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Cynthia Tucker: Suppression and hypocrisy compromise GOP strategy

Cynthia Tucker: Suppression and hypocrisy compromise GOP strategy

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Cynthia Tucker

Cynthia Tucker

Like many of the other distortions, deceptions and outright lies in which the Republican Party has engaged, its flagrant fabrications about “voter fraud” have been exposed for what they are: a desperate attempt to hold on to power. For decades now, Republicans have undertaken a far-reaching effort to suppress the vote among constituencies that tend to vote for Democrats: voters of color, the poor, the young.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends widespread voting by mail to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Republicans — including the president — are engaged in an all-out campaign to prevent voting by mail. The GOP knows that any initiative that makes it easier to cast a ballot will result in more ballots cast. Any genuine patriot — any American who sincerely believes in the ideals of the U.S. Constitution — should want that, right?

Nope. While some Republicans still manage to express their efforts to suppress the vote with less explicit rhetoric — using claims of “protecting the integrity of the ballot” as an excuse — President Donald Trump cannot manage the same discipline. In a recent call to one of his favorite propaganda outlets, “Fox and Friends,” Trump complained about Democratic efforts to expand alternatives to showing up physically at a polling place on a single, specific day. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he said about initiatives that were removed from a stimulus bill because of GOP objections.

In other words, high turnout is bad news for Republicans, or so they believe. The Grand Old Poobahs have given up campaigning for the votes of black and brown Americans. They’ve forsaken the interests of younger voters and impoverished voters. Instead, they’ve doubled down on disenfranchising them. Just look at Wisconsin’s primary earlier this week.

In the midst of a global pandemic that has shuttered businesses and restricted residents to their homes, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, proposed sending absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state. The Republican-dominated Legislature reacted with rage. In a last-ditch effort to protect public health, Evers unilaterally postponed Tuesday’s primary. Republicans sued. They won.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservatives, said Evers did not have the authority to postpone the primary. In a related technical issue, the highest court in the nation sided with the right-wing power grab. In a one-sided ruling, the high court’s conservatives decided that all absentee ballots submitted in Wisconsin must be “postmarked by Election Day,” which meant any voters who applied for absentee ballots in the last few weeks — after the dangers of the plague were clear — would not get the opportunity to be counted.

As if the U.S. Supreme Court’s partisanship were not obvious, it added hypocrisy to its sins. For the first time since the Spanish flu epidemic that struck during World War I, the nation’s highest court suspended oral arguments, citing “public health precautions.” Roberts doesn’t want to be exposed to the virus, but it’s OK if Wisconsin voters are exposed.

For those who have cared to pay attention, the phoniness of the GOP’s “voter fraud” claims has been obvious for years. In 2012, a Republican Pennsylvania state legislator hailed a new law requiring strict voter ID checks at the polls, saying it would help Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama.

Georgia’s GOP governor, Brian Kemp, ran for the office when he was still the state’s election chief. He used that position to find countless ways to suppress black votes. Those efforts no doubt contributed to the defeat of Democrat Stacey Abrams, who might have become the nation’s first black female governor.

Trump, the narcissist-in-chief, was so troubled over losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton that he insisted the results were mired in fraudulent voting. He installed a special commission to ferret out the fraud, but the group eventually disbanded because no evidence of widespread cheating was to be found.

Still, they persist. The president has tweeted that voting by mail is fine for the elderly and members of the military, but “RIPE for FRAUD” if expanded to other groups. Guess which party is usually supported by elderly voters and members of the military?

Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007: cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

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