hacking' of US Democracy

"We would not be having this healthcare deconstruction if we had the Voting Rights Act!"

Jake Johnson

In an effort to bring national attention to "homegrown voter suppression" and to launch a campaign of "moral resistance" against Republican attempts to strip healthcare from millions, Rev. William J. Barber and other faith leaders marched in Washington on Friday just ahead of the anniversary of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Writing for NBC News prior to the march, Barber—a member of the NAACP national board of directors and a key figure in the successful effort to overturn North Carolina's racially gerrymandered districts—argued that absent deliberate efforts by Republican lawmakers to prevent minorities from voting, a Donald Trump victory "would have never been possible."

He continued:

If Trump operatives colluded with Russian agents to hack the 2016 election, they did not do so because their opposition was weak, but because they knew the majority of Americans opposed their policies.

The same is true of the domestic assault on democracy that we have experienced in North Carolina. Extremists didn't hack our elections because the fusion coalition that demonstrated its political power in 2008 was weak. They attacked us because we are strong.

The only way to combat the right-wing attack on voting rights, Barber concluded, is to "build a multiracial, multicultural, multigenerational coalition committed to the common good and a democracy that works for all. This is the kind of resistance that can transform the politics that make Trump possible."

Barber reiterated these views on Friday, calling on everyone to "stand up, march, and fight against systemic racism."

Watch part of the march:

Speaking just steps from the Supreme Court, Barber said only a "real shift in our moral narrative" would make systemic change possible, given the strength of those bent on rolling back the victories of the civil rights era.

"Since June 25, 2013 [the day the Supreme Court rendered ineffectual a key provision of the Voting Rights Act] we have had hundreds of voter suppression laws," he said. "According to the Brennan Center, 99 just this year since May."

Barber went on to lament that it is in some cases easier to obtain a gun in the United States than it is to vote, due to the imposition of strict voter ID laws.

"Healthcare is a human right. Period."
—Rev. William J. Barber
Despite recent signs that the Supreme Court is beginning to take seriously unconstitutional racial gerrymandering and vote suppression, Barber said the issue of voting rights remains "the key issue of our time."

"For nearly four years, the leadership of the Senate and the House have not brought forward one bill to fully restore the Voting Rights Act," said Barber said. "This is the real hacking of our democracy; the real hacking of our election system."

Highlighting Republican attempts to dismantle what is left of the social safety net and strip healthcare from millions, Barber argued that none of this would be possible if the Voting Rights Act remained fully intact.

In an interview with Vox's Jeff Stein, published on Friday as the march commenced, Barber said the GOP's attempt to repeal Obamacare in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy lays bare the "deep immorality we have in this country right now."

To fight back, Barber concluded, it is essential to press for ambitious alternatives.

"We try to argue defensively rather than offensively too often," he said. "We're so ready to move into compromise [mode] before we allow the people understand the real moral and political issue is. Which should be: Healthcare is a human right. Period."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Now We're Talking!' Says AOC as Biden Backs Filibuster Carveout for Abortion Rights

"Time for people to see a real, forceful push for it," said the New York Democrat. "Use the bully pulpit. We need more."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo