|Foul on the Play. Take a seat.|
So it's possible that I'm really, really angry about the way Michigan's government has been behaving itself. And by "possible," I mean "a virtual certainty."
But I will try my best to stay rational and not rant. Here's my take on how Republicans deal with the situation when they lose in our democracy: "how can we undermine democracy so that we win?"
It's not, as saner members of the party might suggest, about "how do we reach out to voters? How do we make our policy arguments in a better, more convincing way?" No, no. It's "how do we change the rules so that we can win." And let me be clear: by "change the rules" I mean "subvert democracy."
1. Long Lines. After losing in 2008, and a Tea Party sweep in many state elections in 2010, state Republican politicians enacted or tried to enact: shorter voting periods when Democrats vote, fewer polling places where Democrats vote, and as frustrating a process as they can get away with before they are stopped by a court or the Justice Department.
A year ago, the Brennan Center issued a study documenting the recent and abrupt reversal of America’s long tradition of expanding voting access. Without national notice, legislators pressed scores of new bills that would make it harder for eligible Americans to vote. This report helped spur much-needed public scrutiny of these laws and their possible impact on our elections.
We estimated that these new laws — which included onerous voter ID laws, cutbacks to early voting, and community-based registration drives — “could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” That number reflected the sheer quantity and scope of restrictive legislation already then enacted in 14 states.
The drive to curb voting continued beyond October. All told, since January 2011, at least 180 bills were introduced in 41 states. Ultimately, 25 new laws and two executive actions were adopted in 19 states. These states represented 231 electoral votes, or 85 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. This amounted to the biggest threat to voting rights in decades...
the fight will continue well past November. Courts will examine laws in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. Politicians will introduce more bills to limit voting rights. Most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear two major cases that could substantially cut back on legal protections for voters. It has already agreed to hear a challenge, brought by Arizona, that could curb federal power to protect voting rights. The Court likely will also hear a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has proven to be a key protection against discriminatory laws, including many of the ones passed in 2011-12.
Are they doing it on purpose? Yes, if you ask former FL Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, former FL Governor Charlie Crist, or this guy:
|"Though Latinos make up only 6 percent of the state's population, |
about 20 percent of the billboards are in Spanish."
2. Voter ID. Yeah, sure it's about voter fraud. Prove it. You want to have a voter ID? Okay, fine. But do it on a national level, do it with enough time to make sure everybody has the ID, and do it on the government's dime. To do otherwise is, well, nakedly trying to game the system and disenfranchise people who don't tend to vote for you. Even when the law would no longer require voter ID, because it had been stayed by a court, Pennsylvania was still trying to convince voters not to come to the polls if they don't have ID.
|This one was in a minority neighborhood in Cleveland.|
3. Systematic Voter Intimidation. - With protests of "voter fraud," conservative groups have posted scary anti-voting signs in minority neighborhoods, and organized groups of "poll watchers" (primarily Tea Partiers in a group called "True the Vote" - see video below) who go watch voters in urban polling places and challenge their votes based on...? The most telling part of the video starts at 3:45.
4. Changing the System.
- Gerrymandering - Why did the House stay Republican? Because of Gerrymandering by Republican state officials all over the country. Now I'm not saying Dems don't do this (look at Maryland, a usually awesome state, but one where Dems targeted one of the two traditionally R seats in this past election). But we shouldn't. Nobody should. Redistricting should NOT be a political process. It should be about proper representation, so that people have a say, and feel that they have a say.
- Electoral College Manipulation - Can't win Ohio? Hey, let's split the electoral vote on congressional district, but only where it will help Rs. Like Ohio. This is the baldly-obvious brand of system-tinkering, as when state officials wanted to keep the polls open longer, but only in Republican-leaning districts.
5. Killing Unions. And finally, we get to Michigan, and the Republicans who just rammed anti-union measures through their House and Senate, then the Governor's office. I heard one talking head proclaim "this is really a pro-worker initiative."
Then why not run on it? Why not let it go through regular process and debate? Why lock the doors to keep the public out while you're passing it? Why do it so fast that nobody had any time to organize a protest? And why do it after unions just helped beat you in a Presidential election? Seriously? It's pro-worker? Get real. Unions support Democrats, because Democrats stand up for working people. You know, the "Takers." Those people who just take and take from large corporations who are completely gone from America now? Wait... hmmm. Who do you think buys what corporations sell? Do Republicans really want a capitalist wasteland where people who work for a living can't band together to exert ANY power over their own economic fate? They have that in other countries. Take a good look at working conditions in China, and then come back and talk to me about how bad unions are here.
There are good, smart Republicans. Ones who believe in democracy. But this stuff right here? It's done by people who think like Nixon: the rule of law, the institution of democracy? They are worth less than a Republican win. And that is unacceptable behavior. It is wrong, it needs to be addressed by the people, because it will undermine the very concept of democracy we hold dear.