Conservative Response to Automatic Voter Reg

Daniel FosterJonathan Chait is right about this, Hillary Clinton Calls the Republican Bluff on Voting Rights. It’s about Clinton’s call last week for automatic voter registration. The summary of the article is, “A new idea to make voting easy that Republicans will have to come up with a reason to oppose.” Because that really is the issue. Republicans have come out big in recent years for making voting as hard as possible. It is always posed as fighting against “voter fraud.” But in fact, it is just a way to get as few people voting as possible because the more people who vote the better liberal politicians and ideas do.

At the end of his article, Chait highlights Daniel Foster in National Review, who wrote, Don’t Make Democracy More Like The Internet. He claimed that automatic voter registration would be “a terrible idea” and “not just because it would certainly be devastating to the electoral prospects of conservatives.” And then he goes on to explain why democracy is a bad thing and it should be limited to those who care enough to jump through all the hoops. He claimed that sure, “dolts” (his word) ought to have the right to vote if they are willing to do everything that Republicans do to stop them, but “that doesn’t mean we have to encourage” them.

This is a standard argument that I have heard from conservatives for decades. But it is fundamentally wrong. Older people are more likely to vote than younger people, but that doesn’t mean that they care more about voting. Older people have — on average — huge advantages that make voting easy for them: they don’t have children to care for; they don’t have jobs to go to; they don’t move often. So arguments like those of Foster are not about who cares the most about politics; they are about which demographics are seen as better because they are more likely to vote for conservatives.

In general, when people complain to me about voters who don’t understand the issues, it turns out that the complainer is extremely ignorant about the issues. The argument really only ever means, “These people don’t agree with me!” Of course, Fox News has made this infinitely worse by allowing its addicts to think that they are being well informed when they are actually being well disinformed. The people who just watch the nightly news are usually better informed that Fox News viewers — except when it comes to Solyndra and Jade Helm.

Democracy is an extremely humble form of government. It is dependent upon the idea that none of us has a monopoly on the truth and so we are better off getting everyone’s input. Conservatives have never much liked this idea. They see democracy as mob rule. And indeed, it can be. But not having democracy leads inexorably to tyranny. The alternative to democracy isn’t some perfect as yet undisclosed system. But conservatives continue to push against democracy because they ultimately believe in monarchy — just one that they are in control of.

At the same time that conservatives are pushing for less democracy, they are undermining the very idea of absolute truth. This is what is behind their war science. So they aren’t even making the argument that the masses get certain issues wrong on a factual basis. Conservatives don’t even care about the factual basis of their claims. They just want the world to work a certain way, and if that isn’t true, they don’t care. They are the ones who define reality. That’s why Sam Brownback claimed that cutting corporate and other taxes on the rich would increase revenue for the state, and after the opposite happened, he continues to stay the course.

The question is whether the conservatives will come up with a better argument than Daniel Foster did to counter Hillary Clinton’s idea to make voter registration automatic. My guess is that they won’t. They will just bluster their way through it. They will never say that democracy is bad, but they will make their “only people who care” argument. They will throw in a little “voter fraud” and how we can’t do a thing until there is not a single fraudulent vote in the nation. And they will just move on. Don’t expect the media establishment to question them.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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