In 2010 the Republican Party swept the legislatures in an overwhelming number of states (images below). Once in power, these legislatures began rapid-fire passage of bills following a far-right, ultra-conservative agenda. Extreme budget cuts, union-breaking, anti-choice abortion bills, attempts to repeal and/or block protection and marriage equality laws for LGBT people, the Republicans had a field day.
One of the most infamous legislative trends to come out of this has come to be known as the Voter ID laws. These are proposed (and in some cases passed) laws that are carefully crafted to disenfranchise the traditional Democratic Party base (minorities, poor people, new immigrants, young adults) by requiring forms of ID that were going to be difficult to acquire before this year’s election. A great history of this process can be found in this Alternet article.
Tuesday, through the haze of my daily nap, I heard a Rachel Maddow (clip here) piece on the financial problems of many state Republican parties and how independent conservatives groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads and the RNCC are going to have to bail many of them out.
It’s then that it clicked. We progressives had been giving the right-wing too much credit. It’s not ideological with Republicans. As always seems to be the case, it’s financial. Donations are down. State party organization, as pathetically evidenced in Nevada is becoming non-existent. The ability to push their party platform in the traditional marketplace of ideals is shrinking. So what do they do?
They do two things. The first is accept money from better organized and better funded independent groups that force them to move their agenda farther and farther to the right and farther away from the vast majority of the American people. The second is to create laws that give them an unfair advantage in the election process. When Voter ID bills are grouped with other tactics like dubious electronic voting, purging of voter rolls, district gerrymandering, and felony disenfranchisement laws, well the Republicans may not have to actually campaign for generations.
Am I too off base here?