Afraid: The GOP War On Voting

I heard a conservative say on Sunday how “admirable” it was for folks to be willing to stand in line for six or seven hours to vote in Florida.

This morning I heard someone on the IQ-crippling morning show on Fox say essentially the same thing. How “dedicated” must those voters be.

All of us with a brain not poisoned by Fox “News” understand that what is going on in Florida and Ohio and elsewhere, in terms of how Republicans have intentionally made it more difficult for people, mostly Democratic people, to vote, would be a famous Fox-fueled scandal if it were reversed.

If Democrats were deliberately limiting or suppressing the voting opportunities of, say, white evangelicals, Fox hosts and guests—including Mitt Romney—would not be disingenuously fawning over those “dedicated” conservative Christians and their willingness to commit half a day—or night—to exercising their right to vote.

No, every minute of Fox broadcast time would be spent on how unpatriotic Democrats are to treat the voting process so shabbily, so self-servingly. “Our brave troops fought and died for that right!” they would sanctimoniously shout. They would demand the Justice Department put a stop to it. Hell, they would beseech GOP Jesus to send down a holy bolt of lightning to fry the oppressors.

The Joplin Globe, on Sunday, editorialized about voting, and offered quotes from famous Americans, including this one from John Kennedy:

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

In an editorial about the importance of voting, the Joplin Globe had nothing to say about how “afraid” Republicans are of letting “people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market.” Nothing to say.

♦ Nothing to say about Republicans in Ohio, particularly the secretary of state, who has done everything he can to make it more difficult to vote than it was four years ago, including his latest move, which may even be illegal, to give local election officials the power to invalidate ballots. (There will be a court fight on Monday, if nothing is resolved.)

♦ Nothing to say about onerous voter ID laws, which, as a Pennsylvania Republican stupidly but fortunately admitted, were designed to deliver the election to the Republican presidential candidate.

♦ Nothing to say about right-wing groups like True the Vote—founded just after Mr. Obama took office—whose real goal is to intimidate or delegitimize minority and young voters. Read this article by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and cringe at the inquisition-like tactics being used by Republicans—lily white Republicans—against people of color who have voted all their adult lives. (Local inquisitors like Republican honcho John Putnam are using True the Vote tactics here in Southwest Missouri, for God’s sake, a place where Democrats usually poll about 35%.)

♦ Nothing to say about what has been happening in Florida, the lines, the chaos and confusion, the suppression. Republicans there deliberately cut back early voting days, including the Sunday before election day, typically a strong day of voting by African-American voters. And the former Republican governor of that state, Charlie Christ, criticized the current Republican governor for refusing to extend early voting hours, as folks waited a ridiculously long time to vote:

The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression. That’s unconscionable. I think it’s just the wrong thing to do. And the right thing to do would be to sign an executive order to make sure this doesn’t happen and you expand the hours.

As one voter there, who waited in line for almost two hours, said:

This is America, not a third-world country.

She forgot, I guess, that since 2010, Florida has been living under Tea Party governance, third-world or otherwise.

All of the disgusting Republican tactics are ostensibly designed to address voter fraud, a problem that doesn’t exist in the form that things like voter ID laws and registration inquisitions would help fix. The New Yorker article quoted a public-policy professor at Rutgers, who said,

It makes no sense for individual voters to impersonate someone. It’s like committing a felony at the police station, with virtually no chance of affecting the election outcome.

Thus, it makes no legal sense that Republicans would spend so much time and effort to attack a problem that is not a problem, but it does make political sense. Again, as John Kennedy would certainly say today, if he were around to witness what Fox “News” and the Joplin Globe and even much of the national press refuse to witness, is that Republicans, who have embraced extremism wholesale, truly are “afraid” to allow people to “judge the truth and falsehood in an open market.

Because when it comes down to it, the conservative spirit, which animates Republican politics today, is and always has been afraid of We the People.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Duane – re Kennedy’s quote, which is exactly right, I would add that todays’ has disdain for the people and doesn’t consider them worthy to participate.

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    • Disdain, Moe, is the right word. When I was watching the John Lewis speech I posted a bit ago, when I saw that gathering of Democrats at the convention, people of color and white folks, men and women, gays and straights, I can’t for the life of me understand how any American, no matter the particular politics, can sleep at night while engaging in tactics designed to keep people from voting, especially knowing what we have been through in this country to get to a point where the kinds of people who filled that convention hall in North Carolina can do so freely–and all with the sacred–in a Democracy there is no other term for it–right to vote.

      Amazing.

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  2. henrygmorgan

     /  November 5, 2012

    Duane:

    I seems to me that the most tragic element of this voter suppression scheme is that the very people who are being most suppressed are the ones who paid perhaps the highest price to gain that vote. The Freedom Riders, the Edmund Petttus Bridge survivors, the three college students murdered in Mississippi in 1963, the numerous nameless elderly men and women who put on their finest garb to go and march in a protest when they knew in advance that they were going to be beaten severely by local thugs and willing cops, and all the others who were willing to put their bodies and lives on the line to gain the right that should have been theirs automatically, these are the very targets of the modern-day suppressors.

    That American citizens ever had to fight for the right to vote should shame all of us; that they are now having to do it twice should make us question our values and our “loyalty” to this nation. In the Alabama of my youth, where voting required a poll tax, a literacy test, and a “voucher,” an already registered voter who would vouch that the person seeking registration was who he said he was, was the age he claimed, and lived where he said he did. The absence of already-registered Black voters presented a major hurdle for would-be black voters. When two of my black friends, vets like me, asked me to be their voucher, I agreed. The “literacy” they were required to take involved reading and interpreting an obscure section of the Alabama Statutes. When they both failed the test, one of them said, “Yeah, I know what that statute meant. It meant ‘Ain’t no nigger gonna vote in Alabama.'”

    In 1964, when the Voting Rights Act was passed, it was the crowning achievement of brave and resolute people who had put all on the line. That a group of American citizens in 2012 is trying to reverse that Law is disgraceful, shameful, and a blight upon the nation.

    “They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”

    Henry

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    • Well said Henry and a great point. I’m sure there are tens of thousands of older black voters who not only remember those days but who were the ones who fought the valient fight. This years suppression push will be another blight on our reputation as a nation.

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    • Henry,

      I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your wonderful submission here and posted it on the blog. Fantastic. Thanks so much.

      Duane

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    • Well said, Bud.

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