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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

 
Countering the GOP's double-down on white

by David Atkins

Joan Walsh has an excellent summary in Salon about the GOP's strategy to restrict minority votes and maximize their share of the white vote:

Three stories in the last three days brought into focus exactly how Republicans plan to tough out the demographic extinction that is eventually coming for them, if they remain a 90 percent white party in a country that will be less than half white within 25 years. One, they’re doing as Wisconsin did, and ramming through voting restrictions in states controlled by Republicans. As the New York Times reported Sunday, Wisconsin is only one of nine states have made it harder to vote since Obama’s re-election (18 states had already made it tougher after he won the first time, according to the Brennan Center).

Two, they’re working hard to demoralize the Democratic base by blocking policies Democrats promised to enact, like immigration reform. Another Times piece showed how Latino activists are finding it hard to register and motivate Latino voters, because the failure to make good on immigration legislation has them convinced anew that voting doesn’t matter. Of 50 people approached by a young Latina organizer, “not a single person” was interested. “They were like, ‘Why? Why would I bother to vote?’” the organizer told the Times.

Finally, an AP story detailed how a combination of geography and gerrymandering let Republican state legislatures draw congressional district lines that will let the GOP control the House, even as Democrats get millions more votes in House races overall...

The truth is, most Republicans don’t think they have to “attract more people,” if they limit those who can vote to the people they already attract: older, wealthier white people. They don’t need “ideas” either; they can go without their own immigration reform bill, or a plan to “replace” Obamacare, as long as they’re playing the trifecta of voter suppression, voter demoralization and gerrymandering. If Republicans hit that trifecta, they don’t have to worry about being overwhelmingly outnumbered by Democrats. They can steamroll the midterms, when the electorate is reliably older and whiter, and lock up state houses by spending big money in a low-turnout year.

They even have a shot at the White House, though that route is harder, because Democrats are developing an electoral-vote lock, thanks to the combination of big states turning deeper blue and higher presidential-election-year turnout by young and nonwhite voters. But winning the White House is worth less and less if a president is thwarted by Republican nihilists, and the cynicism that results could ultimately overwhelm the Democrats’ demographic advantages.
Joan lists some things Democrats can do to attempt to mitigate this dynamic, among them focusing more on midterm elections than presidentials, and ending the large scale of deportations.

But there's one other thing that Democrats can do that she doesn't mention: get aggressive about progressive policy at a state level. If Democrats in blue states prove what is possible when Republicans aren't in the way, that would serve as a way to counter cynicism and bring a broader electorate to the polls. It would also emphasize the importance of voting in every race all the way down the ballot.

Maybe we can't bring single-payer healthcare to the entire country, or nationalize parts of the banking system. But that doesn't mean that blue states can't bring single-payer care to their own states, and create statewide banks. Some things are possible in spite of Republican nihilism.

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