Those Republicans! Here’s the lowdown on ’em — and on their lousy, lowdown approach to governing.
They don’t want the wrong people voting. They’re “scared of letting citizens have their say.”
They’re engaged in “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.” Don’t you just want to kick ’em? Don’t you just want to vote for Hillary Clinton? Which after all is the point of Clinton’s demagogic tirade last week — getting you to vote for her so she can launch new and better demagogic tirades.
Moving up the road from this latest Clinton tour de force shouldn’t be hard. The Clinton view of the right to vote is that it exists to put Clintons in office, rather than to affirm faith in the power of free, unimpeded voter choice.
“Mrs. Clinton’s early and aggressive stance on voting rights,” reported the New York Times, “could help bolster her liberal credentials and energize black voters.” She excoriated Republican-sponsored state laws meant to guarantee the integrity of the polling place by requiring voters to present government-issued identification. She called for tighter federal oversight of state election laws. She pushed for automatic voter registration at age 18 and creation of a three-week window for voting. None of these policies enjoys Republican favor because — you know — Republicans are against the people.
Something probably tells us this is going to be a long election cycle.
Likely we owe thanks to Clinton for sharing with us a glimpse of her governing philosophy, inasmuch as she hasn’t vouchsafed any wisdom on foreign policy or foreign trade agreements or the seething Middle East or much of anything.
Voting policy seems a freebie for her. Where’s the danger in sticking your neck out for the right to express your democratic choice concerning those who govern you?
Never a woman of nuance, Clinton endeavors to paint with bold, bright strokes the portrait of this basic right to vote. You could listen to a little of this stuff and find yourself asking why we shouldn’t be allowed to vote any time of day or year during some permanent election cycle. Automatic voter registration? Maybe the cops (when not beating up black teenagers) should frog-march us all to the polls and make us vote.
There isn’t much idealism in Clinton’s conception of voting. Political realism would be something else — the clobbering of presumed opponents.
The founding generation saw things differently. Voting mattered most when done freely with eyes and minds open; when done intelligently, discerningly, with thought and preparation. We all know the human race and its, shall we say, shortcomings. We know the brawls and bribes that can disfigure the right to vote. We understand without necessarily enumerating the steps and protections necessary for making sure that votes truly reveal the popular will — that which voters want — as contrasted with what leaders and mouthpieces say they ought to want. Clinton seems less worried about techniques and procedures seen as essential to this end than she is about engineering outcomes that would let her express our thoughts for us.
The voting issue, in her mouth, shows itself as just that, an issue. A means of getting us to work our will the way she prefers it worked. The objective of an honest electoral outcome supportive of democratic self-government disappears in rhetorical catsup.
This “scared of letting citizens have their say” stuff isn’t a peony clump fresh from Hillary Clinton’s garden — the ancient Greeks, after all, gave us the word “demagoguery” — but her moral evasions serve notice of the test that democratic ideals will face in 2016. We’re going to hear all manner of assertions that call into question the very notion of honestly offering the people honest choices as to the kind of government they want.
The notion — a heroic notion — will stand. But maybe not without some battering, some loss of leaves and branches.
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