Gen. Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants and a man of color who achieved two of the highest stations in a professional life that any can achieve, has remained a Republican despite his partys flirtations with extreme viewpoints as held by the tea party element that has been so destructive to civilized debate.
Speaking in Raleigh at the annual CEO Forum that brings business leaders together to offer remarks and exchange ideas, Powell spent most of his time speaking about his military career, during which he ultimately became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the man who served as Secretary of State in the Bush administration also took on matters less global. Specifically, he attacked the shameful voting law changes pushed by the Republican-run N.C. General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
McCrory also addressed the forum, but his aides said he left before Powells remarks, a bit surprising considering Powells stature. Had he stayed, the governor would have gotten a sensible earful.
Powell told the crowd of over 400 that the voting law changes which include requiring photo identification to vote, an end to same-day registration and a curb on early voting will hurt Republicans. It immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican Party needs, Powell said. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.
The changes clearly will hurt minority voters and just make it harder to vote for many people.
I want to see politics that encourages every American to vote, Powell said, not make it more difficult to vote.
And more difficult is what Republicans on Jones Street had in mind. But this most decorated soldier, who served several presidents on the battlefield and in the White House, understands that the democracy he fought to defend is stronger when those from all walks of life participate.