Let’s talk about voting in the U.S.. Back in 1980, Paul Weyrich said on video the following words:
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
In other words, if we stop them from voting, we win!
But who is this Weyrich person? Paul Weyrich was a leading figurehead in the New Right movement of the last few decades. He co-founded the conservative think tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). You may have heard of these organization. If you haven’t, please do a search online to learn more about their influence on American politics.
The U.S. has always been very open about their disdain for democracy. Weyrich’s thoughts are not original or new. Laws restricting voters from participating in the electoral process go back to the days of the Founding Fathers. Heck, even those on the Left have been caught trying to suppress democracy. Please see The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission
So why am I writing about this? Because the Conservative/Republican movements in this country have been following Weyrich’s advice to the letter:
In August 2016, a series of court rulings struck down new voting restrictions in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. A three-judge panel found North Carolina’s law targeted African Americans, quote, “with almost surgical precision,” unquote. The judges found the legislators wrote the law after requesting data that showed African Americans disproportionately used early voting in both 2008 and 2012. Judge Diana Motz wrote, quote, “We cannot ignore the recent evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a federal judge has struck down a string of Wisconsin voting restrictions passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker. U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote that the objective of the law was to, quote, “suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.” A week earlier, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down a Texas law which has been described as the nation’s most restrictive voter ID law. In a 9-to-6 ruling, the court found the law has, quote, “a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights,” unquote.
Here’s what North Carolina try to pass: They didn’t just require strict voter ID. They cut back on early voting. They eliminated same-day voter registration. They eliminated out-of-precinct voting. They eliminated pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. This wasn’t about stopping voter fraud. This was about voter suppression. It was about suppressing black votes!
Here’s the most fascinating part. Beginning in 2000, when North Carolina adopted progressive reforms, like early voting and same-day registration, voter participation increased dramatically.
North Carolina went from 37th in voter turnout in 2000 to 12th in voter turnout by 2012. And most importantly, the disparities between black and white voters were eliminated, black registration and turnout actually increased over white registration in 2008 and in 2012. It was at that very moment that the North Carolina Legislature decided to go after all of the different voting methods that were used by African Americans. The Fourth Circuit basically said this was not a coincidence: The Legislature knew what had increased political participation, they knew what had increased black turnout, and those were the very voting methods that the Legislature decided to eliminate.
Forget 1865 or 1965. This is in 2016! Weyrich would be proud.
So, Yes! We can say with full confidence that restricting voter turnout is a key component of Republican electoral success. Plain, simple, and for all to see.