Face it: Voter ID was always about electing GOP candidates

In a perfect world, everyone would vote. In a perfect world, every voter would be perfectly informed and perfectly inoculated against hysterical scaremongering, cherry-picked data, and mawkish appeals to emotion.

In a perfect world, we’d understand that mosquitoes are far more deadly than sharks, that texting while driving is a graver threat to life and limb than Ebola, and that Honey Boo Boo really shouldn’t be getting more viewers than Bill Moyers.

We’d be a nation of aspiring philosopher kings instead of sheep. Unfortunately, at times, we’re worse than sheep. Sheep can be led in a single direction by the gentle supplications of humble shepherds. What kind of mad, brainless thug of an animal responds to the voice of Ann Coulter?

Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world, which is made abundantly clear any time anyone tries to open a jar of Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa (vacuum-sealed on Monday mornings by hung-over demon blacksmiths in the Ninth Circle of Hell).

So the scenery-chewing and over-emoting that’s sure to come from the rightmost regions of the state’s political landscape in response to the Supreme Court’s (perhaps temporary, but definitely good till Nov. 4) slap-down of Wisconsin’s voter ID law should be seen for what it is — the self-conscious histrionics of folks who know they done wrong.

Let’s be clear. This was always about making sure the right (as in right-wing) people vote. It was brilliant, to be sure. Who is most likely to have a driver’s license, and thus a convenient, ready-to-use voting pass? Suburbanites and rural upstaters. Who is least likely? Urban dwellers, who tend to rely more heavily on public transportation. Cover yourself with a thick ganache of reasonable-sounding rhetoric about the integrity of the voting process — i.e., concoct a solution in search of a nearly non-existent problem — and, voilà, you’ve got an electorate that’s far more likely to put Republicans in office.

It’s a simple plan, but ingenious. And transparent to anyone who’s really paying attention.

How transparent? Consider that the same court that took a blowtorch to the Voting Rights Act one short year ago saw fit to tap the brakes on Wisconsin’s voter-suppression ploy before Election Day.

Be honest: Voter ID has always been about getting Republicans elected. And nothing else.

In fact, in an unguarded moment during the 2012 election cycle, Pennsylvania House Republican leader Mike Turzai inexplicably spilled the beans on the whole sordid scheme when he crowed about his party’s legislative achievements:

Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.




Of course, in a perfect world, everyone would be sufficiently motivated to obtain proper ID to protect their right to vote, political machinations be damned. And in that same perfect world, the governor of a state with a newly green-lit (by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prior to the Supreme Court reversal) voter ID law would make sure DMV offices are open long enough to ensure everyone who wants an ID can easily get one, thus signaling that the voter ID law he enthusiastically supported really was about preventing fraud and not simply getting a fraud elected.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in this world. And here in the real world, we should be working to ensure that our scandalously low voter participation rate goes up, not down.

Sure, when people are speaking frankly at backyard barbecues in Waunakee or taverns in Sheboygan, you’ll likely hear them fret about how poorly informed some voters are — so poorly informed that they don’t even know about the voter ID law. Do we really want them voting? But let’s be honest: None of us is fully informed about the issues.

Which is worse, not knowing about voter ID or believing that Scott Walker balanced the budget without accounting tricks and took care of our structural deficit problem?

While an informed electorate is one of the best defenses against bad government, a fully engaged electorate is just as important. When large blocs of potential voters don’t vote, it’s all too easy for politicians to ignore their interests. And every citizen’s interests need to be respected. Bottom line: We shouldn’t be throwing up roadblocks to voting and creating new hoops for voters to jump through. But that’s exactly what Wisconsin’s voter ID law was designed to do.

The Supreme Court has given us a reprieve from our state’s shameful voter-suppression scheme. Hopefully, the court will eventually strike it down for good. The integrity of the voting process depends on it.

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