This column by ACRU Policy Board Member J. Christian Adams was published June 18, 2015 by FrontPage Mag.
Hillary Clinton has given Republicans a taste of what is to come. In recent days, she has delivered two speeches laying out an architecture that Democrats will use to retain the White House in 2016. Republicans better pay close attention.
Hillary jettisoned Bill’s triangulation from the 1990’s and aligned with the radical racialist muscle that now dominates the Democrat party of 2015. In Houston, she tried to scare racial minorities by conjuring the ghost of Jim Crow. On Welfare Island in New York City, she launched a cultural crusade to pit racial and sexual interest groups against mainstream America.
Hillary is banking on Republicans responding to these attacks the same way they have in the past: shock, then shame, followed by capitulation.
Clinton isn’t alone among the candidates in this approach. She is merely borrowing the rhetoric and tactics which will be employed by whoever the Democrats nominate. Indeed, the Democrats will nominate whichever candidate employs these tactics the best. Martin O’Malley and Elizabeth Warren will certainly match Hillary’s leftward lurch, without the burden of Hillary’s baggage.
Let’s hope Republicans understand Hillary’s architecture and learn how to neutralize it.
In Houston, Hillary made election process rules a focus of her campaign. By process, I mean who votes, when they vote, and how they vote. While Republicans tend to focus on issues, Democrats realize that if they dominate the process of the election, the power to control the issues will follow. Process brings power.
Hillary’s Houston speech proposed a radical agenda of a month of early voting, mandatory automatic voter registration, and an election free of verifying the identity of the voters. Her pals in the leftist media were giddy. The new radical Left wants elections to resemble the mobs affairs of the 1800’s before election integrity reforms, such as voluntary voter registration, were enacted for the 20th Century.
But Hillary wasn’t content just to advocate for a revolution in election process rules. She did more. She followed the Left’s orthodoxy and dressed her election process proposals up in the costume of civil rights. To Hillary and the new Left, having a month-long election day is all about race. Giving bureaucrats in Washington D.C. the power to reject state election laws is all about race. Being allowed to vote in a precinct where you don’t live is about race. Denying prisoners a ballot is about race. So is verifying American citizenship, showing photo identification, or even bothering to register to vote. Race, race and race.
See, once the Democrats turn election process rules into racial issues, they know they can get Republicans to shut up and capitulate, no matter how phony the civil rights branding. Yet all of her proposals are about helping Democrats win elections by altering the rules of the election game. Once they are accused of racism, Hillary knows Republicans often flee the field.
The Left understands the interaction of culture with process. The Left knows that new election process rules act as a new set of sails to capture cultural prevailing winds favorable to Democrats. Conducting Election Day for a month or two doesn’t facially help Democrats, unless you understand the intersection of culture and election process rules — and the importance of monitoring the mechanics of elections.
The process rules suggested by Democrats are designed to favor Democrats, or else Democrats wouldn’t be suggesting them.
Month-long elections give Democrats the ability to get the unmotivated to the polls. More importantly, it allows the Democrats to conduct a prolonged election free from the watchful eyes of election observers in cities where nearly everyone is a Democrat. Six weeks of early voting is unmanageable in places like Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities notorious for election crimes.
Giving Washington D.C. renewed power under the Voting Rights Act allows Justice Department bureaucrats with a long history of abuse to leverage power for Democrats behind closed doors. Allowing voters to cast ballots in precincts where they don’t live encourages electoral chaos and subsidizes those who cannot make their way to the correct location. Because felons empirically vote for Democrats at a 9:1 rate, ending state qualification laws on felon voting will help Democrats win. Not verifying the citizenship of registrants allows criminal aliens to vote for Democrats.
Hillary said in Houston that to oppose these policies is racially discriminatory. Nonsense.
But what of it? What happens when racial ringmasters like the Rev. Al Sharpton have whipped up so much racial animus that voting polarization levels among black voters surpass 90, or even 95 percent? What happens when Sharpton succeeds in making “black” synonymous with “Democrat?” Whipping up racial resentment is a deliberate strategy of Democrats like Hillary and Sharpton. By tricking and frightening black voters into thinking Jim Crow is lurking, Democrats can rely on a solid racial block of voters. Then Democrats can demand election process rules that help Democrats, as long as a phony racial element is churned into the mix.
As we shall see in a moment, Republicans cannot fall for this trap. It is a trap built on a lie. Governor Chris Christie had the exactly correct response to Hillary’s speech. “My sense is that she just wants an opportunity to commit greater acts of voter fraud around the country,” Christie said.
Bulls-eye. The only effective response to Hillary’s proposals is to lay bare her motivation for proposing such sweeping changes to American elections. Her proposals are an invitation for the election criminals to alter the outcome of elections. Hillary and the Democrats never support election integrity. Never. They reflexively oppose every measure to increase the security of our elections. After a while, it starts to become obvious why.
Hillary’s civil rights ruse is also unconvincing. With stratospheric levels of racial polarization among black voters, Democrat interests are conveniently presented as civil rights concerns. In a recent law review article on the Voting Rights Act, I asked:
“This raises serious questions about the future of Voting Rights Act enforcement. What should happen if racial cohesion rates reach such levels such that voters of one race cast nearly all of their ballots for one party? Should federal law remain unchanged if partisan interests merge with racial voting patterns? Or, as some have suggested, should Democrats throw caution out and use the Voting Rights Act in a nakedly partisan way to bolster the electoral goals of the Democrat party?”
Hillary and the Democrats want Republicans to take the civil rights bait. They know that Republicans tend to disarm when faced with accusations of racism. We’ve seen this dynamic in previous election process fights.
Some Republicans, including President George W. Bush, supported reauthorizing federal oversight of elections in sixteen states back in 2006. Indeed, in addition to prolonging federal oversight, the 2006 amendments to the Voting Rights Act made it even harder to obtain federal approval of election law changes. Republicans believed their support in 2006 might help them “reach across the aisle” or “make inroads” in minority communities. It made no difference. Some of us are old enough to remember that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were invited to the signing ceremony at the White House. No sooner had the ink dried on the President’s signature before these same race agitators commenced their attacks against Bush and the GOP.
Lesson learned. It doesn’t pay to play.
Obtaining GOP capitulation is once again Hillary’s plan. So why not develop a new formula to assert federal oversight of state elections? For starters, Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act already has one. When a court finds discrimination, a court can impose federal preclearance obligations over state election laws. Suggesting a new formula also betrays the unfamiliarity about the virtually criminal abuse leftist Justice Department bureaucrats have heaped on state and local governments over the decades. Is the benefit of ending early voting merely a cost savings? That’s one benefit, but there are many others — such as reducing fraud and promoting a single day of American unity when we all stand together and vote.
The answer to left wing demagoguery isn’t appeasement. The answer to Hillary’s leftward lurch isn’t to bloat early voting, abolish voluntary voter registration and eliminate safeguards to the integrity of American elections. The answer is to call it what it is — the next grand design of a radical fringe, a fringe comfortable with racial demagoguery and election crimes as a tool to preserve power.