And I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, howl in rage, or just sigh.
They say truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes truth is simply more laughable, in a sad and pathetic way, than fiction. If the courtroom exchange below was from a screenplay someone was trying to peddle to a Hollywood studio, they’d be laughed out of the room, not because it lacked a good “liberal” angle, but because nobody would believe the irony of it all. This is the exchange from the hearing before the Supreme Court of the case of Brnovich V. Democrat National Committe on March 2, 2021, a case concerning the DNC insisting that two provisions in Arizona’s voting laws violate the Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as having a discriminatory impact against minorities. The exchange is a question asked by Justice Barrett (you remember her, the sneak-her-through-just-before-the-clock-strikes-midnight Trump appointee — and it strikes me as hilariously ironic she was the one to ask the question that set the trap the GOP guy stepped right into — what they call in tennis an “unforced error” I suppose?) and the GOP lawyer Mr. Carvin, whose job, theoretically, was to argue “nothing to see here, the laws are perfectly fair” but he had a bit of an oops on that score, hence my laughter, tears, rage and sigh.
Before sharing the exchange, just a note that the two matters at issue in the case are Arizona laws that declare that a ballot submitted outside of the voter’s correct precinct is to be summarily thrown out (and as reasonable as it may sound to require a ballot be in the right precinct, it can be quite confusing to figure out your precinct since, surprise-surprise, Arizona does make it as confusing as possible) and a law that prohibits someone else (other than a family member or mail carrier) from collecting your ballot and delivering it for you, which places a particular burden on some Native American and Hispanic residents of rural areas who may have access to neither a car nor a mailbox, and so need that friendly helping hand to get their ballot in.
The transcript reads as follows.
Justice Barrett:…the DNC had standing and the district court said that it had standing to challenge the out-of-precinct policy because the policy placed a greater imperative on Democratic organizations to educate their voters and because the policy harmed its members who would have voted out-of-precinct. What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct voter ballot disqualification rules on the books?
Mr. Carvin: Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero sum game, and every extra vote they get through unlawful interpretations of Section 2 hurts us. It’s the difference between winning an election 50 to 49 and losing.
Just relish that. Just savor it. Just laugh and cry at the same time. The lawyer speaking on behalf of the Republican Party said, “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
You know, I know, they know, everybody knows that the flood of past, present and future state legislative efforts by Republicans to “prevent voter fraud” and “secure the integrity of the electoral system” has one and only one true purpose, to try to stop Democrats from winning, and keep Republican office holders safe from challenge. It has long been recognized that these efforts to make the electoral process more secure were a solution in search of problem because there is no widespread voter fraud.
But now we have it folks, right out in the open, bluntly stated, the pretense dispensed with, in a transcript from a hearing before the Supreme Court of the United States, a GOP lawyer stating openly what we had all long ago already figured out, that the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to try and “rig the game” by putting every single nuisance roadblock and impediment they can possibly think of in the path of those who tend to vote Democrat (translation: black, latino, the poor, the disadvantaged) so that Republicans might still have a chance to win, as there is no future pathway for them to win otherwise.
One of my favorite cable news political pundits, Joe Scarborough, is fond of saying “demographics is destiny.” Republicans, rather than put forth the work and effort to persuade various demographic groups, be it blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., over to conservative philosophy and conservative policy positions, have opted instead, as their dying gasp, to rig the game, cynically couching it as fighting voter fraud, when in fact it is fighting the destiny of demographics and the fact that the Democrat Party actually puts in the work to put forth policies to appeal to a wide range of voters.
Of course now, the Republicans don’t even have policies or philosophies or principles to offer anyway, since they are now simply the Dear Leader Party, and good luck trying to persuade very many blacks, Hispanics, or women to bow at his feet and worship HIM. Yeah, good luck with that. So what is left for a Republican strategy to win seats and/or hold seats? Suppress the vote. And I laugh, cry, howl, sigh. But as Joe rightly says, demographics is destiny, and so in the end, I just smile. And cheer on Stacey Abrams and Jaime Harrison and all the others fighting to expand voting, make voting easier, keep election systems fair, and defend Democracy.