Republican Last Hurrah

If Nate Silver is right, it could be a surprisingly good night for President Obama. My favorite political oddsmaker has Obama’s chances of victory at 91%, with potentially 314 electoral votes. If this turns out to be the result, the Republican Party is going to have to do some major soul searching, because if they could not defeat a Democratic incumbent with unemployment at 7.9%, then must reconcile themselves to permanent minority status. In California Republicans represent just 28% of the population and as the diversity of our state becomes the national norm, the party of Old White Men will decline into irrelevance.

This decline explains some of the more egregious tactics of Republicans in the last six months. A party spends its efforts at disenfranchising the opposition party only when it cannot win elections on the strength of its platform. When you are no longer willing to speak for the young, the gays, the people of color, your only way to victory is the Jim Crow way. I’m old enough to have been involved in the Civil Rights movement in 1962 and 1963. The forces in the White Citizens Councils who would make sure that Blacks could not vote surely must have known that their days in power were numbered, but they didn’t care. They were going to fight for their “way of life” until the very end. Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, is no different than George Wallace in 1963 yelling “Segregation Forever”. The Tampa Bay Times editorial says it all.

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican-led Legislature and the Republican Party of Florida have done everything they can to discourage you from voting and participating in democracy. Don’t let them get away with it.

The other aspect of the Dying Republican Party is the constant dog whistle of thinly cloaked racism that pervaded the Romney campaign. It’s all of a piece: from the early lies of Obama eliminating welfare requirements to the 47% remarks about people who would never take responsiblity for them selves, to John Sununu’s wish that Obama would learn how to be an American, to Donald Trumps incessant birtherism, right up to Paul Ryan’s closing statement that an Obama victory threatens “Judeo-Christian” values.

It’s a dangerous path, it’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.

A Romney loss will cause the hard right to double down and say he wasn’t conservative enough. But the truth is that Paul Ryan’s pinched view of the American future is a minority view. And that minority will be even smaller in four years as many of the fiercest partisans die of old age.

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15 Responses to Republican Last Hurrah

  1. Rick Turner says:

    I think we can expect a number of voter suppression and voter interference lawsuits to crop up, particularly in Florida, New York, and New Jersey as pissed off voters react to the attempts by the right wing to negate reality or not adequately take the disaster of Sandy into account. The Supreme Court may yet be deciding another election, and that could get very interesting…I think there’s a good chance that we won’t know who will be president for a while yet, and if Obama wins those three states despite the situations there, it will be doubly interesting to see what kinds of tactics the Repubs use to try to reverse the vote. I can already hear protests of voter fraud…echos of paranoia. When was the last time there was a legitimate case of voter fraud in America? Old Chicago or New York precinct politics times?

  2. Roman says:

    Why, in the midst of the ‘social media’ revolution, are paper ballots still being used?? While waiting in line for my ‘paper ballot’ this morning, Ross Perot’s infamous e-voting and electronic town hall ideas from the 1992 election came to mind.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I enjoy meeting friends, neighbors, and the latest “who’s that?” at the polls, but I’d rather meet at the lunch counter (which I will anyway) and vote from, well, wherever. And why not? The paper ballot has to be one of the last vestiges of yesterday still not converted into the digital age.

    Although we face many pressing issues, replacing the paper ballot with an electronic version is a non-partisan low hanging fruit that both parties can win with. This should be be the last presidential election using paper ballots as the primary means of casting votes.

  3. len says:

    I stood in a very long line at 7AM. The last time we did this, it was sunshine and positive. This time it is rainy and grimly determined. But they sure are showing up. And amazingly polite.

    I’m looking forward to a decided contest. I hope we get one quickly.

  4. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Jon, about your line: “A Romney loss will cause the hard right to double down and say he wasn’t conservative enough”. I couln’t agree more. It’s a great, dismal danger.

    And I don’t even know what the term “Judeo-Christian” means, except as slang and slur. That expression manages to be redundant and self-contradictory at the same time. Damn Ryan for perpetuating it, just to hit hot buttons. He needs to spend more time with rabbis, and Christian Hebraist theologians. Even a lone Jesuit would do.

  5. Rick Turner says:

    Hugo, the weird thing about the “Judeo-Christian” value-spouting folks is that the loudest of them don’t like Jews very much…

    I wonder if Ryan or Romney have ever been to a Seder…

  6. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Me too, Rick.

  7. Rick Turner says:

    I’d like to see a breakdown of the percentage of eligible voters by ethnicity and religion. Diversity is one thing. Participation in democracy is entirely another thing…

    And with regard to electoral fraud; I would like to see if there are any confirmed cases in the past two or three national elections. If someone is registered to vote, is there really a need for photo ID? I didn’t show any today. I suppose someone could show up and say they were me, and if they got to the polling station before me, then I guess they could claim to be me, though it would be found out as soon as I showed up. I’ve not heard of a single case of that happening. And I guess a registered voter could die and someone show up to vote in their place. I doubt there would be enough cases of that to tilt an election.

    But voting fraud…not voter fraud…does seem entirely possible in light of that voting machine that was switching Obama to Romney in Pennsylvania today. Did you ever have a computer that always worked perfectly and never crashed? And do you think it’s hard to rig results with a computer in between the voters and the tally? With a tight race, it wouldn’t take much to flip a vote, and exit polls would not necessarily catch that. I’ll stick with re-countable paper ballots, thank you, and real people there with real supervisors to do recounts if need be.

  8. Fentex says:

    Why, in the midst of the ‘social media’ revolution, are paper ballots still being used??

    Because not having them is foolish.

    Untrackable digital election processes are a very bad idea that destroys the integrity of election processes.

    Vote tallies must not come out of black boxes.

  9. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Not so sure about paper ballots versus the latest eGovernance tech. I do think that, on the electronic side, individual voters should be provided their cancelled polling-machine credit card thingies after they complete their casting of votes, so that the voter’s remaining mag-strip on the card’s reverse can verify the citizen’s unalterable decisions at the polling. I haven’t any idea, however, as to how this kind of hi-tech, redundant security measure could extend to e.g. overseas military votes, other Votes by Mail, etc. My problem with paper ballots is not the promiscuous Virgins betrothed to Chad, so much as with the seriocomic memory of the time when a team of my fellow campaign workers, on behalf of our Democratic candidate, stole and destroyed paper ballots before the things could be recorded by the Registrar, much less by the Secretary of State. Obviously an old story, but still these cardboard repertories seem to return each season. So I can’t really calculate the trade-offs, paper vs. tech.

  10. Rick Turner says:

    Fentex and Len are our local computer gurus here, and both know just how easily gamed the whole digital world is. The very fact that a machine in Pennsylvania “malfunctioned” should be enough to make any thinking person question the whole concept of electronic voting. And so you get a receipt with whom you voted for…so what? How are you going to know if what that piece of paper says and what got registered as vote totals are the same. Come on now…don’t trust the anonymity of the machines, Hugo. If I can think it with regard to computer hacks, it can be done. And in an election like this one, it takes less than a polling margin of error to completely change results. It’s like shaving points to win big in a sports bet.

    I’m not even wild about the tallying machines reading the paper ballots. I’d be more comfortable with volunteers doing that with supervisors checking them.

    Of course paper ballots can be messed with, but these days there are a lot of bipartisan eyes working at the polling stations. There are checks and balances that can be totally absent in a world of virtual voting.

  11. len says:

    I hosted an XML conference seminar on this topic. It’s waay too easy today. OTOH, it’s also easy to check. Machines properly engineered don’t fire and forget. What you might consider is a system where the voter votes at the polling place and the machine sends an email of that vote to their address which they can then verify with an electronic signature. It can still be gamed but so can the paper ballots if they are counted without verification which is why the doubled counters where votes are contested. Another way is to use ID devices that properly identify the person and registers them with the machine. People won’t like it. You could vote from your cell phone if you trust the phone company. 😉

    My question is how much do you want to stop voter fraud (voter commits the fraud) and how much do you want to stop counting fraud (post vote change of votes)? It is tough to create a fraud free system. You can theoretically make electronic voting safer but you have to account for the logs very tightly and do the same sorts of things you have to do to create non-repudiatible transactions. Note: you trust them with your credit card numbers every day. You trust security systems on buildings. These are all just transaction systems. So is voting.

    If what I read earlier was so, the screen on a machine had a malfunctioning touch area definition. The Obama button region stretched over the Romney region (XY coords). That is a slick way to rig it if they did that. Not many people would notice.

  12. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Not a piece of paper as a “receipt”, Rick, and not a receipt either. The etched and sealed original of which the digital transmission — the potentially manipulable weak link — is the un-notarized carbon copy. Even were malefactors to succeed in manipulating digital data residing in e.g. a state mainframe, still the indidual voter would hold the original: her signature, secure card that enabled the polling machine in the first place. Many digitized polling places now work on machines operated by these cards issued to the voter entering the polling place and reporting to the spot designated for verifying the voter’s qualifications. My concern, or else quandary, is: why should the voter, having voted and thereby having recorded his vote instantly with the authorities, then be required to retrieve the card AND RETURN IT TO THE CARE OF STRANGERS?

    And Rick, Jesus, the paper ballots do not go astray at the foci of watchful eyes, and my vignette IS of “nowadays”, not from yesteryear! Paper don’t cut it, and it just seems worse than fishy that the voter leaves the polling place without so much as the offer of portable proof of [the proper receipt of] the votes he’d just registered. A simple transaction record, encoded for privacy, if necessary, as much as a bank receipt from e.g. a deposit to savings or checking.

    Big deal.

  13. Rick Turner says:

    Ever hear of NCR paper? Or carbon paper!

    The real issue becomes the counters, not the voters. “Vote early, Vote often” was the old joke about Chicago ward politics; I just don’t think that’s much of an issue now. But in a tightly contested election, it would be easy enough to switch one vote in 99 and make a complete difference with digital ones and zeros, and how would one know? Unless we all “got over it” with privacy concerns…

  14. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Yeah, I know. And IBM counted the Holocaust for Himmler, and only recently paid reparations for having done it. They did it with paper punch cards. I guess the chads went up the chimneys. My point is that I don’t trust either technology. The bound book itself is a combination of a dozen technologies that coalesced in the early Twelfth Century, Y1K.2. There’s got to be a way around this.

    Maybe we could ask schoolchildren to join a nickel campaign, and donate the proceeds to the military academies to come up with a single, Model T balloting device that’s militarily redundant, spitting out both paper sureties and mag-strip back-ups.

    Why, I don’t recall, but the CA Assembly, in their wisdom now so plain to see, made me Chief Consultant of the Subcommitte on Technology, the two purposes of which were to appear to “solve” the invented “problem” of the Y2K Horror that Ate Fresno, and to usher in eGovernance for the State’s municipal subdivisions. I resigned when, without telling me, they issued a glowing legislative “report” touting the wonders of red tape cutting, digital filings and recordings via e.g. the county registrars. They’d used Committee letterhead, with my name atop the right margin, for the official cover letter bound as the first page of the glowing, pseudo-tech report, a digest of promotional crap fed to them by companies like “Die Bold II: The Prequel”.

    Holy Great Pumpkin, Batman! Just imagine the bloated salaries and scandalous cost overruns and brother-in-law contracts that issued from the Legislature’s latest plaything: a whole new State Department created excusively to play that Long Con. We disbanded it shortly after the Y2K thing played out. No lawmaker paid the political cost of that elaborate fleecing of taxpaying sheep.

    Well, none but one. My committee Chair. Prior to resigning I’d found a hacker willing to conspire on a double-double Top Secret demonstration. We digitally stole, for one hour, the deed to the house of an acquaintance who was a widowed pensioner. My Chairman was retired from politics.

    Which brings us back to the nickel campaign…

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