Over the past year, militia groups stormed state capitols wielding guns and making political demands. Following Donald Trump's election loss, his supporters routinely resorted to making death threats to election workers in order to get the 2020 results overturned. Then came the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as Trump's cultists made a last-ditch effort to nullify Trump's loss. Now Republican lawmakers in the states have taken up the cause legislatively, with 14 states passing some two dozen almost entirely partisan laws designed to restrict voting access and disadvantage specific demographic groups that largely vote for Democrats.
Nothing to see here, says Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team.
“I haven’t understood for four or five years why we are so quick to spin into a place where part of the country is sure that we no longer have the strength to move forward, as we always have in the past,” Blunt told the New York Times, topping off his nonchalance with a bogus bothsideism. “Four years ago, there were people in the so-called resistance showing up in all of my offices every week, some of whom were chaining themselves to the door.”
Even-steven! Democratic activists get riled up and chain themselves to a door while GOP activists show up with guns, bear spray, body armor, zip ties, erect a gallows, and shout "Hang Mike Pence!"
GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania went a step further, offering that Democrats were the real problem for pointing out the overtly partisan racist nature of these election laws.
“I hope that damage isn’t being done,” he added, “but it is always very dangerous to falsely play the race card and let’s face it, that’s what’s being done here.”
If the shoe fits...
Toomey suggested the new laws were just a means of course correcting after many states liberalized laws during the pandemic to make voting safe. Now they needed to be tightened again in order to get "everybody confident about the authenticity of the votes." It's clearly of no concern to him that next-to-no instances of actual fraud have been found in the 2020 elections, even in states where multiple recounts took place and where lawmakers offered cash rewards for verifiable instances of fraud.
So disenfranchising voters is apparently the price that has to be paid for a GOP electorate that is awash in election conspiracy theories fomented by Trump and his Republican allies.
In fact, Toomey said, making access to voting easier for everyone is exactly what made Trump's baseless disinformation "more likely to resonate because you had this system that went so far the other way.”
Idk, Toomey—how about the fact that Republican Party leaders did nothing to dispel Trump's lies but rather embraced them, echoed them, and have now lent them legitimacy through the power of legislating? Perhaps that helped make Trump's disinformation campaign resonant?
And then there's the Rand Paul wing of the GOP duplicity suggesting that suppressing votes is a perfectly reasonable way to lock in the rule of a minority party because ... Jim Crow.
“The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for,” Sen. Paul of Kentucky explained. “The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others.”
Just to be clear, Paul is saying that suppressing the votes of Black Democrats today in order to protect the minority rights of GOP voters is the perfect antidote to Black voter suppression in the Jim Crow era.
Nearly 200 scholars of history and political science beg to differ with these Republican diversions. “Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations,” they wrote in a statement of concern earlier this month about the urgent threat to American democracy posed by these GOP laws sweeping the nation.
Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, a former lecturer on American politics at Bowdoin College agrees with those scholars. “This is an incredibly dangerous moment, and I don’t think it’s being sufficiently realized as such,” he said, noting that American democracy runs against the tide of human history that almost always ebbs back toward authoritarianism.
King told the Times that he had spoken to many of his GOP counterparts in the Senate about this precarious moment but they were simply too spineless to do anything about it because they still live in fear of Trump. “I get the feeling they hope this whole thing will go away,” he said. “They make arguments, but you have the feeling their hearts aren’t in it.”