How Old Are You?

July 28, 2012

When large-scale done-in-daylight vote rigging becomes legal can revolution be far behind?

I mean, remember this touted 4th of July opening line: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”

Republicans have been in the process of stifling minority voters for a long time through the use of various nefarious means (I’ve always wanted to use the word “nefarious” in a column. It sounds like what it means: wicked, vile, an offense against the divine or moral law. For instance, there’s so much about Wall Street and its relationship to congress that’s nefarious the word begs to be used. And it’s the perfect term to describe the modern Republican party —especially its leadership).

As Harold Myerson of the Washington Post says, “It’s not that Republicans haven’t run voter suppression operations before, but they’ve been under-the-table dirty tricks, such as calling minority voters with misinformation about polling-place locations and hours.”

But dirty tricks are small potatoes next to the current in-your-face voter suppression tactics of Republicans in the states they control.

Republicans say they are trying to prevent voter fraud, but you’d have to be born yesterday to buy that. First of all, in their efforts to rig the upcoming election in their favor by challenging the voting rights of minorities, the elderly and the young, they are claiming to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. A study of the prevalence of past voter fraud shows it’s almost too small to measure.

This is not a case of oh-what-the-hell-both-sides-do-it. In his analysis of voter suppression measures for the Harvard Kennedy School, Alexandar Keyssar  notes,”The new (voter) ID laws have almost invariably been sponsored—and promoted—by Republicans, who claim that they are needed to prevent fraud. (In five states, Democratic governors vetoed ID laws passed by Republican legislatures).

Voter suppression is not new. “Historically,” Keyssar writes, “voter suppression seems to arise when organized political forces aim to restrain the political participation of particular groups but cannot, politically or constitutionally, disfranchise them outright.”

This happened in post-reconstruction South when “organized political forces” utilized violence, complex ballot arrangements, poll taxes and oral “understanding” tests to suppress votes. Today, using the clout of Tea-party Republicans elected to state legislatures and governor’s offices, Republicans are presenting the idea of voter suppression as a deterrent to fraud. But the only fraud being perpetrated here is being done by a party which sees the demographic hand-writing on the wall.

Which are the groups most likely to vote Democrat? This is not a test. Really— just skim the political surface, which?

Blacks? …Republicans being almost exclusively the party of old white guys. Hispanics? …Republicans being almost exclusively the party of old white guys. The young? …Republicans being almost exclusively the party of old white guys. Women? …Republicans being almost exclusively the party of old white guys. The elderly (well, at least those without racial animus) ?…Republicans being the party most likely to kill Social Security and Medicare.

See, that wasn’t hard; and Republican leadership has undoubtedly answered the question the same way.

Ok, now which (coincidentally) are the groups targeted by Voter ID laws?

In a nation in which the population of minorities is fast approaching the point of outnumbering old white guys the GOP is being perfectly rational in its attack on the voting rights of minorities. Grab power now, they must be thinking, while we old white guys still have an edge.

In 2010 in an article for the Smithsonian Magazine writer Joel Kotkin wrote, “…the United States of 2050 will look different from that of today: whites will no longer be in the majority. The U.S. minority population, currently 30 percent, is expected to exceed 50 percent before 2050. No other advanced, populous country will see such diversity.”

This projection is what is most likely at the heart of current Republican politics. This is what has the party of old white guys shivering in its boots. This is what’s driving it to extremes of obstructionism, plutocracy and voter suppression. Republicans are just trying to make sure they’re in a position to retain power as the demographics of the U.S. moves minorities closer to political plurality  —that and the risen consciousness of women who expect and demand equity with men across the board in politics and in the work place, and who insist on the right of sovereignty over their own bodies.

There is an inclination of very frustrated Americans to say to Democrats and Republicans, “A pox on both your houses!”and there are historical reasons to be angry at both parties (it was Southern Democrats who wrote Jim Crow laws). And corporate media nurtures this tendency.  But the fact is that today average Americans are under attack by our wealthy elite and the Republican Party is by and large the party which represents that elite, and it is the Republican party that is the problem with the U.S. government according to Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

If you happen to be among the members of that elite, or simply aspire to be, then it’s rational for you to support the GOP in its voter suppression efforts and to do your best to elect a president and representatives who will work tirelessly to promote laws that marginalize average people. This was the case in the early 20th century leading to the Great Depression, it was the case from Ronald Reagan through the Bush administration’s 30-year dive into our Great Recession, and (if the past is prologue) it will be the case as Mitt Romney, who brags about carrying yours, your broker’s, your banker’s and trickle-down econimcs’ banner, leads us to a new and Great who-knows-what?

But consider this you aspiring elites: should your plans tank (as plans often do) and you fall through the gaping cracks in our crooked system which already protects the rich, levitating them to the peaks of mountains of hoarded cash sequestered in off-shore tax havens around the globe; should you be unfortunate (or average) enough to have to work for a living instead of making a killing, who will be there to give you a leg up —John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, The Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney, the GOP?

How old are you?

Jim Culleny


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