Republicans and Democrats have a problem with “who” votes, and in the process, the value and worth of citizenship and the franchise are hurt.
On the GOP side, ballot restriction and voter intimidation are features, not bugs. Indeed, in Florida and Georgia, Republicans are calling for Stasi-style police units to handle voter fraud allegations. The spirit of January 6 lives on.
When Senator Mitch McConnell publicly drew an ingenious line between “African American voters” and “Americans,” he said the quiet part out loud. At first glance, the embers of the American Civil War continue to glow. Hard-fought and won voting rights are up for grabs again. The recently enacted restrictions are more than mere obstacles – they are an attempt to dilute “bad” votes and diminish the voice of “bad” citizens in the process.
Meanwhile, in New York’s deep blue, voting for city offices has been opened to all legal residents and “dreamers” who have resided in the city for more than 30 days. Non-citizens will now also have a say in choosing elected representatives and shaping politics in America’s largest city, which often leads the way in which blue America is headed.
New York’s pool of eligible voters swelled overnight by about 800,000, presenting another daunting challenge to the city’s corrupt and incompetent electoral board. That’s more people than those who voted for Mayor Eric Adams in November.
Notably, Adams let the bill become law without signing it. One of his supporters, outgoing City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, has spoken out against how it has diminished votes from black New Yorkers while noting Trump’s gains with Latino voters.
While the movements of the two parts are hardly equivalent or equal, both respond changes in demographics and electoral results. Since 1992, the GOP has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, but twice managed to seize the ring of power solely through the mechanics of the Electoral College. At best, the allegations of fraud are a balm and a fig leaf for the political defeat of nearly half the country.
The fact is that in 2000, Al Gore garnered more than half a million more votes than George W. Bush. Meanwhile, in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s plurality of popular votes topped 2.8 million. And despite tight margins in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Joe Biden’s winning percentage nationally (4.4%) actually surpassed Barack Obama’s (3.9%) in 2012.
Yet 1964 was the last time a Democratic presidential candidate won a majority of votes cast by white Americans. Beyond that, over the past half century, the United States has become less white and less Christian. Church attendance dwindled as mainstream Protestantism lost prominence to the evangelical movement and the thunderous cathedrals of Daytona and Talladega.
Also by numbers, deaths exceeded births in 25 states in 2020, and life expectancy in the United States has declined. Meanwhile, so-called religious “nones” are becoming increasingly prominent, especially among young people. Part of that was the pandemic, sure, but it’s also the path the nation is heading down as it ages.
At the same time, college-educated America has grown less enamored with the GOP as it transitions from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Trump. Taken together, this unstable mix of race, religion and class creates a toxic politics, mired in resentment for real and imagined lost worlds.
Of course, the convulsive tectonics was not limited to the United States. In Britain, voters opted for Brexit and withdrawal from the European Union. On both sides of the Atlantic, those who have felt left behind by history have made their voices heard.
Yet growing diversity has not brought Democrats the political success they expected. The reflexive worship of the party on the twin altars of identity politics and political correctness has exacted a high, high price in votes and lives.
Police defunding demands voiced by Democratic firebrands Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib and progressive stalwarts such as Planned parenthood and Ben & Jerry’s did far more harm than they helped. The murder rate in the United States rose after Ferguson and again in 2020. And it was the inner cities that paid the price.
Against this backdrop, New York City’s latest ploy seems like a less lethal thought. Besides being legally questionable, it’s reminiscent of the rift between the Big Apple and the rest of the country (and, notably, prominent New York Democrats serving in Washington were conspicuously silent on the noncitizen vote), a a distinction that is not in the city’s best interest, especially since Republicans are likely to regain control of the House and Senate in less than a year.
Writing about the first American astronauts and the reception of the teleprinters they received in New York in the early 1960s, the late Tom Wolfe observed in his book The good thing, who looked at America’s first space program: “Like most of the military… [the astronauts] didn’t really consider New York to be part of the United States. It was like a free port, a city without a state, an international protectorate, Danzig in the Polish corridor.
Earlier this month, Republican and conservative stalwarts in New York filed a lawsuit to block the city’s new non-citizen voting law on the grounds that it violated the rights of the state’s citizens. However, in the aftermath of the uprising, four of the Republican members of Congress from New York State voted against certification of the results of the presidential election, even as they took their own seats.
Apparently, the value given to the vote of each citizen is not identical. Some are more equal than others.