It’s a simple, bedrock understanding — democracy only stands a chance when citizens vote. So what’s going on when obstacles are laid out to keep voters from voting?
And is anyone ACTUALLY confused by what’s going on?
Of course, we’re thinking about this now because the U.S. Supreme Court has just screwed up the Voting Rights Act, substituting its own (5-4) view for the view of Congress, making it easier for states to play anti-democracy games at election time.
Now, because of this latest decision, we will witness another wave of schemes boiling up in the various states, designed to restrict legitimate voters from actually voting. In fact, it’s already well underway These schemes will make voting harder in various ways — harder to vote absentee, or harder if you’re young, or harder if you’re poor, or harder if you’re going to school, or harder if you don’t own a car, and on and on.
And often times the cover story for restricting voting will be the supposed fear of “voter fraud” (voter impersonation), even when no voter fraud is to be found.
People understand that this is all malarkey. The game is not exactly “clever”. Yes, the game will uncover a handful of honest dupes, gullible and easily excitable, genuinely afraid that Mexicans are getting Obama-cars and free money to impersonate dead voters in Racine and Kenosha. Or whatever. But people in general understand what’s really going on. The Republican Party isn’t doing well with certain groups like young people, poor people, black people, brown people, yellow people, union members, and women (to name a few), and so they’re making it harder for those people to vote.
Certainly the politicians themselves know exactly what’s going on in this dirty game. And — except for a few hyper-credulous dupes as noted above — the vast majority of Republican voters also know that “voter fraud” is a stratagem and a canard, but they hold their noses, and they stick together, and the cover story of voter fraud limps on.
What about journalists? Can they find the fraud in the picture? Well, presumably yes, quite easily. But how will they report it? Will they avoid the obvious? That’s a recipe for slowly piddling away their own credibility. Most people get what’s going on, and why.
For the editorial page, it’s much, much worse. They have no need to be neutral. In fact, they’re expected to call things out. If they cannot recognize or discuss imaginary claims of voter fraud in honest terms, then the editorial operation simply hemorrhages credibility.
Of course, there’s more than two ways to flub up the voter fraud story. News operations can just ignore it. They can opine on the editorial page that it’s not important (even as the GOP is flying to get it done). They can mention it but quickly move on. They can blur the facts, calling it “partisan wrangling”. They can mis-weigh the evidence.
But eventually, flubbing up an otherwise easy “voter fraud” story WILL have a bad effect.