|Republicans Jospeh McCarthy and Susana Martinez|
Republicans and Democracy
One of the most chilling images leftover from one of the most disgusting episodes in US history, McCarthyism, the witch hunt for Communists led by Republican Senator Joeseph McCarthy in the 1950s, where McCarthy hauled scores of US citizens before his Un American Activities Committee and tried to force them to name any Communists or "Communist sympathizers" they knew, is of McCarthy's claim to have a list of known Communists and Communist sympathizers in his vest pocket. Which list never materialized.
In the current witch hunt for non existent voter fraud in New Mexico, Republican Governor Susanna Martinez' secretary of state also claims to have evidence of voter fraud. Which evidence has never materialized.
Just a few years ago the US Attorney in New Mexico, David Iglesias, was fired by the Republican Bush Administration for refusing to prosecute allegations of corruption against Democrats just before an election in which Republican Heather Wilson, a close ally of Matinez, was in a close congressional race the Bush Administration wanted badly to win.
Iglesias had not prosecuted the cases because he considered them to be baseless. Iglesias was one of seven federal prosecutors who were fired by the Bush White House under similar circumstances, on order from the master of voter suppression, long time Bush adviser Karl Rove.
The suppression of democracy in American has always been one of the primary goals of the Conservative political movement, the banner of which is now carried by the Republican Party. Because Conservatism represents the minority interests of the ruling class and the bourgeoisie, that is, the rich and business owners, it is always a minority movement, and so anything Republicans can to do suppress voting helps them.
Voter suppression is one of two basic strategies Republicans use to win elections. One is to peel away some working class votes by the tactics of fear and division by raising issues having nothing to do with voters' economic interests. Raising the specter of brown hordes streaming across our southern border, and claims that Muslims are infiltrating America and are setting up cells of terrorists and want to institute Sharia law in the US, are recent examples of this tactic.
The other Republican electoral strategy is to suppress democracy itself, that is, to prevent working class people from voting. This is where New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez' witch hunt for non existent voter fraud comes in.
Republicans in many states have followed a similar strategy. First, accusations of voter fraud are made. They are never proven. There is never prosecution. If there is any evidence put forth, it is for one or two cases of fraud out of millions of good votes cast. In other words, fraud has never proven to be a problem, because it isn't a problem.
But the charges make headlines, and allow Republican to force through legislation that makes it more difficult for significant numbers of working class voters to vote. Most common is legislation requiring voters to have picture identification with them when they vote.
More members of the working class don't own cars than do rich people and business owners. Poor people, especially the urban poor, usually don't need or can't afford cars, and therefore don't bother paying the fee, or tax, required to get a driver's license, which is the usual form of a picture i.d.
One such law passed in Ohio prevented a group of retired nuns from voting, among others.
The poor can, of course, pay to obtain another form of picture i.d., if they can afford it and if they have time to get one and if know where to get one and if they want to bother with getting one, and if they know beforehand that they will need it when they show up at their polling place to vote.
The Republican strategy becomes obvious. Make it more difficult to vote. Put up hurdles. Place obstacles in the way that traditional Republicans voters don't have to jump over or can easily surmount. Prevent people who are likely to vote Democratic from voting. In close elections, it makes a difference.
Another element of the Republican strategy to suppress democracy is to simply use their wealth to out-advertise their opponents. The recent "Citizens United" decision by a Supreme Court now packed with right-wing Republican ideologues who are coming under increasing criticism for corruption, especially Clarence Thomas, who seems to see his position on the court as one big money making opportunity, was a big victory for Republicans. It allows unlimited spending by corporations to influence elections. In one area Democrats could have competed on an equal, and democratic, basis, the Republicans just gave themselves a huge advantage. Recall that this same Supreme Court majority stepped in after the 2000 presidential election to stop the counting of votes and install George W Bush as president.
Following are some summaries of the history of Republican efforts to suppress voting.