Re what Paul Ryan had to say in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia today: if the GOP really wants to seize the high ground on civil liberties, how about defending “one person, one vote” by defending America against partisan gerrymandering? How about defending America against vote suppression? How about defending America against the carnage happening every day by appropriating some real money to reduce opioid addiction and deaths–and pass some laws that regulate the ability of drug companies to push crazy amounts of opiates into little towns all over Appalachia and California and Florida and New Hampshire? How about defending the respect for rule of law that was a big part of what actually made the United States of America as great as it is?
Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell: have you read the memoirs of Franz von Papen lately? Do you care at all about defending our liberal democracy (small “l” and small “d”) from illiberal would-be tyrants? Yes you do know exactly what I am talking about. Franz von Papen and his fellow “conservative” aristocrats enabled extreme radicalism in Germany by convincing themselves that they could easily manipulate the vulgar and clownish Hitler. Yes, Nazi analogies are alarmist and hazardous, but you, Ryan and McConnell, know very well what you’re up to, you know you’re enabling Trump when you tolerate and tacitly encourage people like Devin Nunes. You know that when Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, is not allowed to look at the Nunes memo, something rotten is going on. You don’t want to be lumped in with Breitbart and Alex Jones, but that’s where you are now.
So Republicans believe in “sovereign states.” Right. Unless Donnie and Kris and Hans want to poke their bloody noses into states’ voting records. So they can “attaint” and target everybody who is not yet loyal to His Excellency Mr. Trump? And only 24 states have flipped off the Voter Suppression Commission so far? Shame on you, states who have not stood up for your voters yet. If Mississippi can tell Trump and Company to go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, so can you! If Kris Kobach qua Kansas Secretary of State can flip off Kris Kobach qua Vote-Suppresser-in-Chief, there is still hope.
Would it be too much to ask to look at the president’s 2017 tax returns? Got something to hide, guy?
Update July 5: over 40 states have now said “hell yes, we have something to hide from the feds.” President Trump has not yet threatened them with intracontinental ballistic missiles.
It is not hard to imagine some Supreme Court justices pleased as punch with the new vote suppression laws in Texas and North Carolina. They are 1877 lite, and at least four justices seem fine with the latter-day return to rules that make it harder for the wrong kind of people to vote. North Carolina GovernorPat McCrory expressed this pretty transparently in a radio interview with WUNC today when he compared the voter identification bill to measures that require identification to collect public benefits such as food stamps. Hard to speak in racial code any better than that. The governor also said “I frankly think our right to vote deserves similar protection that we’re giving to Sudafed.” I frankly think Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, and Rick Perry of Texas are all nervous that you, Pat McCrory, might outflank them on the far right edge of political discourse.
More important–assuming a stable lineup on the Supreme Court–is whether Anthony Kennedy will be concerned enough about how he is remembered fifty years from now to climb down from the perhaps well-intentioned but–if so–politically naive decisions in Shelby and Citizens United. President Obama and Attorney General Holder can do quite a bit to mitigate the vote suppression efforts that began within a couple of hours after the Shelby opinion, but, Justice Kennedy, only you can decide the historical role you will pay in making the right to vote real, or not.