When you want to know why political hacks are doing something, don’t listen to the answer they give in public. The pols’ public answers are carefully cleansed, and the truth often shrinks or disintegrates in the spin cycle. Instead, listen to what they say in private. That’s where the truth comes out.
Take Voter ID. When you ask Minnesota Republicans why they are pushing a state constitutional amendment to require voters to produce photo IDs, they swear it is to limit voter impersonation. But when you learn that they can’t produce any evidence of a single case of voter impersonation in Minnesota, you start to wonder if they have an unstated motive that is less pure. And when you listen to what the revered “father of the conservative movement,” Paul Weyrich, said to conservative leaders in private, the truth emerges:
In a democracy, I can’t think of any words more dangerous than Weyrich’s words:
How many of our Christians have what I call the “goo goo syndrome?” Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our (Christian conservative) leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the motive to the photo ID crime. The reason why Minnesota Republicans want to send voters without photo IDs – disproportionately Minnesota’s oldest, youngest and most pigmented voters, according to the Minnesota League of Women Voters – on a bureaucratic wild goose chase can be found in the words of the father of the modern conservative movement. They “don’t want everybody to vote.”
Yes, you say, but that was a long time ago. Conservative patriots can’t possibly still be so cynical that they would attack the very bedrock of our proud American democracy for crass self-serving reasons. But fast forward to 2012, and listen to what they say to each other when they think no one else is listening. This is from Pennsylvania state Representative Mike Turzai:
Again, we learn that the motive is not preventing the non-existent problem of voter impersonation. The motive is voter suppression of non-conservatives.
So to really learn why Republicans are so in love with this idea of photo IDs for voters, forget what they say in public. Instead, be mindful of the words of legendary country singer Charlie Rich,
“And when we get behind closed doors,
Then she lets her hair hang down.”