By Robert A. Vella
The essential trait of hubris is that it knows no bounds. No matter how well-conceived nor meticulously executed, the most intricate schemes are always betrayed by the devious minds behind them. This is the very nature of power, how its corruptness is directly proportional to its strength.
When the rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, right-wing Tea Party rose to political power after the 2010 midterm elections, one of their highest priorities was to undermine the populist wave that swept Barack Obama into the White House two years earlier. Their plan was simple, yet bold. First, they would minimize Democratic representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the state legislatures through aggressive gerrymandering wherever possible. Second, they would task conservative think tanks and advocacy organizations (e.g. the American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC) to develop and push model legislation and other measures in Republican-controlled states which would: 1) reduce the ranks of eligible voters in urban, heavily Democratic areas; and, 2) discourage eligible voters in those same areas by making the process of voting much more difficult. Third, they would directly attack the legal constructs which facilitate democratic participation in the populace (e.g. the 1965 Voting Rights Act) through the judicial system.
Despite a few setbacks in their gerrymandering efforts, and numerous and ongoing court challenges to their voter suppression laws, the Tea Party has been largely successful in manufacturing a structural electoral advantage for Republicans throughout most of the nation. Their crowning achievement was a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Citizens United in 2010, eviscerating the Voting Rights Act in 2013, McCutcheon in 2014, and Hobby Lobby in 2014), enabled by a 5-4 conservative majority on the court, which all subordinated the fundamentals of democracy under the arbitrary auspices of big money and special interests.
How successful was their plan? Compare the political state of 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, with the political state in 2016. Today, Republicans control both houses of the U.S. Congress as well as the vast majority of governorships and state legislatures. Did the general decline of civic participation in America help the Tea Party? Of course, it did. Did mistakes by President Obama and the Democratic Party leadership also help them? Yes, most certainly. But, it’s hard to question their achievements considering that was precisely what they had set out to do.
Along the way, several Republican officials made public comments which inadvertently admitted this devious plan to undermine democracy in the United States. Party leaders were quick to walk them back for fear of contradicting their duplicitous rationale for voter id laws, etc. Still, their hubris cannot be contained…
From The Hill – Dems amp up charges of voter suppression in Wisconsin:
As evidence, the Democrats are highlighting comments from Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), who said Tuesday that the new voting requirements could help ensure a victory for the GOP nominee in the Badger State, which has not voted to send a Republican to the White House since 1984.
“I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up,” Grothman told an NBC affiliate in Milwaukee. “And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”
The Democrats pounced, with Laning saying Grothman “slipped up last night and accidentally told the truth.”
“He might as well have said Republicans are working to rig elections to win,” she said.
This is getting really, really bizarre. In an angry speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ranted about the Supreme Court. Specifically about the politicization of the Supreme Court. Specifically about the politicization of Chief Justice John Roberts. It was profoundly weird.
“With all due respect to the Chief Justice,” Grassley intoned, “tens of millions of Americans believe correctly the Supreme Court has transgressed the limits of its role.” He continued:
The confirmation process has gotten political precisely because the Court itself has drifted from the Constitutional text and rendered decisions based instead on policy preferences. In fact, many of my constituents believe with all due respect that the chief justice is part of this problem. […]
The chief justice regrets that the American people believe that the court is no different from the political branches of government. But again, and with respect, I think he is concerned with the wrong problem. He would be well served to address the reality, not the perception, that too often there is little difference between the actions of the court and the actions of the political branches.
So, physician heal thyself. He would be well served to address the reality, not the perception, that too often there is little difference between the actions of the Court and the actions of the political branches. So, physician heal thyself.