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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Freedom vs. the Cult of the GOP

Protester with sign declaring voting a human right
Let's face it, there are really two reasons why Republicans want to put up significant obstacles to voting, The first is the obvious one that everyone knows: faced with an ever-shrinking demographic base, Republicans want to even the playing field by keeping Democratic voters away from the polls. If you ever doubted that one, then consider Texas' onerous voter ID law, which recognizes gun licenses as valid voter identification, but not a college ID card.

The second is similar, but more cultish. It's the Tea Party's rationalization for voter suppression. Like the first, this reasoning has it that too many Democrats vote, but this one tries to argue that making it harder to vote is a good thing, since then only the people who really want to vote will make it to the ballot box. These people worry about the "low information voter" (LIV), who -- if they only took the time to listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the Blessed Electronic Gospel Box -- would understand all and see the Starry Wisdom of the Tea Party Way. It's ironic, since the people who think this way are actually the LIVs they worry about. They're factually wrong about pretty much everything, but reject any disagreement as heresy and even as some sort of mental defect. In any case, the result of this cult-thinking is the same as that of the more reality-based suppressors' thinking -- weeding out Democratic voters. Only the reasoning behind the suppression effort is different.

Of course, there's a third reason and it's the stated reason: that democracy is at risk from voter fraud. But that's the excuse, it's not the reason why. When it comes down to why Republicans introduce laws to restrict voting, one of those two reasons are at the heart of it. Voter fraud is just the lie they tell as cover.


But whichever the reasoning, the cause of the panic is the same: the reliably Republican voter is disappearing into the mist.

Brian Buetler, Salon: When it became clear about a year ago that Republican leaders would have a much harder time advancing immigration reform than they realized — that GOP activists and conservatives were livid about the idea that Republicans were going to help illegal immigrants gain citizenship — it started to look like the party had an insoluble problem on its hands. Watching Republicans attempt to broaden their appeal to growing, traditionally Democratic constituencies has been like watching someone try to cover a bedroom floor with a poorly cut carpet, fastening it into one corner but pulling it out of the others in the process.

They can’t connect with traditionally Democratic constituencies without breaking connection with their reliable supporters. They can tug in every possible direction, but at some point they need to acknowledge that the carpet’s too small.
And here's where the Tea Party's reasoning for voter suppression actually approaches sense -- eve if it doesn't actually get anywhere near there.

The problem with the GOP is that they've been at the same messaging for so long that the people who began telling it have been replaced by the people who fell for it. In other words, Republicans are all people who've bought into Republican BS -- it's now a party that's fallen for it's own propaganda. They don't want to change to appeal to a broader base of voters -- and why would they? They believe they're 100% correct. If you change your argument to appeal to more voters, then you're moving away from a position of absolute truth. Compromise is the rejection of truth for the convenience of half-truths or even lies. This is why true believers reject moderation -- and why people who actually are right reject it as well.

So if Republicans can't change, then voters have to. The voting public must become more Republican. But here's where the Tea Party true believers run into trouble -- short of reeducation camps where hippies are made to listen to Limbaugh 24/7, there's no way to force voters to become enlightened in the ways of trickle-down, free market, fem'nist hatin', minority-bashing, Homosexual Menace-fightin' hoodoo.

So you chase liberals away from the polls. Instead of converting voters to Republicanism, you reduce the voting population until Republicans dominate. Which is why I don't hold out a lot of hope for the recommendations of a bipartisan panel on voting in America. Conservatives don't care about democracy, conservatives care about conservatism. So recommendations to improve voting in America will be fought tooth and nail, with lies about how they're all just an excuse to make voter fraud easier.

Ironically, the only way to beat voter suppression is to ruin Republicans at the polls. Thankfully, their voter suppression methods aren't nearly as effective as the GOP had hoped.

As much as they make a big show of "standing for liberty," Republicans don't believe in it. Not for everyone, anyway; only for the members of their orthodoxy. They believe in freedom in the same way that a dictator does -- plenty of freedom for themselves, not so much for everyone else. You see, the plebeians don't really know what's good for them, so it's the burden of the Enlightened to make their decisions for them. Too much freedom and you'll only hurt yourself with bad decisions about income inequality, the minimum wage, and "lifestyle choices" like homosexuality, contraception, and abortion.

The enemies of democracy are the enemies of freedom, since democracy is our most basic freedom. The right to vote is the right on which all other freedoms depend.

Use it or lose it, people.


[photo by Michael Fleshman]

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