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Poor Karl Rove Doesn't Want To Vote For Trump-- But If Push Comes To Shove, He Will

"Dixie's Revenge" by Nancy Ohanian

Karl Rove may not like Trump— but in the end, he’s a hard right Republican imbued with the wishful thinking that, as he noted in his Wall Street Journal column yesterday that “the Democratic base might stay home if Biden runs. Will he vote for Trump over Biden? He’ll hold his nose but… yeah. But for now, he’s still warning— begging— Republicans to nominate someone other than Trump. He’s pushing the #NeverTrump line that Trump can’t win, but anyone else could because Biden is so weak.

Yesterday’s version compared Trump v Biden to Romney v Obama and tried alarming Republicans that Biden’s brain trust will make the election about Trump’s flaws instead of Biden’s (as though lesser of two evils elections aren’t the only kinds of elections we ever see anymore). “Trump’s standing,” he wrote, “has deteriorated since that election over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol and his unending, falsehood-filled grievances about what he claims was the ‘stolen’ 2020 election… [E]xpect Team Biden to reuse the 2012 Democratic playbook. Like Biden, President Obama was vulnerable headed into his re-election campaign. His stimulus bill and Affordable Care Act had provoked the populist tea-party revolt. His campaign needed to change the contest from a referendum on Obama’s performance to a choice between an imperfect incumbent and an unacceptable challenger. The Obama high command quickly swung into action, blasting Mitt Romney well before he had won the long, contentious and costly nomination battle on April 24. Team Obama recognized that extolling Obama’s first-term record and outlining his vision for the future were insufficient.”

Rove is right— and wrong. In Republican eyes, Obama was a dismal, collapsing failure instead of another in a long line of acceptably mediocre presidents. Obama was the first president since Reagan to win both his races with popular vote majorities. He won all the blue wall states, even if he did lose Indiana and North Carolina, two red states he won in 2008. He still won swing states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Iowa. And even if Rove and his ideologically-twisted cronies thought Obama was teetering, Obama improved his percentage of votes not just in blue states like New York, New Jersey and Maryland, but even in red states Louisiana, Alaska and Mississippi. And, yes, blasting Romney for his record as a filthy rich, out-of-touch plutocrat, indifferent to people’s everyday struggles, did work. So?

Team Biden seems to understand that it needs to focus the 2024 race similarly on savaging the GOP contender. They also obviously know that strategy depends in large part on how vulnerable a target Republicans nominate— hence their fixation on Trump.
Biden’s April 24 announcement video cleverly opened with clips of Trump’s supporters beating police during the riots on Jan. 6. Biden then denounced “MAGA extremists” as an image of Trump— pictured with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis— flashed on screen. Expect to see similar barrages as the campaign wears on if Biden gets the opponent he so desperately desires.
Today, the GOP seems unfortunately inclined to nominate the only man Mr. Biden thinks he can beat. But that could well change. Ask Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush, early leaders in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 nomination campaigns, respectively. There’s time for Republicans to get this right. They’d better.

They won’t. Trump will be their nominee. His position in nothing like Jeb’s, Rudy’s or Newt’s. The only thing that may save the GOP from a Trump nomination would be if he winds up in prison— which could happen but… probably won’t. The Republican establishment knows exactly what it has to do to win— and is in full swing doing just that. “Everywhere you turn these days, free and fair elections are under attack. In a single day, the new Republican majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of partisan gerrymandering and voter ID, and against enfranchising 56,000 individuals on felony supervised release. Republican-controlled states continue to advance new, bolder voter suppression laws. Ohio enacted one in January. Arkansas and South Dakota made voting more difficult in February. Idaho targeted students in March. In early May, Florida passed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) fake-fraud suppression bill. We are awaiting further anti-voting laws in Georgia, Texas, Montana and elsewhere. The names of the states change, but the results are the same: voting for minorities and young voters becomes harder and elections become less free and fair. The terrible truth is that these new voter suppression laws are working. Despite the positive political outcome, turnout among minority and young voters in 2022 was down from previous years.”

The myth that citizens can out-organize voter suppression is not just wrong, it is dangerous. It minimizes the real world effects of repeated, targeted suppression laws. It shifts the burden from the suppressors to the voters. It suggests that victims of voter suppression simply need to be better “organized.”
Sadly, suggesting that citizens can use organizing to defeat voter suppression also fuels a false narrative too many are inclined to adopt. It turns voter suppression and the fight against it into a question of campaign tactics rather than the illegal and immoral deprivation of constitutional rights.
Intentional voter suppression is happening, and it is weakening our democracy. Our elections are becoming steadily less free and fair. Addressing systematic voter suppression by simply “organizing” is like giving a shot of cortisone to fix a damaged joint. It may temporarily relieve the pain, but the joint will weaken in the long run.
A citizen who has their voter registration challenged by partisan operatives may ultimately be permitted to vote, but they are unlikely to feel as secure in their rights. A voter may be coaxed to wait online for hours to vote in a presidential election year. But how will that voter feel about voting in the next election, when there is no well-funded campaign effort to organize them? A voter who votes, but later finds out their ballot has been rejected due to no fault of their own may be convinced to submit paperwork to “cure” the defect, but their confidence that their vote will count in the future will be undermined.
This is not to say that organizing is not important or that Democrats should not engage communities to get out the vote. I am a huge believer in the power and importance of organizing as a tool to build enthusiasm and turnout. At its best, organizing empowers voters to feel a connection with a candidate or cause. However, reducing it to a remedy to the indignity of voter suppression cheapens it.
The way to defeat voter suppression is by defeating it head on, not by celebrating working around it. The first step to fighting it is to call voter suppression what it is: the deprivation of constitutional rights, often based on race, ethnicity or age. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have spoken forcefully and in blunt terms about it. We need to all follow their example.
Second, we need to label those who support voter suppression as vote suppressors. We need to accept that a vote suppressor who opposes an unconstitutional insurrection is still a vote suppressor. It is not heroic to reject an invitation to commit treason. It is villainous to make laws that prevent your fellow citizens from voting.
Finally, we must call out and challenge voter suppression everywhere it is found— in red states and blue states, in safe states and in swing states. All tactics must be on the table. This means legislating where we can, civic action and protests where we must, and litigation where there is no other alternative. If we organize ourselves to fight voter suppression, we won’t have to try to organize voters to overcome it.


1 Comment

May 05, 2023

correctly IDing this problem (voter suppression by the nazis) is the first step that this column does a fair job of.

"...targeted suppression laws. It shifts the burden from the suppressors to the voters."

"(inaction by your democraps) turns voter suppression and the fight against it into a question of campaign tactics rather than the illegal and immoral deprivation of constitutional rights."

There is no fight against it. contrary to a claim in this column, the democraps have been all but mute on the topic. And certainly they have *DONE* nothing about it. Nazi voter suppression has been part of their strategy since Lewis Powell wrote his memo in 1971. Democraps have been doing nothing since they passed VR…

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