To the Editor:
The For The People Act passed the House of Representatives recently, to fierce conservative opposition. Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee called it “as if written in hell by the devil himself” — strong words, yet unsurprising. This is the same man who, last year, said the quiet part out loud: “Democracy isn’t the objective.”
The act would impose responsibilities on all states to offer ample access to early and absentee voting; automatically register newly eligible voters; stop arbitrary voter roll purges; restore voting rights to former convicts; regulate and make better transparent campaign donations; etc.
It is not surprising that Republicans oppose any effort to improve people’s access to the vote. Historically, conservatives have been loud and proud of the fact that the only way they can win at politics is by limiting the vote as much as possible. In 1895, the South Carolina senator, Benjamin Tilman, reminisced the rise of Jim Crow: “How did we recover [white citizens’] liberty? By fraud and violence. We tried to overcome the thirty thousand [black citizens'] majority by honest methods, which was a mathematical impossibility.”
Now, the modern conservative must act through more subtle means to succeed: poll taxes in the form of voter ID requirements; limiting early and absentee voting, including bans on Sunday voting to stop black churches’ “souls to the polls;” and disenfranchising convicts. They say that expanding representation to the U.S. territories like Puerto Rico would hurt conservatives, and that abolishing the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote would help democrats.
Perhaps I’m just a “radical” thinker; but, if you can only win via making elections inconvenient, then maybe you shouldn’t be elected? Maybe if the majority doesn’t actually want you, then you don’t get in? Maybe if conservatives tried governing, rather than starting culture wars over Dr. Suess and selling out their states to the lowest bidders (looking at you, Texas), then they might be worth voting for.
William P.G. Tucker