Conservatives and Democracy: A Tenuous Relationship
How many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome? Good government.
They want everybody to vote!
I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now.
As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as voting populace goes down.
I like to call this statement by Paul Weyrich the Rosetta Stone of the modern conservative movement’s attitude towards democracy. In a few words it encapsulates its world view: democracy is fine, as long as the right people vote, and the wrong people are either discouraged from voting or prohibited from doing so.
This strategy was borne out in 2010: it was a normal, mid-term election, in which 50 million fewer people voted than in 2008. The Obama voters, for a myriad of reasons, stayed home, and the people who vote every time, at every election—overwhelmingly white, middle-aged to elderly, and conservative or conservative-leaning—came out and handed the House back to the GOP. The elections of 2008 were a horror for conservatives, as new voters flocked to the polls. The wrong kind of voters. The 2010 contest was more to their liking, where those new voters fraudulently registered by ACORN and protected by Black Panthers thugs were discouraged to come out, and they had the arena mostly to themselves.
And, of course, after the 2010 elections ceded control of governors’ mansions and statehouses to the most right-wing crop of Republicans ever to take power, laws started getting passed that made it more difficult for natural Democratic constituencies to register to vote. I’m not of the opinion that these new laws make it impossible to vote; it will require much more work to get Democratic voters registered and to the polls. But there is no denying that these laws are aimed at core Democratic groups, and will affect them disproportionately when compared to GOP voters. They’re not the poll taxes or literacy tests of old—thanks to the work done in the 60’s—but the message is clear: if you’re not the “right” sort of voter, we’ll make it more difficult for you to engage, so just stay home and let your betters handle things.