Friday, October 18, 2013

Republicans aren’t going to win too many contested elections without cheating; so, naturally, they’re cheating

A Republican will never be elected President of the United States again in my lifetime. Now, admittedly, I’m an old codger with limited years of breathing left to me, but I’m betting I have around 15 years left in me.

And a Republican is not going to win the presidency again in the next 15 years, perhaps even in the next 30 unless there is a massive transformation in that party.

What’s more, Republicans know this. Especially Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives know this. That’s why they shut down the government. It had nothing to do with Obamacare — that was just the handy, as the great Alfred Hitchcock called it, McGuffin. House Republicans, realizing they are not going to win another Presidential election perhaps even in Ted Cruz’s lifetime, shut down the government in a disastrous and failed attempt to render the office of President powerless and invest more power into their representative body. Their thinking was that Republican state legislatures, like the one here in Texas, have gerrymandered House districts to such a degree that it would require all-time stupidity on their part to lose their House majority. (They may have blundered into such a scenario, but that’s a topic for another day.)

The 2012 Presidential election painted a vivid picture of a new American electorate — an electorate that is more like the country’s growing minority-majority population, an electorate dominated by African-Americans, Hispanics and women vitally concerned with issues concerning controlling their own health choices. This electorate is not going to vote Republican and House Republicans know this.

But, of course, they can always try to cheat the system and you’re seeing that more and more today. That cheating is taking place in three ways. First, not content with simply gerrymandering to insure white male Republicans maintain their edge, GOP legislatures are passing voter suppression laws to prevent Democrats from voting. Look at the draconian voter suppression laws recently passed in Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, laws that are so blatant in North Carolina and Texas that they are being challenged by the Justice Department.

Second, Republicans are staging voter purges to remove Democrats from the list of registered voters. This is being conducted most prominently by Republican state leaders in Florida and Virginia, two states posed to get rid of their Republican governors in the next election cycle and replace them with Democrats, unless those governors can succeed in removing those pesky Democrats from the rolls of qualified voters. Nowhere is this more blatant than in Virginia where the state’s chief elections officer, its attorney general, has ordered the purge of 38,870 individuals from the rolls of eligible voters. Why? Because that attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, is also the Republican nominee for governor (he’s the first Virginia elected official in 35 years not to resign his office while running for another elected position) and, with just a few weeks to go before the election, polls show Cuccinelli running about eight percentage points behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Now off-year elections always have low voter turnouts and Republicans always fare better when turnouts are low, so Cuccinelli personally preventing 38,000 potential McAuliffe voters from going to the polls is a very big deal.

Third, Republicans are trying to change the way Presidents are elected. These Republican legislatures are drafting laws that would eliminate the winner-takes-all-the-state’s-Electoral-College-votes system and replace it with Electoral College voting being apportioned among the state’s congressional districts. If that law had been in place in the last Presidential Election, Mitt Romney would have won the Presidency with 83 more electoral votes than Barack Obama, even though Obama won the popular vote by more than five million.

So even Republicans know they can’t win without cheating. Let’s look at those Republicans who are considered right this minute to be the leading contenders in the 2016 Presidential election. They are Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. I don’t think I left anyone off that list. The first four names on that list shamed themselves last night by voting to keep the U.S. government closed (a closure that, according to Standard & Poor’s, cost the American economy $24 billion) and plunge the country into economic chaos. A snowball stands more of a chance of surviving for 30 seconds in a running microwave oven than anyone who cast a vote against re-opening the government has of winning the Presidency. As for Christie, I don’t think the whackos who control the GOP nominating process will permit him to be their party’s nominee.

So if they can’t wind on their policy decisions, what chance do they have? Well, there’s always cheating.

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