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Voter cutback


"As long as there is one non-white, non-rich, non-Republican voting, I swear I could just spit." — From "The Wit and Wisdom of Bryan King."

Representative King, R-Berryville, sponsored a voter-ID bill in the legislature last year, intending to assure that people who might vote Democratic wouldn't get the opportunity to do so. The bill would have required all voters to obtain (usually a euphemism for "buy") some sort of government document, from some sort of shadowy government bureaucrat, and show it to harried election officials before being allowed to vote. The 2011 bill died in the Senate, but King says he'll try again next year. Running in a yellow-dog Republican district, he's confident of election.

Voter impersonation is mostly imaginary, as a legislative colleague noted on hearing of King's plans. "It seems like a solution chasing a problem that doesn't exist," Rep. Uvalde Lindsey, D-Fayetteville, said. King cheerfully admitted that he couldn't cite an actual case either, but he has heard stories, and like Ronald Reagan, King prefers anecdotes to facts. If you can't trust your cousin's brother-in-law, who can you trust?

The true purpose of King's bill, and similar bills that Republicans are sponsoring across the country, is not to prevent voter fraud but to make it harder for the elderly, the poor, blacks and Latinos to participate in elections. Modern Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans, have never bought into the democratic aspect of American government. It is better, they believe, to let a privileged few decide things for everyone. A Koch brother is a terrible thing to waste. If the Tea Partyers had been around in 1776, our national symbol would be not the eagle but the sheep. Their rallying cry would have been "Give me orders or give me death."

Kings, whether George III or Bryan, are at risk when the common people have  a voice in their governance. "Of the people, by the people, for the people" is not in Bryan King's platform, or Mitt Romney's either. For the Republicans, the slide downhill has been long and steep since Lincoln.


A cherished theory of the pundit class is that Bill Clinton was thoroughly discredited while serving as president, that he fled Washington just ahead of a lynch mob, and that no active office-seeker would take up with him. Yet here is former President Clinton giving the nominating speech for President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, and campaigning heavily for Obama in states deemed crucial to Obama's re-election. In reality, Clinton remained highly popular with the people — though not the Washington media — throughout his two terms, and he left the presidency with a favorable rating that was unprecedented. Around the world, he is very nearly the best-known and best-liked American. At home, if he could run for president again, he'd beat either of this year's candidates. If he could have run in 2000, he would have beaten George Bush, and wouldn't the world be a much better place?

Speaking of disgraced former presidents, did anyone hear Bush speaking at the Republican Convention? Has anyone seen him riding the campaign trail for Romney and Ryan? If it weren't for the pundits, he'd have no friends at all.

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