Nia-Malika Henderson and Felicia Sonmez reported yesterday on liberal and conservative responses to the president’s voting rights commission, Obama’s Proposed Voting Commission Under Partisan Fire From Both Sides. I’ve already provided the liberal complain: low expectations and working with anti-democratic conservatives. But I’m really surprised by the conservative complains about the new commission.
The arguments basically come down to the same thing they were saying about the Voting Rights Act. “Some conservatives view the initiative as federal overreaching on an issue that is rightly the province of states…” I see: if the states want to limit voting rights then the federal government should have nothing to say about it. After all, it isn’t like we have any founding principles or a document that says people ought to be equal before the law.
This is all interesting. Conservatives love to wrap themselves in the Constitution the same way they wrap themselves in the flag. They’re like typical American Christians who love the Bible but never take the time to actually read it. As Andrew Sullivan wrote yesterday, the GOP lunges “malevolently toward anything that is not far right. That includes the Constitution…” To them, the Constitution is just a stick to beat liberals with, “You’re not patriotic enough!” It is shameful.
Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation makes the specious argument that since the average waiting time for voting is only 14 minutes, we should do nothing. In other words, because in Northern California I never have to wait at all, Floridians having to wait 6 hours is not a problem. Or to put it another way: the average temperature of my oven is only about 80 degrees, so it doesn’t work at all!
Of course, von Spakovsky’s main point is the usual conservative one: the more people who vote the better liberals do. “Obama’s commission may just be a stalking horse to implement liberals’ latest partisan fantasies of automatic and election day voter registration—so-called reforms that will stifle real improvements and endanger the integrity of our elections.” In other words: don’t make it easier to vote!
As I’ve said before: I understand why conservatives are against voting rights. Just the same, they could be a bit more subtle about it. They could at least claim to believe in democracy. But I suppose the onus is on liberals to highlight this fact. Conservatives are against democracy. Do you really want these people in control of government?