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Voting Rights Maven , Political Organizer Will Be Missed

Friday, April 24, 2015 10:45
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(Before It's News)

Curtis Gans died on March 15, 2015. Curt left a lasting legacy in two ways.

He stood for an idea and played a leading role in making it happen. Allard Lowenstein is remembered for leading the Dump Johnson movement  in 1968 to protest the Vietnam War.  None of that would have happened without the organizing and writing talents of Curt Gans, Dump Johnson soon attracted Eugene McCarthy stepping up so that Dump Johnson actually had a candidate.

Curt served as the national political operations director of the McCarthy campaign. He headed up its efforts in Wisconsin. Clearly McCarthy was going to beat Johnson in that state, having come close in New Hampshire. That effort in New Hampshire led to Robert Kennedy entering the race. Johnson withdrew from running for renomination and reelection before the Wisconsin vote, knowing that he would be thrashed.

Curt and i were colleagues at Americans for Democratic Action from 1964-66. He handled the foreign policy issues and I did the domestic issues and the lobbying. Together we called on House members to support hearings on the Vietnam War. We encouraged individuals to hold local hearings. We even had some successes.But calls for Committee hearings, except from the late Ben Rosenthal (D-NY) , were met with anger, getting ourselves kicked out of offices and told we were disloyal. We persisted, and with that avenue essentially closed, Curt joined Lowenstein in the Dump Johnson effort.

Curt did not stop after 1968. Hewas an all out reformer. By the early 70s he became an expert on American voting patterns. For political reporters he was the go to guy. Curt pushed for all the reforms– same day voter registration, motor voter registration, just show up, have early voting and many more. He spotted the Republican efforts to limit the vote for what they are: efforts to deprive lower income people, the elderly, people of color, the young from voting.

More than the reforms Curt, with his founding and leading The Committee to Study the American Electorate, understood the basic lack of effectiveness of the American political system. It is soiled by voting restrictions, abuse of money and blatant gerrymandering.

That’s the trinity that has to be corrected. The ongoing need to do that is Curtis Gans’ legacy.

David Cohen
March 25, 2015

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