I had started writing this prior to Thom’s article “Are We Past the Point of No Return.” His essay puts the focus on the damage being done by the GOP but fails to address what I believe is the real issue that needs to be resolved. That problem is Interstate Crosscheck and voter suppression. Putting Democrats in control can reverse whatever the GOP does, but putting new people in office is the first problem that needs to be resolved. Without the power of the ballot, we the people can do nothing to change the course of this country.
Every week, Representative Pocan visits Thom and every week there is at least one, if not three or four, concerns brought up about the matter. The answers put forth are always policies and a bill.
Let’s address the bill first. No matter how noble the bill, does anyone really believe that it would pass under a GOP majority Congress, much less signed by a GOP president? Sure, the Democrats can use the GOP voting against the concept of an American freedom, but it would require language that the Democratic Party does not have the ability to say it in a concise manner. I can hear it now. GOP: “The Democrat party want illegals to vote.” The Democrats: “We want the voices of every U.S. citizen to be heard and this bill allows….” SNORE! Half of America just fell asleep.
If the argument can’t be bumper sticker short, then the argument is lost. The only people who will grasp the details are the people who are already politically aware of the facts of voter suppression. Which brings us to the second issue of voting: dealing with the GOP’s ability to deny access to ballots.
Many have said that the Democrats need to address the issue head on. The counter argument from within the party is that people will lose faith in the process and will end up only losing more voters. So the answer is, as given by both Thom and Congressman Pocan is policy. By addressing policy, they believe it will bring out voters in such numbers that suppression won’t be enough. Can the idea of having candidates with more popular policies bring out the voters and possibly create party crossover, thus overcoming the suppressed votes? To a small degree I believe that to be true, but when we are talking about the 2018 midterms, will that be enough to sway enough outcomes in gerrymandered districts? Because midterms are more geographically targeted, we just might end up with “more Democratic votes, but still more GOP elected.”
If this is the outcome, then I am afraid it will be over for the Democratic Party. Frustration will eventually seep in and the idea of better outcomes will subside, buried deep in voter frustration. The adage that “my vote doesn’t matter” will become more true to the average voter.
Thom is generous in giving three years for the ugly path to take a turn into oblivion, but I believe if by 2018 the Democrats are not control of at least one half of Congress, then I believe that will be the point of no return and I believe the only alternatives left to the frustrated will be submission or violence. The Democratic Party has less than thirteen months to turn things around.
It is of my opinion that if the DNC does not directly address the issue of how votes are being negated, it will eventually sink the party. Better policies should be less a strategy and more a given, and making people aware that there are “behind the scenes” efforts to deny them a voice is more productive than otherwise. Ads need to be run telling voters to be proactive on their voting status and if they are left to using a provisional ballot, they must follow through to make sure their vote is counted. The Democrats should even provide any necessary aid to any person denied their ability to cast a vote. If it means having to physically drive people to the appropriate office to prove their vote is valid, then money should be set aside to do so. If it means having volunteers to oversee polling places to assure voters don’t get sent away, then it should be done.
It would seem there are a host of options available. If voting rolls are public, then start collecting the names now and start a direct mail campaign to create awareness. Americans don’t like sneaky tactics being used against them and will push back when given the tools to do so.
I don’t believe the majority of voters will become cynics of the process if they are informed of the effort against them. If anything, it would embolden many to tackle it head on, especially if they have been a victim. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the 2018 elections to see if the Democratic plan of “policies” works. Personally, policies and informing the public would be the best plan, but the Democratic Party seems to be willing to admit to not being able to walk and chew gum.