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The Republicans have worked to depict the target of their ID laws as a thuggish illegal alien hell bent on taking advantage of lax election laws in order to game the democratic process. Of course we know that such individuals are entirely a figment conjured by the right-wing propaganda mill and it's time we alter the narrative.

We need to reframe the image of voter suppression. We need to substitute a new face and give her a name and a story. Let's call her Mrs. Freeman. She is an 80 year old widow whose husband Claude was an Army master sergeant who died herioically in a rice paddy in Vietnam, giving his life to save the lives of his comrades. Her son Patrick followed in his father's footsteps and also died in combat, this time in Desert Storm. These days she needs a walker to get around and it's hard for her to find a way into town. She will not be able to vote this time around because, being born in another state and not in a hospital, she has no birth certificate. On top of that the only office open that provides a free picture ID is 15 miles away and is only open the first tuesday of each month.

We need to make everyone understand how she is being bullied and when they see this true picture, the question people should ask immediately is, "How dare they?" How dare they ignore the almost incomprehensible price this woman has paid in order to secure everyone else's right to vote. How dare they try to use this kind of back door trickery to prevent her from exercising the very right her husband and son died to guarantee for all Americans. We should make it clear that someone owes Mrs. Freeman an apology and they owe it right now.

Few seem to grasp that the great vulnerability of the voter suppression movement is the fact that the very people they are targeting are the ones who have disproportionately served in the military and have made the sort of sacrifices most of the rest of us have been spared. That needs to change. We should have busloads of people like Mrs. Freeman on their way to Columbus, Harrisburg and Tallahassee holding pictures of those of their families who have given their lives, demanding meetings with Governors Kasich, Corbett and Scott so it can be explained to them why the sacrifice of their husbands and wives, sons and daughters and fathers and mothers should be dishonored in this way. The honorable governors should be asked how many of their own family members have been lost in the protection of the voting rights they are seeking to limit. This is where the narrative should reside.

They make a great deal out of trying to call voting a privilege. Only thing is that decent people understand it is they who should feel privileged to stand in the same room as Mrs. Freeman and the thousands of others who have seen their loved ones sent to die on battlefields overseas. How dare they try to tell these people who is "privileged" and who is not.

So consider the optics of 500 people like Mrs. Freeman, all sitting in a meeting room holding the pictures of their fallen loved ones, some with more than one, all waiting for the Governor to show up and explain why he is trying to make it hard for them to vote.

This would have to be a nightmare scenario for any Republican governor. His explanations and excuses would seem puny in the face of the overwhelming moral authority they would bring to the room. The people are assembled and cameras are rolling. What does he do? Does he show up himself, does he send a surrogate, does he simply ignore it. Any option is fraught with problems for him.

So here's the thing. It might not be necessary to do any of this. The threat of having it happen might well be enough to cause them to back down if the threat seems serious and if they can be made to visualize the optics. And if it is necessary for it to be done in one state, the others may automatically follow once they see what a disaster it turns out to be. And actually it would be far easier for them to back down before any confrontation than afterward, so it would be well to make them understand beforehand what might happen if they continue on this unpatriotic course.

I should make it clear that I made up the names Mrs. Freeman and Claude and Patrick but there is little doubt she represents a multitude of people who do actually exist and who are in a similar situation. Whether the name is Freeman or Alvarez or Chan we need to change the narrative and frame it as a question of repect for the sacrifices that thousands of our fellow Americans have made and we must make it clear that it is a desecration to deny voting rights to the loved ones that these patriots have left behind.  


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Originally posted to Pirogue on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


Would this be an effective tactical approach? Explanations encouraged.

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