Winter of discontent is coming

Last week’s CV featured a lengthy piece about corporate funding of the General Assembly’s members, and how it affects their votes. In a reversal of their usual pattern of filling their editorial pages with misleading syndicated content and minimal local content, this impartial op-ed was accompanied by two local letters filled with half truths.

Like Mr. Darden’s letter, “Fix the tax code” claiming Republicans controlling the House and Senate couldn’t pass any meaningful legislature because of president Obama. Does he seriously expect anyone to forget the reason they were so spectacularly ineffective, and managed to shut down the government was their obstructionism?

Or will buy his free market framing that “tax reform” somehow makes things fairer for small businesses?

When implementing policies that create more and better paying jobs will do far more to simulate the economy and help small businesses than any tax reform could, simply because people have more money in their pockets to spend.

Then again, you could keep going back to blaming the wrong guy.

Mr. Arnold’s letter,  “Executive orders out of hand” almost got it right with his claims that Presidential executive orders are a “threat to our democracy as a whole.” Along with why the Republican dominated Congress “vacated their responsibility … in the sharing of governmental power…”  Only failing to notice that Congressional Republicans never intended to share power under any circumstances, or that such reliance on executive orders is a sign of a dysfunctional government.

Or making the connection between Republicans acting “unpatriotically,” and making it their “mission to see the Obama administration failed,” and the consequences of those actions. As circular logic goes, it’s hard to beat a solution which causes the very problem it’s supposed to fix.

Now that we have a Twittler in the White House, McConnell and his Senatorial allies think they can repeal the ACA with minimal or no debate. A job made considerably easier by a corporate media, who barely reports on what is happening, allowing Republicans to get away with hypocritical claims that “you won’t be loosing coverage; you’ll be gaining freedom of choice.”

Expecting you to believe this is just like Baskins-Robbins when they run out of your favorite flavor; you have other choices, when in fact there are none.

The Republican Party has adopted intentional misinformation—propaganda—to sell policies which directly damage the public, and trying every fantasy they can think of. Like Kris Kobach’s Election Integrity Commission which asked every state for all of their voter information, including your social security number. The fact that 45 Secretaries of States, including many Republican’s told him to go “jump in a lake” says much.

With hypocrisy being a conservative virtue, it remains to be seen how many these red states have already purged enough  voters to ensure victory in future elections. And Kobach’s long and sordid history of voter suppression with his Interstate Crosscheck program is well documented.

But ridiculing Trump’s commission and blithely dismissing Kobach’s latest attempt at raising the voter fraud flag misses the longer-term Republican Party strategy. Because Kobach is such a rich target, the overseer of an interstate voter data-matching consortium whose analytics are so sloppily executed they routinely creates lists of hundreds of thousands of false positives—people purportedly voting twice because they share the same name. That allows highly partisan secretaries of state, such as Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, to claim that a crisis exists, when it doesn’t, and then seek to purge tens of thousands of Democrats from the voter rolls.

What’s really happening needs to be watched beyond the buffoonish politics of the moment and the presidential panel’s clumsy opening steps. Kobach and a handful of other Republican statewide election managers and lawyers—the same crew that were running federal election oversight under George W. Bush—have found weaknesses or ambiguities in federal election laws, like the National Voter Registration Actor the NVRA, , or “motor voter” — that outlines registration requirements and procedures, in an attempt to further restrict who can vote.

The papers visible under Kris Kobach’s arm are deportation plans from the Department of Homeland Security. And when combined with the DOJ’s NVRA compliance request its clear this administration is engaging in a coordinated effort to force the states into purging voters.

With former Justice Department officials saying that while there’s nothing notable about seeking information about compliance with the NVRA, it is unusual for the Department of Justice to send out such a broad inquiry to so many states. Such a wide probe could signal the department is broadly fishing for cases of non-compliance to bring suits aimed at purging the voter rolls.

These two letters, sent on the same day, are highly suspect, and seem to confirm that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork to suppress the right to vote,” said Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama. “It is not normal for the Department of Justice to ask for voting data from all states covered by the National Voter Registration Act. It’s likely that this is instead the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges.

Their motive is simple. They know their aging white base is a shrinking in a diversifying nation. Philosophically, they believe fewer but better qualified voters are perfectly acceptable. Make no mistake, Republicans can and will eliminate unfavorable voters everywhere they can, and such actions will be a taste of things to come.

Jon Taylor

Editor’s note: this is a modified version of a letter submitted to Louisa’s paper of record, the Central Virginian.