The battle waging right now in a Harrisburg courtroom over Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is more than just a fight about voter fraud and clean elections.
It is a war of ideals, with no less at stake than the very foundation of our democracy — whether all legal citizens of the commonwealth are allowed to choose their leaders in a free and fair election, or whether we should allow one political party to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters out of fear they’d vote for the other party. (No Democratic legislator voted “yes” on voter ID. Not one.)
Forget the GOP smokescreen about clamping down on supposed fraud at the polls — they’ve already admitted freely that’s just something they made up.
The state’s defense is mounted by the attorney general’s office, acting in this case as the legal division of the Republican Party, who actually stipulated that it is “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and has no direct knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere.” The state’s lawyers also conceded they could offer no evidence that “in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the photo ID law.”
I’m sorry… what?
The whole basis of the voter ID law, or so they claimed, was to curb the runaway fraud which threatened to turn Pennsylvania’s electoral process into a useless sham. Didn’t they just trot out a report authored by Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt that purported to outline shocking “irregularities” in Philadelphia voting? You mean to tell me with all the money and manpower these guys have invested to ramrod this law through, they couldn’t come up with even one concrete example of fraud?
No, they couldn’t. So what then are we left with as a reason for state Republicans pushing this law with such zeal and determination? Well, they admitted that too, just a few weeks ago when House Majority Leader Mike Turzai let it slip out when pandering to a gathering of GOP faithful.
“Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done,” Turzai boasted to the crowd, which promptly broke into thunderous applause.
On a side note, I haven’t seen hide or hair of Turzai since he let the cat out of the bag last month. He committed the only unforgivable sin in politics — telling the truth in an open venue — and right now he’s probably paying for it. My guess is that the GOP has him in a safe house somewhere for intensive reprogramming and indoctrination — sort of a Witless Protection Program.
I’m glad Turzai told tales out of school, even by accident, and I commend his lack of political judgment. In fact, I wish his Republican colleagues, starting with Gov. Corbett, would do the same.
Just say it out loud. Come out and admit that the Black people, brown people and old people likely to vote for President Obama’s re-election must be kept from the polls, and a draconian voter ID law is the closest you can legally come to enacting a good old Jim Crow “poll tax.” Explain to us how since “those people” don’t pay taxes, don’t own property, don’t run businesses and drain the state treasury through welfare and Medicare entitlements, they don’t deserve the same right to vote as hard-working American “job creators.”
Tell us how much better Blacks and other minorities will fare under the administration of President Willard Romney, who loves dark-skinned folks so much he pays them to do his cooking, cleaning and yard work.
And while you’re at it, why not come clean about your hatred for gays, women, immigrants, Muslims and anyone else that wouldn’t fit in at a skinhead rally?
Now, I’m not saying all Republicans are racist, homophobic misogynists. I happen to know quite a few whose values, compassion and common sense I greatly admire, even if I disagree with their politics. But what I am saying is that those decent, honorable conservatives have allowed their party to be hijacked by hate-filled dimwits.
Nothing else could explain Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand for an apology from Attorney General Eric Holder for calling the Texas voter ID law a “poll tax.” Perry, who you may recall came under some fire during the GOP primaries for his proud ownership of an offensively-named hunting ranch, said Holder’s remark was reprehensible for inciting racial tensions.
When Rick Perry is demanding apologies for inciting racial tension, you know the inmates have taken over the asylum. And you also know voter ID laws really are a poll tax after all.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.