If you’re a partisan party politician, you don’t have to disgrace your office to elicit a gasp of horror from your colleagues. You just have to tell the truth — even by accident.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County spouted just such an inconvenient truth last Saturday at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in Hershey. Turzai was thumping his chest over the Republican-led accomplishments of the state House and Senate when he got caught up in the moment.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done,” Turzai boasted to the wildly enthusiastic crowd. “First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Took all of about 30 minutes before Turzai’s statement ping-ponged around the blogosphere, and both parties launched themselves into full outrage mode.
Democrats’ eyes lit up like a baseball player who sees a big, fat, slow pitch coming at him. The Republicans had thrown them weak cheese, and they were going to hit this one way, way out of the park. It was practically a full-on admission of the GOP agenda to disenfranchise voters, alienate women and repeal those pesky laws that prevent good, decent, white folks from shooting minorities any time they feel like it.
“It’s the smoking gun!” cried Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County.
“We told you so,” said Philly Sen. Vincent Hughes.
While both senators are right, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. The Republicans can, and did, come back with the defense that Turzai was speaking to a partisan crowd at a private event, and Leach and Hughes are angry, desperate liberals grasping at political straws in order to defame a righteous, God-fearing American patriot like Mike Turzai.
In the end, Turzai’s unguarded honesty probably won’t serve Democrats as a rallying cry, but it should serve very well as a call to action.
Have a look at the GOP platform. Check out their ideas, and check out their history. On the voter ID law, for example. Logic would dictate that a political party’s primary interest would be in getting as many people out to vote on Election Day as possible. After all, the more people who vote, the more people who vote for our candidate, right?
Wrong. It’s the Democrats who knock their brains out every election cycle with get out the vote efforts and massive voter registration drives. The Republicans would just as soon not bother. In fact, the voter ID law is in direct opposition to those efforts. They need as few of us — and by us, I mean everyone who isn’t a middle-aged, white, male millionaire — to come to the polls as possible, because a sufficient number of Democratic votes can negate the millions of dollars they’re pouring into this campaign.
The fact that they’re trying every trick in the book to keep you away from the voting booth is proof positive they know how important your individual vote can be. And that is all the incentive you need when deciding on Election Day whether to get up and go to the polls. The GOP knows, and now you know, that a low turnout — or at least a low turnout of minorities — is Romney’s best path to victory.
The GOP agenda on the Castle Doctrine is equally transparent. The doctrine has very little to do with the Second Amendment — that is, there’s nothing in the Castle Doctrine which restricts your ability to buy guns. It simply lifts a few restrictions on when you can use them, and adds a legal get-out-of-jail-free card if you say, “I was afraid for my life!” when you shoot a Black person who happens to be walking home with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
Don’t even get me started on abortion. The fact that the party who wants government out of your private life so willingly invites government intrusion into your bedroom is so hypocritical it defies common sense. Let me get this straight: You support the death penalty, you favor unlimited access to firearms and the unfettered ability to shoot people you don’t like, but your catch phrase is “Respecting the sanctity of life?” Please.
Turzai was right about one thing: You don’t have to actually vote for Romney to ensure his win in November. You just have to not vote at all.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.