WaPo Op-Ed: The Republican Strategy For 2020 Is To Prevent People From Voting
Republicans are working hard to limit voter turnout in November, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wrote on Sunday, because as President Donald Trump previously divulged, they know they can’t win an unimpeded election.
“What does it say about a political party when its chief strategy is to prevent as many people as possible from voting — and its leader admits as much?” Hiatt rhetorically asked at the outset.
He pointed to GOP lawmakers’ response in Iowa after the state rocked out a “highly successful primary, with record turnout” on June 2.
Republican state lawmakers “immediately initiated action to ensure the success is not repeated in the fall,” Hiatt wrote, adding: “For many Republicans, a high-turnout, no-chaos election is a result to be avoided at all costs.”
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate — a Republicans — said his “goal was to protect Iowa voters and poll workers while finding ways to conduct a clean and fair election.”
But Hiatt said that was Pate’s big mistake: “A clean and fair election? GOP senators rushed in to make sure that won’t happen again. On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled state senate approved legislation to bar Pate from sending absentee ballot request forms to anyone who hasn’t asked for one.”
Republican attempts to limit voting in the age of COVID-19 are but the latest in a long line of attempts to bar primarily young people and black people from the polls.
Many of their methods predate the coronavirus pandemic: obstructive voter-ID laws; closing polling places in selected neighborhoods so that voters must travel long distances or wait in long lines; impeding voting in college towns; finding pretexts to scrub voters from the rolls; opposing automatic or same-day registration; blocking former prisoners from voting, even when (as in Florida) nearly two-thirds of voters approve a referendum saying former felons who have served their time should be allowed to vote.
In light of the pandemic — and calls for expanding mail-in voting — Republicans “have gone into overdrive,” Hiatt wrote. “They limit access as narrowly as possible where they are in control, as in Texas; they sue where they are not, as in California.”
All of this is done under the guise of protecting U.S. elections from voter fraud.
However, Hiatt noted that “Fraud does exist — most recently, committed by Republicans in a North Carolina congressional race — but it is rare.”
Trump has hit this angle hard, but during a Fox News interview in March, Trump “gave the game away”:
Referring to a Democratic proposal to allow more vote-by-mail, he said, “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Hiatt said Republicans’ strategy is not all too puzzling, particular after it went all in on the current Oval Office occupant.
The party has hitched itself to a leader whose appeal is based on nostalgia for a racist past. In a changing America, where most voters would prefer a vision of an improved future, this is not a message that can win a majority of votes if turnout is unimpeded.
The end result has seen Republicans “do everything they can to suppress turnout, and black turnout most of all,” Hiatt wrote.
It is a strategy born of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. A political party with faith in itself and its ideas competes by offering the most attractive possible candidates and policies, and trying to win the most support.
Sadly, that is no longer the Republican way.