Last May, Maryland political consultant Julius Henson was fined $1 million (in June a 60-day jail term was added) for a robo-call scheme to suppress the votes of eligible African-American voters. He was working for Republican Bob Erlich, a former Maryland governor trying to unseat Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Erlich campaign manager Paul Schurick was also convicted.
Erlich, of course, has gone on to become Mitt Romney’s Maryland campaign chairman. He lost his race but earned his Republican anti-democratic merit badge.
The kind of scheme uncovered in Maryland is nothing new to right-wing politics. Political journalists throughout the nation have known about it. For decades they didn’t write much about it, thinking it just the messy consequences of marginal but overzealous campaign workers.
Now the nation knows better. The Republicans’ voter suppression frenzy has become quite visible as they try to wall themselves off from the changing American electorate.
Folks, think you have the right to vote? Maybe not so much…There are some bad actors who are trying to pass legislation that will keep eligible people from voting.
Between 2000 and 2007 there were 32,299 UFO sightings, 342 deaths caused by lightning, but only nine – nine! – instances of voter impersonation. The latter, of course, is the great paranoid fantasy of the right used to justify the suppression laws.
The voter suppression efforts included a variety of scurrilous initiatives: eliminating election-day registration; restricting third-party voter registration efforts; reducing early voting periods; onerous and costly identification requirements.
Twenty million Americans don’t have the kinds of photo ID the new laws require. We know who they are: the young, the elderly, African-Americans, the poor, Latinos.
There is no democracy without equal access to the voting booths. If those in power are going to game the system to they and theirs have easier access than those they despise, then it is no longer a democracy. Their stupid cries of “freedom!” ring out as hollow lies.
It’s hard to see into the minds of people who would destroy the foundation of the democracy they claim to love so they can get or retain power. Democracy, of course, was created to constrain such power madness.
Here’s what Thomas Paine said about such people:
Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
That’s pretty simple to understand. Anyone who believes themselves born to rule who justifies the denial of political to voice others is or should be disqualified from participation in a democracy. They are singularly unit to lead.
Following the wave of anti-democratic voter suppression outlets, some mainstream media have begun to cover the issue and even editorialize against these efforts. But I’m guessing most of the elite ensconced in D.C., New York or state capitols are still not as outraged as they should be. If they were, none of these laws would have passed in the first place, and many more common criminals who conduct suppression efforts every campaign would be behind bars where they belong.
It would be poetic justice if these criminals’ names appeared on the disgusting vote-disqualifying “felons lists” distributed by their Republican colleagues next election.