Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who Hates Democracy?

Some truths really are self-evident.  Like, for example, that the Fonz was cool, that Kate Middleton is a cutie, and that Republicans hate democracy.

Well, to be fair, not all of these are equally self-evident to everyone.  So let me rephrase my premise: some truths are self-evident to everyone except to those people who watch Fox News instead of keeping up with current events.

For those who do keep up with current events, the truth about Republican hostility to democracy is as self-evident as the Fonz’s coolness and Kate’s cuteness. 

Let’s set aside Governor Romney’s expressed contempt for 47% of the voters that he revealed last week, and focus for the moment on GOP attempts to strip Americans of their right to vote.

The claim promoted by GOP leaders - but dismissed by every honest observer as bogus - is that they are worried about voter fraud.  Actually “Voter Fraud” is so rare and inconsequential as to be no more worrisome than boa constrictors in the bedroom, yet this is the battle cry the Republicans are raising as they fight to keep voters, particularly Democratic-leaning Black and Hispanic voters, from voting.

In Florida, the GOP has succeeded in cutting short the early voting period and has specifically eliminated voting on the Sunday before Election Day.  This is their way of sticking it to African-American voters, who in the past have gathered at their churches on Sunday to be bussed to their polling places to vote.

More well-known are Republican efforts to require voters to have picture IDs, the very kind of identification that has not been required in the past, but that will prevent thousands of poor voters who lack drivers’ licenses to exercise their rights.  As Republican Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s House Majority, announced last June, the voter ID law in that state “… is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

Of course, some may argue that Republicans define democracy differently from the way the rest of us do.  To Mitch McConnell, for example, democracy apparently means “ensuring that the president doesn’t get re-elected.”

And in 2000, Governor Jeb Bush believed that it was his duty, as the elected representative of the people of Florida, to get his brother George into the White House.  Or, as he petulantly put it, not let Al Gore make him (Jeb) forget who his brother was.

Thanks, Jeb.

No doubt it was their success in getting George W. Bush into the White House over the objections of the voters that inspires current GOP efforts to subvert democracy.  In swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, one law after another is being pushed forward by Republicans, all aimed at making it harder for those voters they don’t like to vote.

In fact, Republican efforts at voter suppression are so ruthless that Abraham Lincoln would surely be shocked and disgusted by the party that he helped establish.  Of course, if he were alive today, Mr. Lincoln would be angrily rejected by the anti-Black, anti-democratic and anti-government right-wingers that dominate the GOP anyway.  As I’ve said before, the Republican Party has so thoroughly abandoned the compassion, wisdom and virtue that Lincoln embodied, that it has no longer has any right to call itself the “Party of Lincoln.”  A much more appropriate title today is “The Party of Nixon.”

Now some readers might object that they actually know Republicans who are reject their party's voter suppression campaign, and I don’t doubt that there are some, though I’d like sure to hear from them.  Still, even self-evident truths have their exceptions.  After all, Fonzi wasn’t always cool; he did once literally “jump the shark.”  And Kate Middleton probably isn’t always cute.  I can imagine that if she were to wear a Mitch McConnell mask, she wouldn’t be cute at all.  

                        Kate Middleton in Disguise

 So the fact that some Republicans are embarrassed by their party’s voter suppression doesn’t take away from my original point: Republicans hate democracy.