There are few candidates in recent memory for whom the maxim “the issue is not the issue” applies more than it does to the Duck ’n’ Hide presidential wannabe, Hillary Clinton.
Her current strategy is sensible for someone so surrounded by the stench of corruption, cronyism, and incompetence. (Is it not remarkable how a woman who lost the 2008 Democratic nomination despite unbeatable name recognition and high approval ratings, and who presided over the least distinguished tenure for a long-serving secretary of state since Cyrus Vance, was nevertheless able to maneuver herself into earning several thousand dollars a minute for uttering meaningless babble and into raising hundreds of millions of dollars for a tax dodge posing as a charity? In self-enrichment, at least, Hillary shows some skillz.)
Given the Clinton strategy, which includes refusing to answer questions from reporters and not taking positions on certain controversial issues while flip-flopping on others, literally nothing the woman says should be taken at face value.
So what are we to make of her policy tangent last week in which went on a rampage against Republicans who she claims are 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.” Clinton has made this argument before, though in slightly less aggressive terms, already anticipating using it as an election wedge. At the time, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that Hillary’s was “a polarizing pitch that ignores trends in voter turnout”; black turnout during presidential elections has been on the rise for years.
The way this dastardly Republican scheme is being enacted is through legislation requiring people to — wait for it — show identification before being allowed to vote. The horror!
Follow this liberal logic, if you can: You have to show ID to board a plane — because we want to keep people from committing terrorist acts, to cash a check — because we want to prevent theft and fraud, or to buy a beer — because we want to keep our kids from dying behind the wheel. But voting is so important that no ID should be necessary.
Clinton’s claims are based on two Democratic lies: First, that there is no voter fraud. And second, that these laws have substantially diminished minority turnout where they have been instituted.
While voter fraud may not be a huge problem in every election or in every district, in these days of so many nail-bitingly close elections, and not just for the most prominent of political offices, even a “small” amount of fraud can have large political impact. I’ll leave further discussion of fraud for you to research yourself; John Fund is one of the best sources on the issue.
Regarding the impact on turnout of Voter ID laws, the data is mixed. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) survey of studies on the issue “showed mixed effects.” That same study suggested decreased turnout in Kansas and Tennessee, which had tightened ID requirements, particularly among registered voters under the age of 23 as well as among blacks — more than among whites, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics. (The states criticized the GAO’s methodology.)
On the other hand, the left-leaning Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that after Voter ID was required to vote in Georgia, “Turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period. On the other hand, Georgia’s top elections official could not point to a single case of ballot fraud the voter ID law had prevented.”
A county-level study of Indiana following their implementation of a Voter ID law found that “there is no consistent evidence that counties that have higher percentages of minority, poor, elderly or less-educated population suffer any reduction in voter turnout relative to other counties. In fact, the estimated effect of photo ID on turnout is positive for counties with a greater percentage of minorities or families in poverty. The only consistent and frequently statistically significant impact of photo ID in Indiana is to increase voter turnout in counties with a greater percentage of Democrats relative to other counties.” (Emphasis added.)
Again, I will leave further examination of the merits of the issue to you but would suggest that the appearance of maximally uncorrupted elections is itself an important factor in encouraging turnout among all voters and solidifying respect for the contests’ results.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t really care about the issue. What she cares about — the only reason she’s picked this particular fight — is that she knows her only chance at becoming president, presuming she garners the Democratic nomination, is if at least 90 percent of black voters turn out for her in swing states like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida.
Data from within recent and prior public opinion polls don’t bode well on that score for Hillary, so she has to pretend to care about black voters — just as she pretends to care about college students, Iowa farmers, and anyone else outside of her circle of elitist cronies.
In a Fox News poll released last week, black voters were measurably more concerned than white voters about “allegations of Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty and unethical behavior” (despite being less certain that the Clintons “were selling influence to foreign contributors who made donations to the Clinton Foundation”). Strike one.
Bill Clinton may have been called the “first black president,” but Hillary is not Bill and now that we’ve actually had our first black president it is easy to imagine a letdown of enthusiasm among African-Americans seventeen months from now. Strike two.
If that letdown is of even modest size, Hillary (or any other imaginable Democrat in 2016) loses unless the GOP chooses a candidate even worse than John McCain (and much worse than Mitt Romney.)
Black voters’ favorable perception of Mrs. Clinton, at 77 percent in a recent Economist/YouGov poll, is at least 50 points higher than for most Republican candidates, but that doesn’t mean it’s high enough. In terms of Democratic voter enthusiasm, Obama is a hard act to follow.
For comparison, I examined another YouGov poll taken in April 2008.
Eighty-one percent of blacks said that Barack Obama “says what he believes” (versus “says what he thinks people want to hear”). Sixty-eight percent of blacks said they liked Obama a lot.
As for Hillary, only 33 percent of blacks thought she says what she believes and only 32 percent said they like her a lot.
There is an argument to be made that the presence of Obama in the 2008 race drove Hillary’s numbers down by comparison among blacks, but the results from one 2008 question scream “vulnerable!” when it comes to Hillary and black voters: “Do you have a favorable opinion of…?” For Hillary among blacks, fully 36 percent offered either somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable as their response. For Obama, that number was eight percent. Indeed, Hillary’s unfavorability among blacks was closer to John McCain’s 52 percent than it was to the stratospheric support for Obama. Strike three.
Again, while the absence of Obama on the ballot in 2016 won’t offer the literally black-and-white comparison between Democrat candidates to draw black voters’ attention, it’s inconceivable that on her own merits Hillary Clinton is more popular among blacks in 2016 than she was then.
And if Republicans (or SuperPACs supporting Republicans) are smart, they’ll continue to remind Democratic voters, and especially blacks, of the things Hillary said during the 2008 primary contest in which she, as one liberal blogger put it, “turned off all blacks.”
With the not-soon-enough departure of Barack Obama from the White House, a handful of courageous blacks are suggesting publicly that African-American voters consider voting Republican.
In March, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN said, “What I dream is that for one election, just one, every black person in America vote Republican.” This isn’t necessarily because he’s a conservative but rather that he believes — correctly — that Democrats take the black vote for granted and Republicans think they have no chance at it so don’t focus enough on blacks’ interests. (As to whether or why those should be different interests than those of other Americans, that is a subject for another day.)
Smith showed his trademark intensity when asking, “When you go buy a house, do you look at one? When you are looking for a car do you look at one? When you want to buy some clothes, when you want to buy some shoes, you’re looking around! …We don’t do that with politics, and we blame white America for our disenfranchisement, but it is us! Because all we have to do is upset the apple cart by not doing what’s predictable and it will force everyone to pay attention to us…”
Former NBA star Charles Barkley told Sports Illustrated in February, “I like some of the Republicans this time around.” When the reporter followed up by asking “What about Hillary Clinton?” Barkley responded with a laugh, “Well, I just told you I was thinking about voting Republican.”
And just last week, Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks pronounced that “African Americans have been loyal to the Democratic Party. But there is a group of African Americans that feel like the Democratic Party has not been loyal to us.” He added that Democrats “have a failing plan. A business owner wouldn’t allow the person who runs it to remain in charge for 50 years, constantly running it into the ground.”
And this brings us back to Hillary Clinton’s cynically hitching herself to the issue of Voter ID laws. Sure, if she believes (despite evidence to the contrary) that they have substantial dampening effect on black turnout, she — like almost every Democrat — would oppose them.
But even the most negative analysis of the impact of such laws on black turnout pales in comparison to the decline in turnout Hillary (along with those Democratic candidates relying on presidential coattails) faces in 2016 in part because Hillary is not Barack, and in part because Hillary is, well, Hillary.
And so she turns to Voter ID not by saying simply that it would disproportionately keep blacks from voting — something for which there is a very marginal case to be made — but rather by casting it as an intentional and racist Republican “sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color.”
This isn’t problem-solving. It’s the essence of the politics of division, something Bill Clinton didn’t particularly engage in (at least not more than the average Democrat) but which Barack Obama has mastered.
That in itself says much about the Hillary Clinton candidacy, about her intention to be less like her husband who eventually accepted Republican proposals for economically successful policy changes (such as lowering the capital gains tax and reforming work requirements for welfare, for which he now takes credit) and to be more like our current president, a man who never stops thinking of Republicans as “our enemies” and has never deigned to compromise on a single issue of importance.
Hillary Clinton is a pant-suited distillation of cynicism, condescension, and self-enrichment. The fact that her first appeal to black voters was this one demonstrates that she cares not a whit for their economic prospects, for improving the chances of getting a job or of their children attending a school that won’t trap the next African-American generation in poverty. (If you think I’m exaggerating, look at the behavior of Democrats in trying to gut the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and the heroic insistence of Speaker of the House John Boehner on saving it.)
For Hillary, blacks are simply a tool, like the Clinton Foundation, like her sinecure as secretary of state, to be used to help her reach her own aims, to again sleep in the White House, to again besmirch its dignity by treating the Lincoln Bedroom as if she’d listed it on Fat Cat Donor AirBnB, and to once again bring her own personal petty fiefdom into the executive branch giving us another four or eight years of scandal and corruption and “are we really doing this again?!?”
I can’t prejudge the reaction of the African-American community to this most distasteful of candidates, but I look forward to the day when another stereotype-challenging black opinion leader challenges black fealty to Democrats and to Mrs. Clinton, perhaps asking her, “Is this really the best idea you have for us?”
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