10 to 1, or the Problem with Suppressing the Vote

One of the things I find the most interesting in Republican politics today is that by name and reference they have pretty much completely abandoned George W. Bush. You may hear them invoke Reagan, but not Bush. And yet, the policies they are pushing aren’t Reagan’s. No, they are a complete doubling down on the policies of George Bush. Cut taxes, destroy social security, give corporations more rights and more money. Everything they push and sign pledges about is straight out of the Bush playbook.
You’ve probably by now seen the clip from last night’s Republican debate in Iowa where every candidate present rose their hand to say they would reject any plan that had $10 in spending cuts for every one dollar of tax increases. Not raising taxes is an absolute.
Of course, whoever eventually gets the nomination will then have to try to find a way to tack to the center to have any chance to win a general election. The crazy absolutist stance is only good to win low turnout winner take all Republican primaries. For a generation Republicans have understood their best chance of winning elections is to have the fewest possible voters come to the polls. Go to youtube and search for Paul Weyrich, a right-wing preacher who helped found the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and others. You’ll hear him explain very clearly that elections aren’t won by having everyone vote; they’re won by having as few voters as possible.
That has worked for them in general elections. Probably they are wondering now about the law of unintended consequences, and how pushing turnout so low in their own primaries has skewed their candidates so far from the mainstream, so far from the average American. When only the most extreme members of your party vote, that is who the candidates have to pander to. If the eventual Republican nominee still raises his hand to say he wouldn’t accept a dollar in taxes on the rich in exchange for ten dollars in tax cuts, even the afraid to fight Obama will destroy them. They know that. Somewhere, Mitt Romney has aides trying to come up with a plausible strategy for changing course once he has the nomination. (It’s probably easier for Mitt than the other candidates, as he has changed his position on so many things so many times he probably has a standing committee to figure such things out).
Democrats, of course, believe in democracy, and having as many people vote as possible. I would say that we should be like most other democracies and do away with voter registration, and let people vote merely by the act of being a citizen. Republicans, of course, don’t want the poor and minorities to vote, and would have none of that.

About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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