Is 2012 the year that Democrats can recover their own after the debilitating Republican wave of 2010 that flipped the House and almost lost them the senate?
Democrats say “of course,” at least, if the GOP continues pushing unpopular plans like ending Medicare and gutting social services to keep the wealthy even wealthier. As one Democratic strategist told Politico, “I definitely feel the conversation has shifted,” said Ali Lapp, executive director of House Majority PAC, a Democratic-allied outside group that plans to be involved in the 2012 races. “Before, people thought of the House as an afterthought to the races for the White House and the Senate. Now, there’s talk that we can take this thing back.”
So how will Republicans make sure they don’t lose the upper hand? No, it’s not about a change in course to promote legislation that might benefit more Americans. Instead, they’ll use their massive wins in the states to do something better — help disenfranchise voters, primarily those likely to vote Democrat, to ensure they don’t give up their gains.
From voter ID laws meant to stop same day registration, college students, new voters and seniors, all of whom tend to favor Democrats, to ballot initiatives meant to stir up their base like abortion and gay marriage bans, Republicans are working hard on the theory that the less people who can vote, and the more red meat they provide for their GOP loyals, the more likely it is that things will turn out in their favor.
Their initiatives come in many forms. The most common, requiring voters to show identification, has been proposed this year in more than 35 states; some such measures also require proof of citizenship. Other bills would restrict voting by college students or felons, limit voter registration or cut back early voting — all typically Democratic voting blocs.
The arguments are conducted in a type of code, with Democrats fretting about voter suppression and Republicans stressing the integrity of the voting process. But the party-line debates and votes over such bills indicate what they’re really about: Getting more votes in the high-stakes presidential election on the horizon.
Is it any wonder that with all of the new initiatives meant to discourage voting, from demanding IDs, something that could adversely affect the elderly or the poor, or demanding citizenship proof, a clear case of race-based targeting, that Democrats are crying out that the Jim Crow laws are coming back in force? As new DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz complained: “[I]f you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and — and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did that in the America Votes Act and made sure that we could iron out those kinks, now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally — and very transparently — block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it’s nothing short of that blatant.”
How can you ensure Republican victory in 2012 without them being forced to give up their draconian system for balancing the budget on the back of the poor? Let the Republicans be the only ones to easily cast a vote, of course.