GOP public enemy #1
isn't the act of a party confident in itself and its future:
Gov. Pat McCrory Monday signed into law a bill requiring voters to produce a photo ID when they go to the polls, a measure that was hailed by Republicans as a means for heightening ballot security but which was criticized by Democrats as a thinly disguised effort at voter suppression.
The measure signed by McCrory also reduces the early voting period by a week, ends early voting on Sunday, ends same-day voter registration, and does away with pre-registration of 16 and 17-year olds.
Voter ID is a legitimately popular policy. People figure that if they have to show their ID for so much that they do—from going to school, to driving, to walking into their office, to cashing a check, etc—why shouldn't people have to show their ID for something as important as voting? No matter the substantive arguments against it, fact is, Republicans are on solid ground proposing and pushing it.
It's the most popular way for them to suppress the Democratic vote. And had North Carolina Republicans stopped there, there's little detractors could've said but curse at them.
But they didn't stop there. They also reduced the opportunity of North Carolinians to participate in the vote, even if they had that magical photo ID. They cut early hours. They got rid of that Sunday voting day (where black churches organized parades down to the polls after services). They made it harder for people to participate by getting rid of same-day registration. They made it harder for young voters to participate by eliminating pre-registration.
Those are not the tactics of a party confident it can win the majority of the state's vote in free, fair and open elections. Those are the tactics of a party that is afraid of its own citizens, aware that the only way it can maintain its hold on power is by disenfranchising large percentages of the voting population. Those are the tactics of fear, the politics of exclusion.
And you can tell by McCrory's own post-signing statement:
“North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot,” McCrory said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this legislation into law. Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote."
He'll defend photo ID because, like noted, it's politically popular. But the rest of that stuff? He's going to pretend it doesn't exist. He's too embarrassed to mention it, too afraid to highlight the true intent of this legislation.
The GOP is becoming demographically extinct. It has two ways of remaining electorally relevant: 1) it changes ideology, and fat chance of that, or 2) it subverts democracy by creating structural barriers to free and fair elections, like gerrymandering, disenfranchisement (like caging), or physical barriers (like a dearth of voting machines in urban precincts, plentiful ones in suburban ones).
But make no mistake—they don't do this out of strength, but out of recognition of their waning popularity in a dramatically changing America. And when a political party becomes afraid of the voters, it has lost any moral authority it might've ever claimed.