Divide And Conquer Beats Working Harder

Republicans can't even be bothered to read -- much less write -- bills they've introduced in legislatures across the country. That would be too much work for the tax money and health benefits they receive. As The Tennessean reported last week:

Several of the most controversial bills debated in the legislature this year, as well as some that have slipped under the radar without much attention, were written and promoted by groups outside Tennessee, a trend some political observers say reflects an attempt to push the nation in a conservative direction using state lawmakers.

Without even reading it, Tennessee Rep. Judd Matheny and Sen. Bill Ketron filed the Material Support to Designated Entities Act. According to the paper, the ostensibly anti-terrorism bill targets "organizations that follow Shariah, or Islamic law." The conservative Eagle Forum had provided the bill which, in turn, had been drafted by David Yerushalmi (who initially denied authorship), an Arizona attorney who "has long questioned the loyalty of American Muslims."

American politics, says Rolling Stone  investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, has become "a reality show" sponsored by Wall Street. From Voter ID bills to anti-union legislation to attempts to privatize public education, the GOP has only to follow the financiers' script. The corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber do most of the work. All the money men demand is for Republicans to drop the bills in the hopper and vote for them.

Like the Voter ID bills rushed through in Minnesota, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin -- as many as 22 states. What people need to see is that the GOP's push to suppress the vote in 2012 and beyond is a nationwide strategy. Writing for the Huffington Post, David Love observes:

Often an effective means to divide and conquer in the short term, the Southern Strategy has revealed its fatal flaw: In an increasingly diverse nation such as the U.S., Republican dependence on a dwindling demographic of angry, rightwing Tea Party folks for their electoral victory leaves them with only one of two options: Fade into oblivion, or, as thugs would do in corrupt regimes and banana republics, suppress the vote. And that's why the GOP, predicting their own failure to prevail on the merits of their positions before a national audience, has taken it to the gutter.

This time, it's called Voter ID. This year, conservative lawmakers in 20 states such as Montana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin are pushing bills that would require voters to produce an ID, typically a driver's license, state-issued ID, passport, Legislation recently passed in the Florida and Texas legislatures, and the governors of Kansas and South Carolina have or soon will sign Voter ID bills into law. And 13 of 27 states that already have such a law are considering beefing up their requirements.

All to fight the imaginary scourge of voters passing themselves off at the polls as Mickey Mouse, the latest retread of the WMD scam Republicans used to con the country into invading Iraq. Where are all these fraudulent voters, you ask? "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Because they certainly weren't anywhere near the polls in Kentucky during last Tuesday's primary, where only six calls came into the state's election fraud hot line. None involved Mickey Mouse attempting to vote.

"Politics is about mobilizing your people," says Mike Munger, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for North Carolina governor in 2008. “This is something Democrats did very well.” But Republicans won't work harder to mobilize their own voters. And you can't buy volunteers. It's easier to throw roadblocks in the way of people who might vote Democrat.

(Cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans.)