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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Republicans Against Democracy

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Remember community Get Out The Vote campaigns? Those were the days. Although most of the warm memories folks have as they get older, in which everything was idyllic in the old days, are completely untrue, there was something truly wholesome, upbeat and white-picket-fence American about Get Out The Vote campaigns.

For starters, everyone believed in the civic goodness of encouraging voting, regardless of party or political point of view. Believing as many people as possible should vote simply meant believing in America and believing in democracy.

Of course, that was before the Republican Party decided its candidates might lose if more people who didn’t look like them or think like them were allowed to vote. That was before Republicans stopped believing in democracy.

State Republicans curtailing voting by people living in Democratic areas or belonging to groups more likely to vote Democratic—people of color, college students, seniors—isn’t just a Wisconsin phenomenon.

It’s definitely a coordinated, national Republican effort. All across the country, Republicans are now leading an anti-democracy Keep In The Vote Campaign.

What once was a legitimate political party in this country has simply stopped supporting the basic foundation of democracy.

That’s a stunning political development, but just as shockingly many in the media have deliberately avoided honestly reporting it.  

Far too many seem to worry more about falling circulation or ratings than about reporting the facts. To avoid stating the obvious, the media try to turn every political story into a he-said-she-said story.

Republicans have learned whatever they say—even if it’s the most brazen lie—will be treated as just as valid as whatever Democrats say—even if Democrats are telling the truth.

Democrats say Republicans are cutting back early voting before Election Day in Milwaukee, Madison and other cities to reduce urban voting by people of color and others likely to vote Democratic. Republicans say they are merely leveling the playing field because rural Republicans cast their ballots in small towns that don’t provide as much time for early voting.

So one side says one thing, the other side says something else and no one really knows what the truth is? False. Everyone knows what the truth is, including the reporters writing or broadcasting such stories.

 

GOP Is Intentionally Reducing Voting

It’s not taking sides for the media to point out what one side says is true and what the other side says is not. That’s reporting the facts.

If Republicans really wanted to level the playing field between urban and rural voters, they would add a lot more times and places for city voters to cast their ballots instead of reducing them.

An irrefutable fact about voting is people in cities have a lot more difficulty voting on Election Day than voters in rural areas and small towns simply because—surprising fact here—there are a lot more people.

I grew up in a small town. Now I live in Milwaukee. No one in any small town anywhere has ever had to stand in line for three hours to vote as I did during the high turnout George W. Bush re-election in 2004.

And the expansion of early voting, intended to reduce the crush on Election Day, has actually given small town voters an even greater advantage.

As Bruce Murphy pointed out, in 2012 Milwaukee and Madison, the two biggest targets where Republicans are slashing early voting opportunities, had early voting by 12.6% and 12.5% of their registered voters, respectively.

In small towns and suburbs across Wisconsin as many as a quarter to a third of those registered voted early—34.5% in Whitefish Bay, 28.2% in Menasha, 26.5% in Brookfield, 26.4% in Delafield, 26% in Port Washington.

When all the votes were counted, smaller towns across Wisconsin in 2012 routinely had greater overall turnouts than even the impressive numbers of 75.3% and 69% in Milwaukee and Madison—85.7% in Menasha, 85.5% in Whitefish Bay and 82.6% in Port Washington.

There’s no reason for such tremendous inequalities to continue when secure technology exists to put voting online and make it easier and more convenient for everybody.

We are witnessing the most reprehensible effort to intentionally reduce voting in our democracy since the 100 years of voter suppression between African Americans winning the constitutional right to vote after the Civil War and actually beginning to achieve that right through the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

We all know the Republican Party has taken some dark, ugly turns since the tea party emerged in 2010 in a vile backlash against the election of the nation’s first African American president.

But to continue to remain a legitimate political party in America, at the very least Republicans should be expected to believe in democracy.