The U.S. political system has been partial to right-wing politicians and related causes, in part, due to their larger bank accounts and organizations they support which promote voter suppression. At least that’s the notion proposed in the film “Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook.”
Two screenings of the film took place recently at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference.
The film’s narrator, actor Jeffrey Wright, talked about how right-wing Republicans, incensed by the election of Barack Obama as the first Black president and the increasing voting power of minorities, led them to initiate a strategy that would offset such progress. One example, he says, remains the unfettered support from the billionaire Koch brothers. The film focused on political activity from 2009-2016, ending with the successful election of Donald Trump as president.
Wright says “Rigged” should put Americans of all races on notice that democracy as we know it may be in trouble.
“This is a story that needs to be told and heard,” he said. “I was eager to play a part in telling it and I hope ‘Rigged’ sounds an alarm that wakes America up.”
The film shows how state legislatures passed voter ID laws aimed at curbing the voting rights of minorities, college students and senior citizens.
One segment illustrates how a Texas sheriff incarcerated a returning citizen of color for voting when he shouldn’t have while another reveals a plan to water down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which mandates states with a history of racist electoral practices to have their election laws and procedures cleared by the Department of Justice.
Racial gerrymandering became another more common practice, the film suggests – that is, how Republicans in some states “pack” minority neighborhoods into districts to lessen their influence and “crack” which puts neighborhoods of color in overwhelming-white areas where they will have little or no political power. One scene even shows Trump as he asserts that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 – something that remains unsubstantiated.
The film concludes with efforts to place more right-wing judges at the helm of federal courts where they can influence the law through their interpretation of legislation for decades to come.
During the film, the viewpoints of civil rights and conservative activists also come to light, even showcasing legislators and activists stating without hesitancy their intention to curtail the minority vote.
Mac Heller, co-executive producer of “Rigged,” encouraged the audience at the second screening to “to run this film in [their] community.”
“The price you charge for using the film is zero,” Heller said. “Our film is about storytelling and how the right wing has taken over our politics. They’ve got the money but we have the people on our side. Many Americans who see this film say what they are doing is shameful and that it’s not American.”