Disenfranchising Democrats

March 8th, 2011

Republicans these days seem to have no shame when it comes to attempts to outright ban Democrats from voting. There have been a large number of scams, from dishonestly padded “felons lists” to far more devious “caging” scams. On a larger scale, they have successfully attacked organizations like ACORN, which help get lower-income Americans registered to vote, and, using fake voter-fraud claims, have tried to institute “voter ID” laws which coincidentally cause far more Democrats to not vote. Voting machines made by corporations vowing to do whatever it takes to get Republicans elected have shown the tendency to make “errors” which just happen to heavily favor Republican candidates. Republicans have even made public statements about suppressing the Democratic vote.

Anyone who pays attention to these stories knows that this is not a side game, a sometimes thing, or just a practice of people on the fringe: illicitly attempting to disenfranchise voters on the basis that they are Democrats is very much a mainstream Republican sport–and one certainly does not hear much from people on the right in protest of these actions.

Now, in New Hampshire, the state legislator is taking yet another new spin on this right-wing pastime. The Republican state House speaker, William O’Brien, wants to limit the ability of young people to vote, because all too often, he claims, they do so “foolishly”–that is, they vote Democratic:

“Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.”

This he told a Tea Party gathering–and it’s not just talk. There are bills going through the New Hampshire legislature which would use college and other residency situations common to young voters to keep them from the ballot boxes.

I am serious when I ask, how long will it be when it becomes so blatant that someone will claim that voting Democratic is a sign of mental instability, and will want to disenfranchise voters on those grounds? I am sure that some on the right-wing fringe already do so, but how long until a politician starts venting along those lines? O’Brien’s rant is dangerously close to exactly that.

  1. Troy
    March 8th, 2011 at 11:08 | #1

    Well, it is easy to vote for give-aways when you’re not the one who has to pay.

    Now that you’re a PR of Japan you’ve got the same thing to worry about there, lots of government spending but nobody’s paying the bill.

    “ObamaCare” has a pretty interesting time-bomb in it, one that hasn’t got much coverage at all, and that’s the state exchanges with subsidized coverage.

    Starting in 2014 employee health coverage will be capped at 9.5% of income for people making basically the median income or below.

    So someone making $15/hr in the retail sector won’t have to pay more that $250/mo for health care.

    This is a semi-reasonable first attempt at universal coverage I guess, but it’s going to add a lot of Federal dollars going for these health care subsidies, right when medicare starts expanding to cover the baby boom (the front half of the baby boom is turning 56-65 this year), AND FICA is already cash-negative 10 years early so there’s money being drawn out there, plus the national debt is going to be over $12T in two years, so every 1% rise in interest rates is going to cost us $120B in interest costs.

    It’s easy to dismiss the Tea Party types as nutball extremists but I do think they have a point.

    Now, this is not to say that we can’t raise taxes back to Clinton levels and beyond, we certainly should.

    But it’s very difficult to raise taxes after you’ve cut them, both politically and in economic terms since land prices rise and fall based on disposable (ie after-tax) income.

    Increase disposable income, and land prices go up. Decrease disposable income, and land prices will go down. This should be noncontroversial.

    But nobody wants land prices to go down any more, of course! Everybody wants them to go up : )

    March 9th, 2011 at 15:18 | #2

    Voting age used to be 21 and there is some merit in it. Scientists tell us that the brain is not fully developed in teenagers. But Republicans have done quite well in the last elections, and I do not think it is due to the vote of old people only. So, it cuts both ways.

  3. Luis
    March 9th, 2011 at 16:04 | #3

    Voting age used to be 21 and there is some merit in it.
    Perhaps, but the idea was that people 18 and older can fight and die for their country, so, ready or not, they absolutely have a stake in decisions that are made and must not be shut out.

    Besides which, there are millions of adults who make decisions more stupid than most 18-year-olds, most of which use their passions as a guide just as foolishly if not more so. We don’t allow the right to vote based on how wise your decisions are or how your passions enter into it. You can vote based on rank greed and spite if you so wish.

    We cannot and must not start deciding to disenfranchise voters based on stuff like this, as much as I would like to see a government elected by a people with a thorough understanding of what is happening and how things work.

    Frankly, I would say not only to keep the age at 18, but to give anyone under 18 a chance to vote, should they be capable of passing a test which would measure their awareness of current events, knowledge of civics, and their ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills above a certain level. Of course, don’t apply it over 18, but since the under-18 crowd is not allowed to vote anyway, I say to let them in if they can demonstrate the skills required. It’s not as if they don’t have a stake either.

    This would not only add to the number of informed people voting, but it would also be a great incentive to young people to learn civics and critical thinking, skills they would hopefully keep for the rest of their lives.

    Which, of course, is exactly why right-wingers would be aghast at the suggestion. Informed voters with critical thinking skills are not their constituency!

  4. Troy
    March 9th, 2011 at 19:11 | #4

    Dem’s loss in 2010 was partially because the youth vote wasn’t told their vote matters in mid-term elections, too, and the Dems apparently failed to mount an adequate GOTV campaign.

    Or the youth vote decide they didn’t want to have Dems in power any more and stayed home out of spite.

    Anyway, the old farts voted and that was the story of the election.

  5. Tim Kane
    March 10th, 2011 at 01:00 | #5

    The overwhelming drift of conservativism has been to create a permanent ruling establishment – Karl Rove talked about a permanent ruling conservative movement, similar to the Republican era that went from Lincoln to Taft.

    Now we all know that by definition they can never get more than about one and a half percent majority (at best) without extraordinary tricks and/or events. This is why Rove tried to politicize the Justice department. He wanted U.S. Attorney’s in swing districts indicting Democrats – guilty or not. This is a heavy penalty because independents won’t vote for someone under indictment and the U.S. Attorney’s office has deep pockets (essentially they have an infinite amount of lawyers) meaning the cost of defense against an indictment can be very heavy.

    These guys never sleep. This is what the events in Wisconsin were part of. This is what’s going on in Wisconsin. In the name of freedom they will make us all slaves, serfs, and citizens of a dictatorship. The republican party is really a diabolical crew – a danger to our country of the highest order. Unfortunately they have access to unlimited funds so our country is on life support for the indefinite future.

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