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Opinion: Republican Rage and a Three-Fifths Presidency

by Danielle Moodie-Mills /
Image: U.S. President Obama announces Judge Garland as Supreme Court nominee at the White House in Washington
President Barack Obama announces Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, March 16, 2016. KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention both the northern and southern states convened to decide how representation in the United States House of Representatives would be counted. It was during this political battle that southern states proposed that African slaves be counted in the overall population of a state giving southern states an obvious advantage in the House.

Northern states that were opposed to the dehumanizing practice of slavery argued that because slaves could not vote, only free people in these states should be counted. The contention between the southern and northern states was solved with the “Three Fifths Compromise,” which asserted that the counting of “all other persons” would commence at three-fifths, which would allow for the northern states to compete in the House with the slave dense populations of the South.

This designation of African slaves as not being “whole people” or full humans deserving of personhood, dignity and respect would linger far past the civil war and the subsequent emancipation of slaves, some 78 years after the Constitutional Convention in 1865.

This ingrained ideology of anti-blackness would become an active part of the Radical Republican’s desire to reconstruct the South and enfranchise freed black people. During this fleeting time, known as the Reconstruction Era, between 1865-1877 enforcement acts were proposed as a way to punish the Confederacy while simultaneously elevating black Americans from the degradation of slavery into full citizenship.

After the collapse of reconstruction at the behest of southern politicians and the malaise of northern support, the South became poverty stricken—doubling down on their connection to an agriculture economy, utilizing intimidation and violence to maintain their hold over of black Americans as their dominant means of production.

Why does this history matter 229 years removed from the Constitutional Convention when it was decided that African slaves weren’t full people?

This strategic indifference as a way to manipulate the political landscape to your party’s favor is exactly the game that modern day Republicans are playing today with our nation’s first African-American President.

From day one of the Obama Administration, the Republican Establishment has worked tirelessly to make his presidency illegitimate in the eyes of the American people.

From day one of the Obama Administration, the Republican Establishment has worked tirelessly to make his presidency illegitimate in the eyes of the American people. The birther movement nearly co-opted the first 100 days of President Obama’s Administration by aggressively questioning his citizenship. In their eyes, there was no way that this black man could possibly be a real citizen with legitimate claims to the highest office and the White House his enslaved ancestors built.

This warped and race induced ideology was formed centuries before a black First Family would enter the White House. The creation of white supremacy and dominance is the tree from which the current poisoned fruit known commonly as present-day Republicanism has formed.

Republican’s current behavior towards not only our President; but America, is not only despicable but also treasonous—Treason being defined by many things, including: betraying and causing injury to the nation.

To be fair, Republicans haven’t taken up arms and threatened secession but their acts of obstruction nearly caused another great depression not to mention their constant efforts to kick 17 million Americans off of health care, gerrymandering congressional districts with high populations of people of color to suppress their votes and their voices, to name a few instances.

Now, they have decided that regardless of the reality that President Obama remains president until January 20, 2017, that he no longer possesses the authority to act as such, namely nominating a Supreme Court Justice. As lovers of the constitution, it would be fantastic if they would point our president, the constitutional law professor, and the rest of America to the Article and Section of the constitution that says black Presidents only receive three-fifths of their final term in office.

It has been clear for quite some time that Republicans are no longer operating off of logic, just look at the gaggle vying for the presidency—their top two candidates are people that have either outright incited violence against “otherness” or subtly alluded to the fact that Americans who are not white, male, cis-gender, Christian fundamentalists don’t actually matter and aren’t reflective of America or entitled to its protections under said document they love to tout.

Contrary to Republican leaders calls to “let people have their say” as it pertains to the current Supreme Court nominee, I’ll paraphrase Senator Elizabeth Warren—the American people HAD their say on the state of the Supreme Court when they voted for President Obama—TWICE.

President Obama isn’t three-fifths of a president nor should he be treated as one, but I am starting to wonder whether or not Republicans have 100 percent use of their faculties or if the disease of racism has corroded a majority of what is left of their minds.

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