Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Republican Party: Art of (Voter) War

Is it just me or does anyone else find the systematic dissection of those that would traditionally vote democratic alarming?

I must hand it to the Republicans; this is where they start to show their real genius. In response to being overly pissed off at the election of President Obama, the Republicans took “Sun Tzu” level steps in ensuring the election of someone like Obama [read into that however you’d like] never happens again. I say “Sun Tzu” level because this isn’t toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano, may the best man/woman win the election type tactics. This is the systematic dismantling of the democratic base – and those that vote for their democratic opponent – all done under the guise of austerity and fraud reduction. I mean it makes sense, why beat the individual in a “fair” election when you can remove those that vote for your opponent rendering them powerless. Sounds as if it comes straight from Art of War doesn’t it?

If nothing else, this highlights the importance of mid-term elections. Republicans (aided by the ignorant level of Democratic voter apathy) took over key states, and from within, started a campaign to win the 2012 election that had nothing to do with the Republican candidate for office. You will hear many on the right proclaim voter fraud as the main impetus for the (coincidental) push towards “voter reform.” Although many on the left can’t help but notice – much like the rise of the Tea Party – none of this became an issue when the national vote was ACTUALLY an issue; say in 2000…with Florida…Bush v. Gore…anyone? Bueller?.... Bueller?... “is this thing on?” **taps microphone**

No… of course not… This became an issue after the 2008 election – after Barack Obama leveraged the early and absentee voting to his benefit; helped organized the youth, minority, women, and union’s vote; and successfully ran a campaign that put him in the White House. Now, we shouldn’t suggest anything but the most honest of intentions from our conservative brethren, but it is absolutely amazing that after the 2008 elections, a bolt of lightning struck, and many Republican states felt that election changes were needed.

Let's see....

Citizens United:

Citizens United (which we speak about here) was a Supreme Court decision that gives corporations the same “freedom of speech” rights as individuals. Corporations (that overwhelmingly support Republican candidates) are not limited in how much money they spend to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.

Bust the Unions:

We watched all summer as Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (all swing states that voted for Obama) significantly reduce the power of labor unions (see here). Unions (which overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates) provided a financial counter weight to the mighty corporations. However, this summer, many Republican governors made headlines stripping unions of their bargaining rights. This move could cripple the strong Democratic bases in these swing-to-blue states creating Republican strong holds for decades.

Voter ID fraud:

  • In Texas, a bill was signed into law redistricting the State’s electoral map resulting in – intentionally or otherwise – the dilution of minority voters.
  • In Florida, a bill was signed into law changing the voting rules
    • Removing the requirement for counties to offer voting on the Sunday before the Election;
    • Requiring third party groups involved in voter registration drives to submit completed forms within 48 hours of filling them out, rather than 10 days.
  • In Ohio, officials are working on reducing the window for early voting – by over half
  • In several states, their laws are changing to require voter IDs – mostly requiring most to have a valid, state issued, picture ID. Ironically, many of these same states will NOT accept a FEDERALLY issued Passport or STATE ISSUED Student ID cards. Oddly, they do accept right to carry firearm IDs. (Does that seem one-sided to anyone else?)
There! Now, all is right with the world!

Again, all this could be COMPLETELY coincidental; however, we know that these new changes are affecting women and minority groups (those who voted more for President Obama) more than others. Seriously, why SHOULD we look for a voter fraud resolution that DOESN’T diminish the voice of those same groups and potentially disenfranchise even more (sarcasm implied)?

For example, the changes in South Carolina affect over 70% of nonwhite voters. Is that a concern? Is there a balance? Should the right to vote be trumped by “reducing” voter fraud? [Editor’s Note: Now, it is South Carolina, which NEVER votes Democrat, so some would say, “Who cares.” But this isn’t just happening in SC, but everywhere (especially in traditional swing states) with a Republican governor and legislature. Also, way too many folks died so that we ALL had a voice – EVERY American – that should mean something damn it!] Is voter fraud even a real threat? A study conducted by The Brennan Center for Justice says “NO.” It found that voter fraud is EXTREMELY rare, many anecdotes purported as voter fraud have been proven false, and claims of voter fraud usually are done so to forward a particular policy agenda (Hum…. You don’t say?).

Of course the other claim used by some states (especially when it comes to busting up the Unions) is that it is done so in an effort to “fix the economy”; however, many economists argued that not only did unions hurt the economy, they HELPED the economy by putting more money into the hands of spenders. Unions bluster the middle class and help to drive the demand for goods and services.

So, if fraud is rare and unions don’t hurt the economy, then why the sudden need for change? Why now? Don't you think this is a good question to ask? We should, at the very least, have the conversation…right? We assume the best out of everyone – I guess – even still, I think these questions should be asked – at least by the Department of Justice.

If nothing else, this absolutely shows you the importance of mid-term elections. The Republicans took over many states that were Democratic strongholds before and now it appears as if they want to erode the Democratic building blocks to keep a Republican strangle hold on many elections to come. During a time when a minuscule number of votes can shift the outcome, these changes are huge. Saving of a couple of thousands of votes here or there can drastically shift an election. So, while everyone is watching the national sleight of hand-of-hand that is Mitch McConnell talking about removing President Obama is the Republican’s number one priority or listening to "nine, nine, nine," the states are waging a guerrilla war on Democratic voters which could have a great influence on the outcome of the 2012 elections.

It appears that whether or not the economy is good, President Obama will have a fight on his hands; not because his policies or good/bad or his opponent is good/bad, but because his base of voters have been removed from the equation. Once one of your legs get knocked out, all the other side has to do is just lean on you.

Why now?  Why do you think Republicans are making this such a high priority in the states?
Why aren't folks making a bigger issues out of this?
Can this change the outcome of the 2012 election?
Is this voter suppression?
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