Jonah Goldberg: Republican stance on voting rules does not amount to war on democracy


What a mess.

Democrats (and their allies in the media) have convinced themselves that the Republican Party is at war with democracy.

Republicans (and their allies in the media) have convinced themselves that the Democratic Party is at war with democracy.

They are both wrong, albeit in very different ways.

Let’s set the scene. For years, Democrats have been determined to make voting as easy as possible. The pandemic offered a unique opportunity to do so, as mass gatherings were deemed dangerous. So various states, including those led by Republicans, have relaxed the rules on absences and early voting. Democracy must continue and all that.

These changes were, in my opinion, quite reasonable although there were some problems in their implementation. In some states, changes have not been made by the state legislature, but by governors and judges. Republicans made no legal objections when they had standing to do so and only complained after Trump was defeated.

In the wake of the 2020 election, members of Trump’s team claimed the changes were proof that the election was stolen from him. (They also spat out a host of insane conspiracy theories involving everything from Chinese to Venezuelan computer hacking of fake North Korean ballots.)

Partly because of Trump’s false claims and partly because they believed the pandemic voting rules were extraordinary measures that should not be made permanent, state-level Republicans decided that they had to prove that they took “electoral integrity” seriously.

They mistakenly thought it was a brilliant political strategy that would allow them to sidestep Trump’s lies while appeasing his constituents. Instead, they found themselves ratifying Trump’s lies and annoying his supporters by not going far enough.

Yet most of the measures that have been enacted into law are reasonable. Indeed, in many states, voting will be easier than before the pandemic.

But Democrats stuck to a scenario that ignores this reality. Instead, they insist that any tightening of the pandemic rules is a head-on attack on democracy. President Biden and a host of other Democrats, as well as legions of liberal experts, say the changes represent a “Jim Crow Assault in the 21st Century” on democracy, in Biden’s words.

Consider one of the few restrictions on voting that is actually stricter than the pre-pandemic standard: voter ID for mail-in ballots. This is one of the issues that has prompted a group of Texas Democratic lawmakers to flee the state and chant “We Shall Overcome” rather than allow voting measures to be passed by the US-controlled legislature. republicans.

Now you may think that is bad policy. (I don’t.) But how the hell that equates to Jim Crow is a mystery to me. Put aside the fact that a majority of African Americans support the requirement for voter ID. Ignore the fact that Texas already required ID for in-person voting. It seems a long way from a system that sanctioned lynching, segregation and apartheid.

BET TV asked Vice President Kamala Harris what was so terrible about identifying voters for postal voting.

“There are a lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t have (have access to photocopiers),” Harris explained. “There is no Kinko, there is no Office Max near them.”

Whatever you think of the claim that photocopiers are scarce – pretty much every cell phone has a camera, by the way – there’s another problem. Rural America is about 78% white, according to government statistics, and this is where Republicans outperform. Trump beat Biden 2-1 in rural counties and Trump destroyed Biden in rural Texas.

Are we to believe that a restriction that disproportionately affects the GOP’s white rural base is tantamount to Jim Crow? Truly?

Or consider eliminating drive-thru voting, as some Republicans want. Voters couldn’t vote this way in 2018. Was it Jim Crow? If so, Barack Obama, the first black president, was elected by a country Jim Crow.

It is so absurd.

Claims that Republicans are at war with democracy are ludicrous when directed against these various bills – even if some of the changes are ill-advised or unnecessary.

But they carry weight when they target Trump himself. He is the first modern president to openly reject the legitimacy of an election. And because of his stranglehold on the party, Republicans have stuck into a ridiculous dead end that gives Democrats all the ammunition and permission they need to make ridiculous claims that, among other things, reduce the real Jim Crow’s moral horrors to electoral trivialities. .

Shame on everyone.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and host of The Remnant podcast. His Twitter handle is @JonahDispatch

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