Monday, February 5th, 2024
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
HERE COME THE ELECTION POLICE!
Alright all you Swifties. I have some bad news for you. When you go to the polls to vote for president on election day, no Taylor Swift hats or shirts will be allowed. This policy of cutting off poor Taylor’s paraphernalia will no doubt be in effect in a number of states across the country. Particularly in states where Republicans control elections procedures.
You see, Taylor supported President Joe Biden in 2020. Republicans are worried she will do it again. This gal has 250 million followers on Instagram. With that kind of clout, there are worries that she can direct enough voters towards the president so as to make a difference as to who wins the election. So no Taylor paraphernalia allowed in many voting locations.
And if you are a Trump supporter, don’t go jumping up and down and hollerin’ “Tough luck all you die hard Swifties.” That’s because you MAGA supporters will no doubt be prohibited from wearing a Trump hat or even one that says, “Make America Great Again.” Why? It’s because the US Supreme Court is meddling again.
Yep. In a recent case titled Ostrewich v. Hudspeth, the Supremes have ruled that it is quite OK for citizens to be prevented from wearing something expressive on their clothing for the sole reason that their clothing might be an expression of supporting a candidate or initiative on the ballot. So if there’s anything remotely related to a ballot issue, you will be ordered to take it off or cover up. No images of Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon or possibly any other ballot issue.
Free speech at the polls makes you persona non grata. Texas has now made it a criminal offense for a voter to wear an insignia, badge, or emblem if it relates to a candidate or an issue on the ballot. Our own Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, also approved the same restrictions. No surprise here because the Fifth Circuit is notorious for taking away personal freedoms that are supposedly guaranteed in the constitution.
Let me give you some history about the old days. You didn’t have to worry about what you wore back then. I first ran for state senator in 1971. On election day, I would be up before the crack of dawn ,and my first stop was at Hubert Lee’s donut shop in Ferriday. Forty boxes of donuts later, I was out the door to personally visit a number of voting precincts in the district. I would drop off a box of donuts for the election commissioners, then ask if they would mind wearing a Jim Brown for Senator button on their shirts. I don’t remember any commissioner refusing to pin my logo on.
Ok, maybe that did give me a small advantage. But I never hear of anyone complaining over some shirt, button or hat worn by a supporter of another candidate.
I did catch a little heat as Secretary of State when signs were put up at election sites that read “No campaigning within 300 feet of this polling site. Order by Secretary of State Jim Brown.” Of course I took my name off the signs when my opponents complained.
In this day and age, we certainly want to be sure that the election process is fair. Particularly when national candidates are complaining that some elections are stolen. But to think that a voter can be swayed by what’s on a hat or shirt seems a bit far-fetched to me.
But just in case, all you Mega supporters and you Swifties better keep your guard up. The elections police just might be on the prowl come election day.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also listen to his weekly podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.