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“It’s Not Good For Republicans”: This Is How Not To Defend Voter Suppression In North Carolina

Two weeks after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) approved the most sweeping voter-suppression law seen in the United States in a generation, the political world is taking note of the disaster in growing numbers. Last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned the state’s new voting restrictions, and yesterday, pundit Cokie Roberts said, “[W]hat’s going on about voting rights is downright evil.”

But don’t worry, the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent leader of the religious right movement for decades, has a new defense. In a WorldNetDaily column, the right-wing activist offered an unexpected explanation of why some of North Carolina’s new restrictions are worthwhile.

The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”

The Obama technocrats have developed an efficient system of identifying prospective Obama voters and then nagging them (some might say harassing them) until they actually vote. It may take several days to accomplish this, so early voting is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign.

Have you ever heard a political figure accidentally read stage direction, unaware that it’s not supposed to be repeated out loud? This is what Schlafly’s published column reminds me of.

For North Carolina Republicans, the state’s new voter-suppression measures are ostensibly legitimate — GOP officials are simply worried about non-existent fraud. The response from Democrats and voting-rights advocates is multi-faceted, but emphasizes that some of these measures, including restrictions on early voting, have nothing whatsoever to do with fraud prevention and everything to do with a partisan agenda.

And then there’s Phyllis Schlafly, writing a piece for publication effectively saying Democrats are entirely right — North Carolina had to dramatically cut early voting because it’s not good for Republicans.

Remember, Schlafly’s piece wasn’t intended as criticism; this is her defense of voter suppression in North Carolina. Proponents of voting rights are arguing, “This is a blatantly partisan scheme intended to rig elections,” to which Schlafly is effectively responding, “I know, isn’t it great?”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 26, 2013

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Voting Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Either Way, They Could Be Screwed”: The GOP Might Just Stick With This “Party Of White People” Thing

Since the 2012 election, most (not all, but most) Republicans have agreed that if they’re going to remain viable in presidential elections in coming years, the party will have to broaden its appeal, particularly to Latino voters. There has been plenty of disagreement about how to go about this task. Especially over comprehensive immigration reform, which many Republicans see as too high a policy price to pay to achieve some uncertain measure of good will from those voters. But outside of conservative talk radio, there weren’t many voices saying that they should junk the whole project. Every once in a while some voice from the past like Phyllis Schlafly would come out and bleat that the party should focus on the white folk who make up the party’s beating heart, but to many it seemed like the political equivalent of your racist great aunt saying at Thanksgiving that she doesn’t feel comfortable around those people.

But as immigration reform wends its tortured path through Congress, more mainstream Republicans are having second thoughts. In fact, significant backlash is brewing, not just to this bill but to the whole idea of Republicans working to appeal to minorities. Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC has an excellent article explaining how this backlash is spreading, noting that even some people who six months ago were blaming Mitt Romney’s position on immigration reform for his loss are now saying that the only viable path to victory is getting turnout up among white voters.

I’ll get to why this is a very bad idea in a moment, but the logic at work isn’t completely crazy. After all, by now the Republican party going after minority votes is like the fast-food joint that puts a salad on its menu amid all the bacon cheeseburgers and chili fries. It’s there so they can say they’re offering something for people with different tastes, but they don’t expect anyone to order it. And when Rush Limbaugh warns that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants will create millions of new Democratic voters, he’s probably right to a degree. Under the bill the Senate passed it would be 13 years before any undocumented immigrant could earn citizenship and vote, but as Sarlin discusses, the argument some Republicans make that Latinos are “natural conservatives” has always been weak.

After every election, a significant number of people within the losing party argue that the problem wasn’t one of persuasion but one of turnout. They just didn’t get enough of their voters to the polls, so they don’t have to change what they’re arguing. There’s often some truth to it; when only 50 to 60 percent of eligible voters are coming to the polls, turnout on your side could always be higher. But the problem the GOP now faces is that the way you relate to one group of voters affects how other voters perceive you.

This was something George W. Bush and Karl Rove understood well when they built his 2000 campaign. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” consisted mostly of things like pulling African-Americans on stage with him and putting lots of pictures of Latinos on his web sites. It got him a few extra votes among minorities, but that was always just a bonus. The real target was moderate white voters, who saw it and learned, in the phrase reporters repeated over and over, that Bush was “a different kind of Republican.” He wasn’t like those mean-spirited old white guys who seemed to dominate the GOP, and they’d be comfortable voting for him.

By the same token, if you decide that you’re going to focus your efforts on turning out the white vote, you won’t only be sending a message to Latinos (and African Americans, and the fast-growing Asian American population) that you’re not interested in them, you’ll also be sending a message to moderate whites that your party might not be the kind of place they’d feel comfortable. This goes double for young white voters, who have grown up in a much more diverse culture than their parents and grandparents, and aren’t going to be so hot on joining the Party of White People.

This is a dilemma for Republicans. Both paths are strewn with obstacles and dangers. Whichever one they choose, there’s likely to be trouble.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 2, 2013

July 3, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Party Isn’t White Enough”: Get Ready For More Republican Party Race Baiting

You, unsuspecting citizen, probably take the view that the Republican Party is too white. It’s the conventional wisdom, after all, and last year’s election results would seem to have proven the point resoundingly. But you’re obviously not up with the newest thinking in some conservative quarters, which is that the party isn’t white enough, and that the true and only path to victory in the future is to get whiter still. Some disagree, which gives us the makings of a highly entertaining intra-GOP race war playing out as we head into 2016. But given this mad party’s recent history, which side would you bet on winning?

The situation is this. The immigration reform bill passed the Senate yesterday. It will now go to the House. A few weeks ago, as I read things, there were occasional and tepid signals that the House would not take up the Senate bill. Now, by contrast, those signals are frequent and full-throated. For example, yesterday Peter Roskam, a deputy GOP whip in the House, said this: “It is a pipe dream to think that [the Senate] bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on. The House is going to move through in a more deliberative process.”

“Deliberative process” probably means, in this case, killing the legislation. House conservatives, National Journal reports, are increasingly bullish on the idea that they may be able to persuade John Boehner to drop the whole thing.

Last December, such an outcome was supposed to mean disaster for the Republicans. But now, some say the opposite. Phyllis Schlafly and talk-radio opponents of the bill like Laura Ingraham have been saying for a while now that the party doesn’t need Latino votes, it just needs to build up the white vote. And now, they have the social science to prove it, or the “social science” to “prove” it.

Sean Trende, the conservative movement’s heavily asterisked answer to Nate Silver (that is to say, Silver got everything right, and Trende got everything wrong), came out with an analysis this week, headlined “Does GOP Have to Pass Immigration Reform?,” showing that by golly no, it doesn’t. You can jump over there yourself and study all his charts and graphs, but the long and short of it is something like this. Black turnout and Democratic support have both been unusually high in the last two elections, which is true; Democrats have been steadily losing white voters, which is also true; if you move black turnout back down to 2004-ish levels and bump up GOP margins among whites (by what strikes me as a wildly optimistic amount), you reach White Valhalla. Somehow or another, under Trende’s “racial polarization scenario,” it’ll be 2044 before the Democrats again capture 270 electoral votes. Thus is the heat of Schlafly’s rhetoric cooled and given fresh substance via the dispassionate tools of statistics.

Karl Rove says this is bunk. He wrote in The Wall Street Journal yesterday that to win the White House without more Latino support, a Republican candidate would have to equal Ronald Reagan’s 1984 total among whites, which was 63 percent. Rove thinks this unlikely—Trende thinks it’s pessimistic—and counsels some Latino reach-out (naturally, none of them ever says anything about black reach-out). The party used to listen to Rove, but most of them have zoomed well past him to the twilight zone of the far, far right.

These Republicans and the people they represent—that is, the sliver of people they care about representing—don’t want any outreach. They almost certainly won’t let a path to citizenship get through the House. And they’ll attack minorities in other ways, too. It’s been mostly civil rights advocates who’ve denounced the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision, and one can obviously see why. But trust me, that decision, as Bloomberg’s Josh Green shrewdly noted the day it came down, is a “poisoned chalice” for the GOP.

Why? Just look at what’s already happened since the decision was announced—the party is launching voter-suppression drives in six of the nine freshly liberated states. All the states, of course, are down South. These drives might “work.” But they will attract an enormous amount of negative publicity, and they’ll probably induce massive backlashes and counter-movements. This effort will lead to even greater distrust of the GOP by people of color, and it will reinforce the captive Southern-ness of the party, making it even more Southern than it already is. And Republicans won’t stop, because they can’t stop. Race baiting is their crack pipe.

And here’s the worst part of this story. If the House Republicans kill immigration reform, and Republican parties across the South double down to keep blacks from voting, then they really will need to jack up the white vote—and especially the old white vote—in a huge way to be competitive in 2016 and beyond. Well, they’re not going to do that by mailing out Lawrence Welk CDs. They’re going to run heavily divisive and racialized campaigns, worse than we’ve ever seen out of Nixon or anyone. Their only hope of victory will be to make a prophet of Trende—that is, reduce the Democrats’ share of the white vote to something in the mid- to low-30 percent range. That probably can’t happen, but there’s only one way it might. Run the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable.

That’s the near-term future we’re staring at. We can take satisfaction in the fact that it’s bad for them, but unfortunately, it’s not so good for the country.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 28, 2013

July 1, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Blind To The Past And The Future”: Republicans Are Ignorant Of The Lessons Of History And Impervious To The Wisdom Of Experience

As a new effort at comprehensive immigration reform inches its way forward in the Senate, dissent from many conservatives is revealing their true contempt for, and fear of, the possibility that demographic groups who look different from their base will accrue power.

The questions are: Is providing a pathway to citizenship (or at least permanent residency) for the 11 million people in this country illegally an act of humanity and practicality? Or is it an electoral imperative to which opposition ultimately guarantees political suicide?

The answer probably is “yes” to both, although many Republicans seem to think the opposite.

President George W. Bush, a supporter of a pathway to citizenship, spoke to The Huffington Post about the current efforts for comprehensive immigration reform, saying, “I think the atmosphere, unlike when I tried it, is better, maybe for the wrong reason.”

Bush continued: “The right reason is it’s important to reform a broken system. I’m not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes. I mean when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that’s the right thing to win votes. Maybe there’s no difference there. It seems like there is to me though.”

But that distinction — humanitarianism over opportunism — is as lost on as many of Bush’s fellow Republicans today as when he was in office. They don’t even accept the logic of long-term electoral viability over extinction.

The most outlandish example of conservative rhetoric in its truly offensive glory on this subject came in an interview last week with Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent conservative activist, on the news site PolicyMic. In it she said:

“I don’t see any evidence that Hispanics resonate with Republican values. They have no experience or knowledge of the whole idea of limited government and keeping government out of our private lives. They come from a country where the government has to decide everything. I don’t know where you get the idea that the Mexicans coming in resonate with Republican values. They’re running an illegitimacy rate that is extremely high. I think it’s the highest of any ethnic group. We welcome people who want to be Americans. And then you hear many of them talk about wanting Mexico to reclaim several of our Southwestern states, because they think Mexico should really own some of those states. Well, that’s unacceptable. We don’t want people like that.”

There are so many stereotypes and fallacies in that statement that it’s not even worth unpacking, but it is a great illustration of some deep-rooted conservative views.

The one thing I will take the time to contest is the notion that even if Republicans changed their rhetoric and tactics, they wouldn’t gain traction with Hispanics (not all of whom are Mexican, by the way, Ms. Schlafly).

According to exit poll data, from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, Republicans made significant headway in closing the gap between the number of Hispanics who voted for Democratic candidates to the House of Representatives and those who voted for Republicans, shrinking a 50-point Democratic advantage in 1982 to just 12 points in 2004.

But then came Bush’s attempt at comprehensive immigration reform and the enormous pushback it got from Congressional Republicans. Just before Christmas in 2005, the Republican-led House passed an enforcement-only immigration bill that sparked huge protests.

In the 2006 elections, the Democratic advantage among Hispanic voters for House races shot back up to 48 points. That year, Democrats recaptured the House and the Senate, and took control of a majority of governorships.

Republicans, seemingly ignorant of the lessons of history and impervious to the wisdom of experience, are hellbent on revisiting 2005. While the Democratic advantage among Hispanics in presidential races is large and growing, the Democratic advantage in House elections has slowly begun to shrink again. And Hispanics, seemingly excited by the movement on immigration reform and optimistic about its prospects, have developed sharply more favorable opinions of Congress. A full 56 percent of Hispanics hold Congress in high esteem, up from 35 percent in November 2011, according to an ABC News/Washington Post Poll.

So what do some Republican lawmakers want to do to the only segment of the population in which a majority now has a favorable opinion of Congress? Spurn them and dash their hopes.

Brilliant, if you want to cement Democratic preference among Hispanics in perpetuity.

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, June 1, 2013

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“That Great Untapped Reservoir”: Phyllis Schlafly Urges GOP To Focus On White Voters

Some important divisions among Republican officials surfaced in the wake of the 2012 elections, but most of the party agrees on one over-arching strategy: Republicans are going to have to do better among non-white voters. It’s an increasingly diverse nation, and the GOP’s core base is overwhelmingly white — a problem that appears to be getting worse, not better.

With this in mind, the Republican National Committee is launching yet another minority outreach campaign, and may even end up grudgingly supporting comprehensive immigration reform. The Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, a long-time leader of the religious right movement and anti-feminist activist, is convinced her party has it all wrong.

[I]n an interview this week with conservative radio program Focus Today, Schlafly just came right out and said it. Calling the GOP’s need to reach out to Latinos a “great myth,” Schlafly said that “the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn’t vote in the last election.” Schlafly accused the Republican “establishment” of nominating “a series of losers … who don’t connect with the grassroots.”

Look, this isn’t complicated. White voter turnout rates have been pretty steady over the last few presidential-year election cycles, and both John McCain and Mitt Romney won the support of a majority of white voters. Indeed, it wasn’t especially close — McCain won 55% of the white vote in 2008 (en route to losing the election badly), and Romney did even better, winning 59% of the white vote (en route to losing the election badly).

Schlafly is under the impression that there’s this untapped reservoir of conservative white voters, just sitting at home, waiting for the Republican Party to reach out to them with a message they’ll like, and if Democrats are really lucky, GOP officials will take Schlafly’s advice seriously.

Because as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, conservative dead-enders who still see an emphasis on white voters as the key to electoral salvation are kidding themselves.

But even if we put these pesky details aside, I have a related question for Schlafly and those who agree with her: exactly what would it look like if Republicans tried even harder to “reach out to … the white votes”? The GOP is already looking an awful lot like the driven snow, so what more can party leaders do, specifically, to make white folks feel even more welcome?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 30, 2013

May 31, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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