The Cowardice Of Their Convictions

[ Posted Thursday, April 9th, 2020 – 16:26 UTC ]

The Republican Party has now been reduced to being so deathly afraid of the unpopularity of their political agenda among the electorate at large that they are now openly admitting that the only way for them to win elections is to suppress as many votes as possible. This is the exact opposite of "having the courage of your convictions," folks. Republicans are quaking in fear of the efforts to expand voting to make it easier and (much more important) safer for everyone, because they think they'll lose if that happens.

This used to be the sort of thing that was left unsaid. It used to be just the murmuring from the smoke-filled rooms in the back, where Republicans felt free to talk among themselves. This is no longer true, since Donald Trump is now openly admitting what they've been fearing all along -- that mail-in voting would mean (as Trump put it): "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." And now that he's just coming right out and admitting it, this has freed up other Republicans to 'fess up to the real truth of their multi-decade attack on easy voting: it was never about "fraud," it has always been about suppressing Democratic votes, period.

Of course, the Republican Party didn't used to be so scared of the voters. They used to actually have the courage of their convictions, a few decades ago. They used to stand for things and have an actual political agenda. They were so convinced of the superiority of that agenda that they would actively try to poach segments of the population that usually voted for Democrats. Conservatives actually used to sincerely court African-American and Latino voters. They'd argue to African-Americans that they wanted to see black businesses start up everywhere and that this was the best way to raise up the community, as opposed to the Democrats who just wanted to prolong the welfare state. "A hand up, not a handout" was their motto. They actively courted Latinos by leaning heavily on "family values," which mostly meant being anti-abortion. This, it was seen, would be a good fit for the overwhelmingly-Catholic Latino population. Republicans used to make these arguments and more to prove that their ideology was a much better fit for America than what the Democrats were peddling.

That was then, this is now. Most of those GOP minority-outreach efforts have now withered on the vine. This is in large part due to the fact that the party itself simply doesn't stand for much of anything anymore, other than tax cuts for the wealthy. That seems to be the only guiding principle they have left. Think about it: when Democrats held the White House and both houses of Congress (at the start of Obama's term), they passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. When the Republicans held all three for the first two years of Donald Trump, the only thing they could manage to agree upon was (you guessed it) yet another tax giveaway to the wealthy and Wall Street. What else did they manage to pass from their agenda? Nothing. Not a thing. Nothing proves that the Republican ideas cupboard is bare more than their absolute failure to do anything for two solid years, even though they controlled the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office.

With so little to brag about, it is no wonder they got slammed in the 2018 midterms. And now they're reduced to openly fighting against making the voting process safe in the age of coronavirus. That's downright pathetic, because it means they have all but given up trying to convince anyone that they even have an ideology left, at this point, other than: "Let's give your boss another big raise and maybe one day it'll finally trickle down to you!" This has utterly failed to materialize each and every time Republicans promise it, and by now people are tired of even hearing it. The one big thing Trump and the Republican Congress passed was a gigantic tax cut, and for the first time it was actually unpopular. This too is a measure of how the Republican arguments have utterly failed to grow their party in any way. So now they're reduced to fighting mail-in voting. They're not even trying to convince anyone that theirs is the better way any more.

There are two rather ironic aspects to this, both involving Florida. The first is that Trump himself just voted absentee (by mail) in their primary. When he was asked about this discrepancy -- why it was fine for him to use mail-in voting but it wasn't fine for Democrats to do so -- he had no answer at all. He needs to get this question repeatedly, just to see him squirm. The second is that in Florida, Republicans have actually very successfully utilized the expansion of mail-in voting in recent years. The state got rid of most of the hurdles for doing so a while back, so now anyone can get an absentee ballot for any reason (or no reason). The Florida GOP was proactive and started signing up hundreds of thousands of its voters to do so, and they've been winning statewide elections partly as a result of dominating the absentee voting. If Trump is going to push the "mail-in voting is bad" line, then that could actually depress GOP turnout in a very key state -- which would indeed be ironic in the extreme.

Mail-in voting is no different, really, than in-person voting. If parties exert themselves, then they can convince lots of their voters that it is the way to go -- as Florida should prove. The parties actually love mail-in voting because most people mail their ballots in early, which means any last-minute "October surprise" news cannot affect these votes. So there really should be no partisan reason why Republicans cannot effectively compete for mail-in votes. But they're obviously terrified to even make the attempt.

Which, again, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republican vote-suppression efforts are only about making it as hard as possible for Democratic voters to cast their ballots. There is no reason for them to believe that expanded (or even universal) mail-in voting would give the Democrats an advantage unless it would allow people who have been effectively disenfranchised a much easier path to casting their ballot.

I actually miss the Republican Party of old, when they would engage in a debate over the superiority of their ideology versus the Democratic agenda. The partisan divide used to be a battle in the marketplace of ideas over who had the best plan to move the country forward. Back then, the GOP wasn't totally bereft of ideas other than "another giant tax cut for the wealthy will certainly solve everything." Back then, they actually did have the courage of their convictions, even though (in my opinion) most of those convictions were pretty wrong-headed. But they'd never admit as much, they'd engage in an intellectual argument on the subject. Nowadays, they can't even bestir themselves to do that. Instead they fight as hard as they can to keep as many citizens from voting as possible, because they think that is the only remaining way they can win elections. Nowadays, they have nothing to rely on than the cowardice of their own convictions, it seems.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


41 Comments on “The Cowardice Of Their Convictions”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Would you say, Chris, that the same analysis can be applied to the recent SCOTUS decision on the Wisconsin primary?

    I mean the conservative majority couldn't even put any of their names down on the paper the decision was written on!

  2. [2] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Let’s not forget how the GOP used mail-in voters in NC. They would offer to pay people to sign up for absentee ballots, then they would go and collect the ballots and “cast them” on the person’s behalf — often without the person filling the ballot out or signing it themselves.

    The result was districts with housing projects suddenly voting Republican in large numbers thanks to absentee ballots.

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Thanks CW. I needed a good laugh.

    The last paragraph about the Republicans not engaging in debate over ideology and the battle of ideas in the marketplace of ideas was especially rich.

    In a bit of timely fortune I am watching Spinal Tap while I type this and it is the scene where they are wandering around backstage and can't find the way to the stage. Just like the Dems they end up going around in circles ending up back where they started.

    If you want people to vote then you should write about Emergency Political Contribution Vouchers so this idea can be entered into the marketplace of ideas to be debated.

    Think of what might happen if all eligible voters got these vouchers. If they use the vouchers they will be invested in the election and will be more likely to vote.

    And they will have a choice of candidates that take big money and candidates that are financed by these vouchers and small donors.

    The truth is that the Dems only want people to vote that will buy into the false choice of different big money candidates being offered.

    Get Real.

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    At least Biden had the courage to put his name on delaying the Wisconsin primaries.

    Or was that somebody else?

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    And as someone living in NJ I am reminded every four years how the Dems do not want to let anyone living in NJ participate in the presidential primary process as it is always decided before we get to vote.

    Which Dems are calling for one primary day that is open to all registered voters so all voters in all states can participate in deciding the nominee?

  6. [6] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "We could while away the hours
    discussing plastic flowers
    and waste another day.
    or we could demand better
    and stop being a regretter
    that lets big money have their way."
    -If I only had a brain parody

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    We could even try to make it so that when a citizen uses a voucher they automatically become registered to vote making it easier for non-voters to particiate and vote.

  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    "And now they're reduced to openly fighting against making the voting process safe in the age of coronavirus. That's downright pathetic"

    Pathetic is an especially inappropriate description for their behavior. Vile, destructive, nauseating, and malignant all work.

    "They're not even trying to convince anyone that theirs is the better way any more."

    They never believed that it was. They were just doing what they were paid to do. Now their voters don't even care. They just want trolls who will say nasty things about the people they hate. That's it. The rest of us had better wake up to what we're up against before it's too late (if it isn't already).

  9. [9] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    BTW - don't think it's lost on the GOP that people of color are disproportionately dying from covid-19. They will consider that an incentive to end the stay at home orders ASAP.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    In view of the recent SCOTUS decision on the Wisconsin primary, do states have to pass legislation in order to protect the health of voters? Can federal legislation do the trick?

  11. [11] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    Chris - Of course this is awful, despicable, etc. but the reality is that there is nothing we can do about it. Wisconsin proves they will do anything necessary to rig the system to insure victory including killing people. Their control of the local government in battleground states insures enough votes in the EC to insure Mr. Trump wins. Biden may have a 5 to 10 million vote majority but he will lose. There are enough GOP states to insure a GOP Senate. In a second term he will cement in place his dictatorial powers forever. We are doomed to live in an authoritarian state we just don't know it yet. Our future is bleak .

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Linda Greenhouse's piece in the NYTimes the other day, analyzing the SCOTUS decision on Wisconsin:

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    SF Bear,

    Your future will indeed be bleak if you do nothing.

  14. [14] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    EM -- I live in San Francisco, 7% of us voted for Mr. Trump. The problem is not here or in most other states, the problem is in those states controlled by the GOP. They prevented a black woman from becoming governor in Georgia because her opponent threw 3000,000 black voters off the rolls just before the election. In North Carolina they prevented thousands of black people from voting. The atrocities go on and on and with the GOP control of the courts in those states and Moscow Mitch's control of the Senate there is NOTHING that can be done about it!

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, just because you happen to be lucky enough to live in an enlightened state, doesn't mean there is nothing that can be done to improve the situation in other states, does it?

    There is ALWAYS something that can be done about it - regardless of what, where or who 'it' is, no?

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Otherwise, you may as well pack up and find another world.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (13,15)-
    Hey, that' my line.

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Yep. Those big money Dems you were referring to have no shame.

    But don't forget the Republicans are also shameful, perhaps even more so.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I was thinking of you, Don, as I posted … with PRiSM's Take Me To The Kaptin top of mind, naturally.

  20. [20] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    Yeah, I can donate money to candidates in those troubled states ( Amy did you get my last check?) but what good will it do if the democratic voters are disenfranchised by the GOP control of the state legislature and courts? What good does it do to send money to Wisconsin or Georgia? I supported Stacy Abrams but without the missing 300,000 voters what chance did she have. Your saying "Don't give up, and Keep on fighting does nothing to change the situation that we are SCREWED! You offer no concrete steps that can lead to a Democratic victory because there are none. We are about to enter a new Dark Age where science is rejected and the masses are kept under the thumb of a Plutocracy with a president for life just as in Russia.

  21. [21] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


    Your trolling is idiotic and boring. It's just astonishing that your project is going nowhere!

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Was that really necessary?

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    SF Bear,

    This one is definitely for you. Enjoy - hope it cheers you up some!

    Wow. That link looks scarier than it really is, I promise. It's just a pretty decent audio of a old tune from 1977, written just for you.

    But, remember, if you ever start watching a video of PRiSM performing this one or any other and you don't see a big blonde-hair street fighter front and center, then just forgettaboutit!

  24. [24] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    In my opinion people that pretend the Republicans are the only ones that don't want people to vote is idiotic and boring.

    And so are people that claim posting my opinions is trolling.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, here's what I think is idiotic and boring - lumping everyone and their opinions into the same pot.

  26. [26] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well, there are two kinds of people: those who like pie, and those who are idiotic and stupid.


  27. [27] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    and also boring.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here Joshua … join me in enjoying a piece of pie!

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, would you like a cup of tea or coffee with that?

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Did you see Trumps presser today? It was really something ...

  32. [32] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    SF Bear-
    Emergency Political Contribution Vouchers could be a concrete step towards a Democratic victory.

    What if just 25, 30 or 40% of regular voters using these vouchers? It would probably be much higher than that as the many voters that never contributed before would be likely to use them.

    And what if 10, 20 or 30% of non-voters used the vouchers? Then they would be more likely to vote.

    And while there is no guarantee the Dems would benefit, higher turnout generally favors the Dems and Trump is not likely to get many of these non-voters because it is unlikely that he will meet the criteria for taking the vouchers of not taking more than 200 dollars in cash and vouchers from any one donor.

    If citizens demanded it and the Dems were able to use that pressure to make it law then Biden would meet the criteria.

    But now is when we need to demand it because they cannot use the usual excuses as the current pandemic has proven the usual excuses left us unprepared for the current crisis.

    It is even possible some or even many Trump supporters would be in favor of these vouchers and he might have to sign the legislation to keep them loyal.

    Polls have consistently shown that a majority (usually around 60%) of Republicans want the big money out of politics.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    … talk about pivoting; he gives it whole new meaning. :(

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Thanks very much, Don.

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think that might be a record.

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Might it have anything to do with a four-four ride, I wonder ...

  37. [37] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    I specifically said people that do the same thing, not everyone.

    After all, with social distancing everyone has to get their own pot. :D

  38. [38] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    everyone can have their own pot pie.

  39. [39] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Don Harris,

    What was that bet you proposed? The one where you'll give up "Get Real" if you lose? And I have to actively push the Biden Democratic Establishment (big money) campaign to go One Demand?

    Peace out, Brother, and take care of yourself, K?
    Please refresh my memory.

    For the record IMO you are not anywhere close to being the troll that Michale is. Perhaps it's because I'm 100% in favor of what you want to see happen. It's just that that "Get Real" is sooo annoying.

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Maybe, if you offer him a piece of pie ...

  41. [41] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Don Harris,

    What if just 25, 30 or 40% of regular voters using these vouchers? It would probably be much higher than that as the many voters that never contributed before would be likely to use them.

    And what if 10, 20 or 30% of non-voters used the vouchers? Then they would be more likely to vote.

    And while there is no guarantee the Dems would benefit, higher turnout generally favors the Dems and Trump is not likely to get many of these non-voters because it is unlikely that he will meet the criteria for taking the vouchers of not taking more than 200 dollars in cash and vouchers from any one donor.

    This is once again one of your rally cry’s to action that sound incredible...until you get to the catch. There is absolutely no chance that your vouchers would pass! None! Zero! You’d be an imbecile if you thought it could! Neither party would pass such a useless program — one that does nothing! Neither candidate meets your criteria of running campaigns that accept only contributions of $200 or less.

    And do you honestly believe they would allow such idiotic criteria — making it punish a candidate for accepting legally allowed donations simply because YOU think anyone who accepts larger amounts than you deem allowed as being the enemy of the people?

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