By Frank Miele for RealClearPolitics
You didn’t have to be a magician to recognize the sleight-of-hand when Democrats pulled a “voting rights” campaign out of their Jan. 6 “armed insurrection” hat.
Even before President Biden finished his fire-and-brimstone speech condemning Republicans for “placing a dagger at the throat of democracy” in 2021, he and his handlers had pivoted to the 2022 midterm elections and the necessity of Democrats winning them.
It was bad enough when the domestic (i.e., Republican) “terrorists” were running through the halls of Congress, but God forbid they ever have the chance to actually run Congress again, right?
So that meant Democrats needed to find some way to overcome Biden’s lousy poll numbers and win the midterms despite being massively unpopular. And the only way to do that was a little something called “election reform.”
So Joe Biden staked the future of his party on yet another angry speech, this time about protecting the “right to vote” from all enemies, foreign and domestic. The “defeated former president” (he who will not be named) was the chief domestic enemy, but his band of racist Republican senators were just as dangerous.
And, of course, the media pundits nodded their heads in agreement. Orange man bad, and doddering Joe jolly well good. Time and again, we heard the darlings of the left complain about Republican efforts at “voter suppression,” which they say is a wicked scheme to undermine democracy by depriving people of the right to vote.
But what does “voter suppression” really mean?
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Ronald Reagan, as in so many things, was able to encapsulate the problem with an aphorism: “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much which isn’t so.”
In the case of “voter suppression,” it means that our liberal friends have conflated the right to vote with the ability to vote in the most convenient way possible, which is not a right at all, but merely a utility. The right to vote has never been put at risk by a Republican legislature.
For that, you need to turn to the Democratic legislatures of the segregationist South, which schemed up various mechanisms such as a poll tax or a literacy test to prevent blacks from voting in the 19th and 20th centuries.
What Republicans have insisted on is that our elections should be run in ways that discourage fraud and political manipulation, namely that individual voters should take responsibility for their own votes and should do so in the manner prescribed by law.
Democrats, on the other hand, want to make it as easy as possible to vote, whether that means turning Election Day into Election Month or turning the sacred act of voting into the equivalent of an Uber delivery, where a political party can collect and transport multiple ballots to unsecured drop boxes and hope for the best (wink wink, nod nod!).
The Democrats’ professed belief is that by merely increasing the number of votes, we are necessarily strengthening democracy. Another way of looking at it is that by inflating the number of votes through political manipulation, we are diluting the value of each vote, not just as a percentage of the whole, but also qualitatively.
The contrast between the two parties is the equivalent of what anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer delineated as the difference between cheap grace and costly grace. Bonhoeffer told his fellow Christians that grace would be a meaningless gift if it were granted to everyone just because they asked for it. The same is true of the right to vote.
As Bonhoeffer wrote, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Costly grace, on the other hand, is “the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. … Above all, it is costly because it costs God the life of His Son; ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”
Now, think about how that compares to the right to vote, a sacred right that was secured by the blood of hundreds of thousands of American patriots, and which ought to be valued as a right above all others because it ensures our guarantee of self-determination.
It is indeed the pearl of great price in society and should not be cheapened by being so easy to obtain that it is thought of as akin to a trip to the convenience store to pick up a loaf of bread.
Yet Democrats have done everything in their power to cheapen voting, to make it seem routine instead of sacred. Election Day used to mean something. It was a time when we gathered together in a ritual of democracy that brought us closer and reassured us that our neighbors were taking their responsibility just as seriously as we were.
“Voter turnout” meant that someone had actually turned out to vote — they had made a positive effort to cast their ballot, because they cared about our country and our future.
Democrats have done everything in their power to replace that grand ritual with a system that not only lessens our connection to each other, but also increases our reliance on political parties to harvest votes and turn elections into a referendum on which party has the most money and the most muscle.
The impact of early voting, for instance, has weakened democracy, not strengthened it. Political parties have learned how to take advantage of voters and “stockpile” early votes as an exercise of raw power. But let’s not kid ourselves. Early voting, by its very nature, decreases the likelihood that voters will be informed when they cast their ballot. In the Information Age we live in, worlds can be moved in a matter of hours, let alone weeks.
Think, for instance, of the difference between how you might have viewed the competency of Biden before the Afghanistan withdrawal and after it. The longer you wait to vote, the more likely you will have the relevant facts about the candidates at your command. Early voting guarantees the opposite, and when you add mail-in ballots into the mix, you are throwing dynamite on top of the powder keg.
Imagine, for instance, a bus driving up to an apartment complex in Los Angeles where a hypothetical 1,000 people live. Forty Democrat volunteers leave the bus and head into the apartment to knock on doors to collect “mail-in” ballots from the residents. The target is 25 ballots for each “volunteer” — although they will be paid $10 or more for each completed signature they return, so they are not really volunteers at all. They are hired guns.
Since this is Los Angeles, we can safely assume that at least 70% of the ballots in this particular apartment building will be cast by what we’ll call “Biden voters” rather than “Trump voters.” We also need to take into account that the ballot harvesters are unsupervised by election officials.
They don’t wear body cameras and since they are paid Democrat operatives, they may be tempted to persuade individual voters to vote for Biden rather than the “defeated former president who is a racist and domestic terrorist.” In that case, you may see the Biden voter tally jump to 90%.
Moreover, the ballot harvester can collect signed blank ballots with the promise to the elderly or otherwise debilitated voter that the ballots will be filled out the “correct” way. Since there is no requirement that a voter has to vote in each race, that can be accomplished by just marking an X in the presidential race. Talk about magic! That is the legal legerdemain that Democrats call “election reform.”
Of course, those 1,000 ballots are probably irrelevant to the final outcome in California, where the Democrat candidate will undoubtedly outperform the Republican candidate by several million votes. But some Democrats have a plan to ensure that ballot harvesting in California would have a huge impact everywhere else. It’s called abolishing the Electoral College.
When that happens, political parties will be incentivized to grab up every vote they can find. States like California that are dominated by a Democrat machine will be turned into an assembly line of cheap votes, and as long as the Democrats get their way and ban voter ID, there will be no way to ensure that those are also legal votes.
Supposedly, requiring voters to prove they are who they say they are is a racist policy because black people apparently don’t have driver licenses or other forms of ID. That’s absurd, of course, in a society that requires ID for anything from buying alcohol to flying on a plane, but that’s the Democrats’ story and they are sticking with it.
Nor do they ever propose programs to increase access to picture ID for minorities or low-income voters. That would be too logical. Instead, they claim that requiring voter ID is voter suppression, and don’t care that the alternative is turning democracy into an “honor system.”
If you want to increase participation in voting, that’s one way to do it: Whoever wants to vote can. But don’t pretend that you are strengthening democracy. You are just cheapening the vote. What makes a strong democracy is not just a large number of votes, but a large number of informed voters. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.”
Too bad Democrats seem to have forgotten that.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His new book, “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends,” and his earlier books are available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter or Gettr @HeartlandDiary.
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