How Obama’s election prompted a desperate power grab
A few days ago, I happened to watch the new documentary called Rigged – The Voter Suppression Playbook, which you can now catch on Amazon Prime. It deals with how the Republican Party began a systematic voter suppression and gerrymandering extravaganza not long after an incident that occurred in 2008.
Af first I wasn’t sure what event they were talking about. Let’s see, what event transpired in 2008 that would have inspired such actions?
Oh yeah! The black guy won.
Now it makes sense. It must have been as if one of the Tsunami Warning sirens, which are sometimes tested out here in the Pacific Northwest, blasted so loud to every member of the Republican hierarchy, that it became an ‘all hands on deck’ response. Or, maybe it was like the loud signal we sometimes hear on the local newscast when a tornado or hurricane is imminent. Whatever the case, Barack Obama’s victory as the first African-American to ever hold the office of President, sent shock waves throughout the right-wing world.
In fact, on the day of his inauguration, several current and former members of the Republican leadership met at a Washington D.C. area restaurant to plot how they were going to stop the first black President from galvanizing the emerging demographic voting bloc dead in its tracks. Immediately, they determined that they would do everything in their power to prevent him from achieving even a modicum of success legislatively. And over the next eight years, they did a pretty good job of doing just that.
But that wasn’t all that was happening. Not only would Republicans have to stop the popular and charismatic President at all turns, something else even more drastic was needed. The perceived end of a white-dominated power structure spurred the Republican Party into an unbelievable array of measures and actions that would ensure their hold on power, and the Democrats were caught napping through the whole thing.
The voter suppression playbook, as highlighted in the documentary, goes through a series of actions the Republican Party took over a number of years that would solidify and strengthen their ability to seize and hold on to power for years to come, beginning seconds it would seem, after President Obama removed his hand from the bible and swore his oath to the Constitution of the United States.
Project Red Map
For the first time in memory, the Republican Party leadership decided to spend millions of dollars trying to change 20 state legislative bodies from blue to red in the 2010 election. They had willing participants in this endeavor, as the Koch Brothers and other wealthy donors stepped up to the plate.
The scheme worked even better than they could have imagined. Not only were 700 seats changed, but two of the most sought after swing states, Wisconsin and North Carolina, were flipped to the red column.
So why all of the fuss over winning back state legislatures in 2010? With the coming Census that year, Republicans had the foresight to realize that by controlling as many legislative bodies as possible, they would be able to control the redistricting process in 2011, laying the groundwork for some of the most surgical gerrymandering in history.
While Democrats and Republicans exploited this process in the past, never before have we seen it done as blatantly as the Republicans in 2011. By using methods known as “packing” and “cracking,” they were able to draw surgically precise districts, maximizing partisan advantage.
“Packing” refers to putting as many African-Americans and Hispanics into as few districts as possible. “Cracking” refers to taking people of color and “cracking” them into as many areas as possible to such a degree that their votes would not make a difference. Thus, in 2012, statehouse candidates in Pennsylvania won over 51% of the vote, but only won 28% of the seats. That same scenario would play out in many states over the next several election cycles.
Voter Restriction Laws
The reality is that about 90% of the people in America have a drivers license or passport. Unfortunately, the other 10% do not, and it’s the people in this group who the Republicans have systematically targeted. By placing hurdles such as requiring birth certificates and photo ID’s, many people of color, older people, and young people in college may have to travel long distances to their local DMV’s or purchase certificates of birth to become registered to vote. Many election experts have likened these voter restriction laws to a back-handed poll tax on voters, which were banned decades ago.
Gutting The Voting Rights Act
When The Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance portion of the Voting Rights Act, the ink was barely dry when several mostly southern states enacted strict voter suppression laws like cutting down early voting days, getting rid of same-day registration, and eliminating polling locations.
The pre-clearance portion of the Act forced mostly Southern states to ask for permission before they wanted to make any changes to voting requirements, due to their history of discrimination against primarily African-Americans. By gutting this portion, The Supreme Court opened the door to these states to begin suppression techniques again.
Over and over again, we’ve seen that voter fraud is not an issue in the United States. One study showed that between 2002 and 2005, only 40 people out of 197 million allegedly committed fraud in federal elections—a rate of 0.0002%.
However, the Republican Party continues to leverage this falsehood over and over. Launching initiatives such as “The Voter Integrity Project,” which demagogues the issue of massive voter fraud, has the intended result of scaring voters and prompting ballot measures that mandate stricter ID requirements. And none other than the current President of the United States is perhaps the most vocal proponent of the massive voter fraud narrative.
Voter Roll Purges
We’ve heard of this going on in many states in recent years, Georgia the most notorious in 2018. The usual process revolves around scouring the voting registration rolls for inactive voters and then sending them a notice in the mail to verify they are who they say they are. In many cases, the warning will demand that they show up in person to prove it.
Of course, many do not show up, nor do they receive the notice at all. The result is a removal from the voting roll, and on election day, their names will not show up on the registration list. Federal law mandates a provisional ballot option in these situations, but again, the person must usually go to the local election board after the election to prove their identity. Once again, more hurdles.
Voter intimidation can take many forms. In many states, we see billboards stating that by engaging in voter fraud, you will be subjecting yourself to jail time. And in some cases, citizens have been known to stake out voting locations to “challenge” people standing in line as to whether they have a legal right to vote. The aim here is to make voting a dangerous proposition. If it keeps a few people from showing up, mission accomplished.
Once again, the idea here is to target the emerging demographic voting population. While most people do have driver’s licenses, a sizable minority does not, thus throwing more hoops into the process. It used to be that a college photo ID was sufficient to prove your identity. Many states no longer allow this kind of ID, compelling either a trip to the DMV or filling out forms issued by the state. Many college students, African-Americans, and Hispanics use public transportation and do not have driver’s licenses, thus disenfranchising many prospective voters.
Voter Integrity Commission
Following along the same lines as the “Voter Integrity Project,” this was an attempt by President Trump to “get to the bottom” of the “massive” voter fraud being committed in the United States. Started in 2017, led by Vice-President Pence and long-time voter fraud demagogue Kris Kobach, the commission was in and of itself, a fraud. Trump disbanded the commission in 2018, unable to gain any traction whatsoever. Trump, of course, blamed the states for not cooperating. But the commission was doomed from the start. Integrity was not present.
Change The Courts
Finally, with the election of Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate, this endeavor could now be realized. Trump has now confirmed more federal court judges than any of his predecessors had done in the same period of their presidencies. Most of the judges are straight out of the Federalist Society, a right-wing think tank known for recommending extremist ideological candidates. By the end of his first term, if the same rate of confirmations remains intact, Trump is on track to confirm nearly 30% of all federal judges.
The result most certainly cannot bode well for voting rights in America. We’ve already seen what the Supreme Court has done to the Voting Rights Act. Indeed, most of these new judges come from the same cloth. In other words, the Democratic Party could be at a disadvantage for years to come as it pertains to obtaining and keeping power. The Republicans have out-foxed, out-maneuvered, and out-worked the Democrats when it comes to this issue.
Since 2016, more than 30 states have introduced bills to restrict voter registration and voting. And with the recent Supreme Court decision to not address partisan gerrymandering, it gets even more challenging moving forward.
But, as we saw in 2018 with the blue wave in the House of Representatives, Democrats can overcome these hoops and hurdles. And in another bit of good news, Utah, Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado, all passed ballot initiatives to stop partisan gerrymandering by establishing independent redistricting commissions, which brings the total to 21 states who now have at least some form of non-partisan or bi-partisan commission for redistricting.
So, there’s hope at least. But what we have to keep in mind in our two-party system of government, is the fact that one party is fighting to make it easier to vote; the other party is doing the exact opposite. We need to accentuate this fact over and over.
In the documentary, long-time Republican strategist Mark Mckinnon shared his thoughts on what happened after the election of Barack Obama. A moderate, Mckinnon revealed how he advised many Republicans that the best way forward for the party was to change in such a way that they could attract some of the emerging demographic voters such as Hispanics and African-Americans. In other words, a kinder and gentler Republican Party.
As he said, they didn’t listen.
Once again, my friend, you have done excellent work with this piece. I have said for nearly three years now that Trump’s election was push-back against having had 8 years under an African-American president. As you recall, throughout President Obama’s two terms, we heard the most ridiculous criticisms of him by republicans, and once you put it all together, it added up to one thing … they didn’t like the idea that a black man had actually won, was actually running the country. 99% of their complaints were laughable, so we ignored them. We’re not laughing anymore, though. The GOP has become insanely power-hungry and have sacrificed any shred of integrity they ever had to keep that power. We have an uphill battle ahead of us, one that I’m not sure we can win, but we must keep trying. You and I are a small part of that, but I think our role here is important. Thanks for this good piece, and also the link to the documentary. I shall re-blog at 3:00!
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Thank you Jill. Always honored when you reblog. If you’ve noticed the last few days, the GOP, with tears in their eyes, have been lamenting how ‘respectful’ they all were to Obama. Are you kidding me? They just say stuff, knowing they’ll be fact checked…and couldn’t care less. The gall and hypocrisy of this political party has no limits.
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Your posts are always exceptional and deserve to be seen by as many people as possible … NEED to be seen by as many as possible. I’m surprised, though, that I haven’t seen the GOP speaking about how respectful they were to Obama! That would have me throwing things! Bullshit!
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Yeah…they were soooooo respectful of him!!! They sure have short memories do they not?
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Selective memories, I would say, or demented memories.
Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
When Trump was electorally elected (never forget that he actually lost the election – lost the vote of the people by nearly 3 million votes), I said it was a pushback against the country having had an African-American President for 8 years. But, given Trump’s bluster, his nastiness, his dishonesty, his schoolyard bullying ways, I thought it would not be long before Republicans began leaving the GOP in droves, thus forcing the party to change its ways, to move back more to the center of political ideology and distance itself from Trump. Shows what I know, eh? That didn’t happen, still hasn’t happened, and the GOP has sacrificed any shred of integrity it may have once had to rig and skew next year’s election. Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a well-researched piece and included a link to a documentary that is an eye-opener. Thanks, Jeff, for your hard work on this post and permission to share it with my friends & readers.
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Thank you Jill!……anytime of course
Great post. I look forward to seeing this. This actually dates back to the late 1990s when the Koch Brothers saw the future demographics not favoring the GOP. So, a long term plan was fomented that included voter suppression, but also other strategies like changing the governance of public universities once state legislatures went Republican, endeavoring to white-wash history lessening coverage of Native American genocide, Jim Crow, slavery and the Holocaust, funding non-public school options where curriculum could be tailored, limiting the flow of immigrants and even gaining enough states to change the constitution to go back to the state appointing senators.
I recognize this all sounds strange, but I have picked this up from several sources, including a former Republican stratgegist named Steve Schmidt. He forewarned how critical it was for the Dems to retake the House or we might be headed toward “Trumpistan.”
This is why it is so important that people vote. Trump won, in part, because he got many Dems to stay home or vote for Jill Flynn. Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy, our planet and the Republican Party, the latter of which he has already harmed. This comes from an Independent and former Republican voter. Keith
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Thanks a lot Keith. I appreciate that. I agree with everything you wrote. I do know about the Koch Brothers and their history. I think one of them actually ran for president or vp in 1980 as a Libertarian. Don’t quote me on that. But yeah, this is so serious. I can’t believe the situation we find ourselves in. I hope we beat him…and beat him so bad he won’t know what hit him. All hands on deck!!
On a relevant topic, I sent the following letter to my local and hometown newspaper. Please feel free to use. I have been quite active on this subject letting Republicans who pushed back know they have political courage and letting others know about the judge who left the GOP due to Trump’s racist remarks and other world leaders who have condemned the remarks. In short, bullies like the president will not stop until they are made to stop bullying.
If someone is having a hard time seeing the racism in Trump’s “send her back” theme he is now perpetuating, here is an easy question to demonstrate. Has he ever said “send him back” with critics like Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders? A follow-up is to ask why he perpetuated for years that Barack Obama was not born here? No, the color of someone’s skin and name matter. These are not isolated mistakes for which he apologized for – they are racist dog whistles.
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Thanks Keith. I commend your attempt to hold Republicans accountable. They are the party of Trump. I’ll never forget or forgive their complicity. The only ones who speak out are either retiring or who are outside of politics. Unacceptable!
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Like everything elde in the USA, voting is meant to be for white christian males only. The republican party is doing their best to make this come true. There are more non-whites than there are whites in America, how can this be happening? Because even certain democratic party members are willing to go along with it. They don’t want to give up their power either.
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Maybe a valid third party? I don’t know what else would work. I’m a lifelong Dem but an actual third party that could compete against the two sure as hell couldn’t make it worse…at least I don’t think so. I know it’s far-fetched because the two parties have made it next to impossible to get in the game. I can hope though.
Over the years I have heard of a number of “third” parties being formed, but as of yet none have appeared.
It would do wonders for your political system, but I think it would be heard to establish given your dominant two-party system. Some people have a hard enough time choosing between two bad parties, bringing in a third might confuse them into inaction. Not to say that the third party would be as corrupt as the present two, but how else do you fight the establIshment. Trump has made it clear a huge number of voters are willing to reward terrible politicians. What you really need is a whole new system, IMO. (And so do most western nations. Democracy only works in theory, not in reality!)
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If the two parties are in perpetual control, which they are, democracy suffers. It becomes to predictable..the people are not served well…and the rich? well, we know what happens to them…they get richer and richer. Something has to change!!
You have said it! I have been saying it for years. But we are nobodies. It seems you have to have money to become a somebody, before anybody will listen to you. And if you are a somebody, you want to stay a somebody.
Imagine Donald J. Trump being just Trump. He’ll go crazy after losing all his power. He cannot afford to let that happen. His narcissism requires he make himself king or emporer or supreme dictator. Anything else will be a death sentence.
I can just imagine him in an institution: “No. Really! I am President of the United States. Everybody loves me. They want me to be their president. I was the best president ever! Nobody was better! I’m going to get my wall! I am…
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LOL….The idea of him in an institution brings me much laughter and happiness!!
If only it is a true vision, and not a useless hope.
Jill, if you view this comment, please don’t have a stroke caused by too much dopamine in the brain. Although, laughing yourself to death could be the best ever way to go.
Thank you so much, Brookingslib, for commenting on this election issue, but which is scarier? Conservative Socialist Democrats are too healthy that they are willing to tax the companies that feed us foods. Liberal Capitalist Republicans can create ethical robots and machines to be our waitresses at restaurants for low cost, better quality and that can multiply everywhere for us, through tax cuts that create more markets, higher incomes for all humans, and more technologies that can cure illnesses.
HI Derek. Thanks for reading. A lot to unpack here. I’ll just say that income inequality is a real problem, not just in America, but around the world. The rich are getting a pretty good deal. They have lower tax rates over here, and who knows how many billions they’re storing in offshore tax havens. And corporations? Well, they run the place Derek. Until we can get our democracy back and level the playing field, I feel we’re heading into dangerous territory. Let’s fix our health care system properly..let’s make it much more affordable to go to college, or trade schools. Let’s get big and dark money out of politics. Let’s raise the minimum wage to a ‘livable’ wage…gradually, and maybe even based on cost of living metrics. Let’s make pharmaceutical drugs more affordable. There are so many areas where the middle-class..and those who hope to achieve that status..are falling woefully behind. We can do better…we must do better. The rich can and should pay a little more.
The current President has filled the swamp he so confidently stated that he was going to drain. Unacceptable. Oh, and one more thing…let’s make voting easier for our citizens…not the other way around. Thanks again for responding Derek. I appreciate the feedback. Hope you stick around….
Brookingslib, this is well said. It is not ironic that American flourished the most when our middle class was at its largest and more could afford a small home for the families. Today, we the disparity between the haves and have nots has widened to an unsustainable level. Too many employers are avoiding full-time workers to lessen benefit costs, too many investors are preying on the fragile through buying up apartments, rental houses, and trailer parks and jacking up rates, too many pay day lenders and high risk lenders are preying on people who cannot afford 23% car loans or a pay-day loan that builds to over 1,000% annual rate.
We must do all of those things and help people climb ladders, get opportunities and avoid financial predators. What many in America do not realize is we have a blend of fettered capitalism and socialist underpinnings (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, Workers Comp, etc.). We need healthy, data driven debate on the right balance. People should not have to declare bankruptcy because of low or no health insurance. Keith
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So true Keith. I try explaining this to Trump supporters and I may as well be talking to the wall. But yes, we have a mixture of Democratic Socialism and capitalism. That’s the way it’s been for a long time and that’s the way it shall stay for a long time. The so-called free market could not exist without rules of the rode set forth by government…another fact conservatives don’t seem to understand. I’m going to keep trying though!!