Saturday, September 29, 2012

REPUBLICANS ATTACK 47 PERCENT OF THE FRANCHISE AND THEN SOME


I wonder whether I am alone in having reached a tipping point in responding to the Republican Party and, yes, Republicans who aid and abet it.  I include in the Republican Party and as Republicans the Tea Party and its members.

I have long and increasingly been disgusted and outraged by GOP officials’ and members’ willful or inadvertent ignorance; their contempt for knowledge and expertise; their denial of facts and reality; their distortions, misrepresentations, smears, and lies; their mean-spiritedness, small-mindedness, and smut-mouthedness; their callousness, malice, and cruelty; their racism, misogyny, and homophobia; their cynicism and hypocrisy (especially of the Christian variety); and their responsibility-evading projection of their failings onto others.

My tipping point is the GOP’s efforts at national and state levels to subvert the 2012 election by disenfranchising citizens not likely to support its candidates.  In presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s now-infamous words, “47 percent” will never vote for him because veterans, seniors, women, students, minorities, etc., etc., see themselves as “victims,” are dependents of the state, have a sense of entitlement—this from Mitt (and Ann) Romney!—to its benefits, and take no responsibility for themselves.  In addition to this 47 percent are other Democrats, many Independents, and even a few Republicans—decent white, middle-class Americans who respect themselves , respect others, and share a sense of moral affinity with all Americans.  These people are not targets of Republican efforts at disenfranchisement, but they will become “collateral damage” in the future if the GOP’s efforts succeed.

On the basis of spurious, unsupported claims of voter fraud, Republicans in control of state legislatures and governor mansions have passed legislation to suppress the vote by groups more inclined to vote Democratic than Republican.  Identification is relevant to voter integrity, but not administrative, new-Jim-Crow-type obstacles and costs to it; curtailed locations, days, and hours for voting are relevant only to voter suppression.

These state efforts, like ALEC-inspired legislation, have not been isolated aberrations, but coordinated parts of a concerted program to disenfranchise voters.  For the National Republican Committee has just been caught with a sizeable contract to a firm to conduct fraudulent voter registration efforts in several states.

In Florida, Republicans have been sending paid agents pretending to register voters to sign up Republicans only.  This GOP-sponsored illegal activity is notable because the Republican-controlled state government passed legislation making voter registration by non-partisan organizations like the League of Women Voters so fraught with difficulties and penalties that they stopped their work.

Florida is only one state; the NRC contracted with the same firm to undertake similar efforts in a half dozen or so other “swing states.”  The Colorado Republican Party has abruptly fired this firm.  Meanwhile, the Ohio Tea Party, with Koch brothers’ money—the Tea Party is a green-bucks, not a grass-roots, movement—is challenging the registration of college students, minorities, and others.  More news will detail additional abuses.

Caught in the act, the NRC has immediately cancelled its $3 million contract for these services.  Such a response is better than none at all, though it is greatly marred by the usual lie that the DNC does the same thing.  (Remember how Republicans reviled ACORN on trumped-up charges of voter fraud and tried to link it to the Obama campaign?)  Even so the NRC deserves little credit, for it did not spend millions without knowing—in fact, stipulating in the contract—the services purchased by its money.  The speed with which it withdrew its hand from the cookie jar when it got caught does not deny that it was, and knew it was, stealing cookies.

The GOP is a long way from their usual “dirty tricks.”  Republicans are systematically engaged in betraying their allegiance to, and violating, the most basic principles of democracy.  Republicans no longer believe in government by “the consent of the governed,” and its Tea Partiers have never believed in the Boston Tea Party cry “no taxation without representation.”  The Republican Party, with its Tea Party caucus, is attempting to subvert not only a free and fair election, but also democracy itself; and thereby transforming itself into a subversive organization.  Republicans who vote for party candidates in this election, whatever they feel about the candidates or think about their positions, aid and abet its subversive efforts and may be suspected of placing party above patriotism.

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