Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The GOP Plan: Steal it Where You Can and Buy Everything Else

You have to give it to the republicans. They go straight to the heart of the matter with all the subtlety of Vladimir Putin's final solution in Crimea.

The hand wringing, self doubt, and talk of figuring out a way to appeal to minorities after the 2012 disaster is gone now. It has been replaced by cold blooded pragmatism and a two pronged strategy which is gaining steam on both fronts.

The initial step is brutal simplicity--don't let the fuckers vote. Republican controlled state legislatures all over the place are doing everything in their power to restrict access to the polls. It is a continuation of the campaign which began prior to the 2012 election. Part one demands registered voters must secure a state ID card before casting a ballot. The argument is the ID's will stop in person voting fraud. Such a notion is prima facie bullshit and flies in the face of repeated studies by a number of groups and institutions. All the research has shown the problem simply doesn't exist--at least not in any numbers significant enough to change an election outcome, even in a single precinct.

Coupled with the ID requirements are efforts to reduce early voting periods and the hours polls are open, especially in precincts where minorities and low income voters are apt to be registered. The latest example of such chicanery occurred in Wisconsin last month. Republican Governor Scott Walker, a man mulling over a presidential run himself, signed a bill into law which reduced early voting in his state from three weeks to two and completely eliminated early voting during a weekend. A federal appeals court, which struck down a similar law in Ohio, stated in it's decision, "...early voters have disproportionately lower incomes than those who vote on election day." Going unsaid is the obvious, lower income voters also tend to cast their ballots for democrats.

So, screw 'em, they're not going to vote for us anyway. Let's clog up the pipeline to the polls and hope they either can't get off work to secure an ID, or get stuck for eight or nine hours in line at a polling place, which of course, is what happened in Florida last time out.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the second line of attack, which is tied to the almighty dollar. While the contribution limit to an individual federal candidate remains at  $2,600, the amount a big time donor can give to a variety of his or her favorites is gone. In other words, the law previously said the Koch brothers out of Wichita could only directly contribute $2,600 to single candidates of their choice up to a total of $48,600. Now they can dole out that $2,600 contribution to as many people as they want, from sea to shining sea. More importantly, the $74,600 ceiling on gifts to organizations directly controlled by political parties has been abolished.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chair, had this to say of the ruling, (it is) " important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse. When free speech is allowed to flourish our democracy is stronger."

While one might argue giving an itinerant tea party clod a huge load of greenbacks is an expression of free speech, a bunch of us would point out dollars don't equal words which are the definition of speech. Common Cause president, Miles Rapoport countered the ruling with, "This is Citizen's United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation's wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us." He went on to talk about big donor access to elected officials and the influence they have with them. You know, stuff like favorable tax breaks, sweetheart deals when it comes to granting government contracts and the like, but you get the drift. The word bribery seemed on the tip of his tongue.

The Center for Responsive Politics noted 650 donors hit the now voided $48,600 limit in 2012. 57% of the cash went to GOP candidates, while only 43% went to democrats.

All of this is in addition to the previously mentioned Citizen United ruling. It allows money of unimaginable amounts to pour into ad campaigns and other forms of support through organizations which, in name, are not directly connected to a candidate. The heavy duty and anonymous donations skew wildly in favor of republican candidates.

Indeed, why compromise with any democrat, or even try to appeal to a minority when you have a plan like this? Just bide your time while waiting for the latest edition of Jim Crow laws to dismantle the new national demographic and the fabulously financed propaganda machine to work it's vile magic.

Ultimately, the republican party has just told us they know they can't budge their right wing on any substantive issue. It is the tea party's way, or the highway. And--as the GOP leadership understands far too well, it can no longer win a fairly contested national election while it kowtows to the hard and bitter right edge.

It is, in the end, a juxtaposition of an old axiom which now reads, you can't win without 'em and you can't win with 'em.

That leaves only two available options for the party of  Warren G. Harding--steal it where you can and buy everything else. Unfortunately they have the will and means to do both.


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