Friday, April 11, 2014

Last Call For Voter Suppression

In what may have been his most important speech in some time, President Obama spoke on the issue of GOP voter suppression as the keynote speaker at a meeting of Rev. Al Sharpton's voter action group, the National Action Network.  He pulled no punches either, ripping into Republicans over making voting harder for no benefit other than to themselves.

The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud,” Obama said, in a speech to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York — an organization that he said should serve as a national model for organizing people around voting, led by a man who deserved “a big round of applause.”

The voting rights argument is a key element of the White House’s strategy to have the president focus on boosting base turnout for the midterms, especially among core Obama voters.

“There are well-organized and well-funded efforts to undo [the] gains” of the civil rights movement, Obama told the largely African-American crowd. “Just as inequality feeds on justice, opportunity requires justice, and justice requires the right to vote.”

Democrats face a different landscape than they did in 2012, when they had the benefits of running against new voting laws that were being challenged in court without having to worry as much about their voters actually being blocked.

The laws are on the books. Obama isn’t on the ballot. And the party needs an issue that can rile up the base, raise money from the grassroots, rally volunteers and form a rhetorical entry point to a larger argument about how Republican policies are hurting the constituencies most threatened by voting restrictions.

The right to vote — what kind of political platform is that? Why would you make that a part of your agenda, preventing people from voting? How can you defend that?” Obama said. “This recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties. It’s being led by the Republican Party.”

That last paragraph there is the best case yet anyone in this administration has put forth as to what the true nature of the GOP voter ID effort really is:  voter suppression in order to lower turnout of traditionally Democratic voting groups.  For President Obama to publicly acknowledge this and then publicly rebuke the GOP for doing it (he later recounted the whole birther nonsense and had a good laugh along with the audience) was not only necessary but vital to our voting system.

Long-time readers will know that I harp on voting and voting rights weekly in this space.  There's a reason for that.  It's literally the last gasp of the current Republican party, the last weapon they have in order to stay in power.  They talk of "outreach" and "reconciliation" with minority groups, particularly black and Latino voters, and then make it harder for all voters to vote in a way that falls most on the shoulders of voters of color.

So to hear the President call the GOP out on this is nothing short of historic.  We need to make sure that we exercise that vote, so the people trying to take that right away do not gain more political power.

Here's the video of the speech:

The Brutus To Orange Julius

The National Journal's Tim Alberta reports there's now a serious push by the hard right lunatics in the House to oust John Boehner as Speaker and put the House in full crazy mode for the last two years of President Obama's term.  Apparently backing Cantor as a replacement is no longer an option:

But there's a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won't have the votes to be reelected in January.

The masterminds of this mutiny are trying to stay in the shadows for as long as possible to avoid putting a target on their backs. But one Republican said the "nucleus"of the rebellion can be found inside the House Liberty Caucus, of which he and his comrades are members. This is not surprising, considering that some of the key players in that group—Justin Amash of Michigan, Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky—were among the 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner's reelection in January 2013.

Amash, chairman of the Liberty Caucus, warned at the time that there would be a "larger rebellion" down the road if Boehner's leadership team did not bring conservatives into the fold. Such an insurrection never materialized, however, as Boehner deftly navigated a series of challenges last year and wound up winning over some of the malcontents.

But conservatives, increasingly irritated with what they see as a cautious approach taken by their leadership, are now adamant that Boehner's tenure should expire with this Congress.

"There are no big ideas coming out of the conference. Our leadership expects to coast through this election by banking on everyone's hatred for Obamacare," said one Republican lawmaker who is organizing the rebellion. "There's nothing big being done. We're reshuffling chairs on the Titanic."

It's clear these nutjobs not only expect to have full control of Congress, but full control of the agenda as well.  A lurch to the insane right from the hard right now would be a political gift to President Obama for sure, but a disaster for the country.

And yeah, if Boehner is replaced with someone even crazier than Eric Cantor, you can bet it'll be 1999 all over again, impeachment proceedings and all.

Ryan Cooper over at The Week says the Tea Party folks have no chance to unseat Boehner, because who would want his job?

This, of course, is Boehner's ace in the hole. Anyone credible and ambitious enough to become speaker also realizes that taking the job would be a horrible mistake. Why? Because House ultraconservatives are constantly making completely unreasonable demands, then blaming the leadership when they don't get the impossible.
We'll see, but I'm learning towards Cooper rather than Alberta on this.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

RNC chair and GOP head Reince Priebus:

Yes, the champion of civil rights.

Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), the tea party favored candidate to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran who seems to be in the habit of associating with white nationalists and neo-Confederates, vowed not to pay taxes if they go up because of reparations over slavery and mocked complaints of racism over an ad depicting a white woman holding down a black woman.

McDaniel, while riffing on a shock jock radio program in late 2006 or early 2007, compared rapper Vanilla Ice to a minstrel show performer and pondering when it's appropriate to refer to a woman as "Mamacita." The Wall Street Journal was able to obtain a clip of McDaniel making the remarks.

Yes, the party of abolitionists.

Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

And the party of voting rights, too.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.

“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.

They're the party of civil rights, alright.  Curtailing them at every opportunity to preserve the dwindling power of white voters as the majority in this country.


Related Posts with Thumbnails