Minnesota Majority: Too Fig To Fail

Fig leafs to hide that which you'd rather not be public.

There was an interesting item this week in Politics in Minnesota about the potential demise of a conservative interest group called Minnesota Majority.  In the most desperate fundraising appeal I’ve seen since the waning days of Tony Sutton at the Minnesota GOP, the power brokers at Minnesota Majority declared that if their conservative benefactors don’t deliver another $20,000 to their doorstep this week, they would be forced to cease operations.

Founded in 2007 by a fellow named Jeff Davis, Minnesota Majority was the lead organization behind the 2012 drive to build additional barriers to voting in Minnesota, a proposition that was wisely rejected by 54% of Minnesota voters.

Since Minnesota Majority proved to be in the minority, it apparently has fallen upon hard times.  Current Majority leader Dan McGrath spins it this way in a recent fundraising appeal:

“The 2012 election results seem to have brought about a dangerous malaise causing many people, including some past major donors, to disengage,” the appeal states. “As a result, we’ve been struggling to raise enough money to keep the lights on all year and we’re rapidly reaching a critical point, where we will have do decide if it’s viable to continue operating at all.”

If Minnesota Majority actually goes under, I’d love to go to their  “Going Out of Business Sale.”  I bet you could get some sweet deals on glamour shots of the Koch brothers, the billionaire masterminds of the voter suppression drive.  I’d also love to see how much they can get for that framed May 2011 Star Tribune poll showing 80% support for Minnesota Majority’s voter ID proposal.  (To me, the smashed glass only adds a sense of history to the artifact.)

I still am not convinced that Jeff “Not Jefferson” Davis and his merrymakers at Minnesota Majority are truly done with their voter suppression shenanigans.  After all, it seems to have served a very important purpose for a lot of conservative  donors intent on preventing voting among those least likely to have a photo ID — the old, the young, the poor, and the minorities.  Many of those Minnesota Majority donors would rather not be too public about these sordid anti-democratic efforts.

In short, the voting suppressor enthusiasts need something to cover up that which is embarrassing to show in public, a sort of 501(c)(3) fig leaf.  Even if Minnesota Majority goes away in its current form, it will return in a laundered form, so that there will be someone to do the things some conservative donors would rather not do too publicly.  The struggling voting suppressors at Minnesota Majority are, in the final analysis, too fig to fail.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured as a Best of the Blogs by Politics in Minnesota and in MinnPost.

Brodkorb Says Gay Marriage Opponents Are Being Used As Political Pawns. Photo ID Supporters Too?

Michael Brodkorb, former top political strategist for Minnesota Republicans, recently made it perfectly clear that the Republican-proposed gay marriage ban amendment was motivated by politics, not principles.

As WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler reported:

 In an interview with WCCO, Mr. Brodkorb Continue reading

Key To Photo ID Outcome: Continued Persuasion of Seniors, Minorities and Independents

When proponents of the photo ID constitutional amendment burst onto the scene, they identified themselves as “reformers.”  As a result, many reform-minded Minnesotans initially accepted their reform claim at face value.  In June, a poll found the proposal was backed by nearly six-out-of-ten (58%) voters.

But over the course of the summer and fall, Minnesotans began to scrutinize the “reformer” claim more closely.  Many discovered that the alleged “reformers” were trying to deceive them with what amounts to a really bad fake ID.

As the non-partisan League of Women Voters and many others have pointed out, the voting “reformers” are actually voting restricters, intentionally seeking to suppress the votes of people least likely to have photo IDs – seniors, minorities, poor people and college students.  This message is finally starting to get out.

Who is figuring it out the fastest? Non-white Minnesotans.   Though I earlier noted that 68% of non-white Minnesota voters supported the photo ID in an early June 2012 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey, that number has decreased dramatically to 55% in an October PPP survey.  Clearly minority voters, whose families have endured literacy tests and scores of other procedural barriers to keep them from voting, are beginning to smell another voter suppression rat.

Seniors are catching on too.  The support of Minnesotans older than 65 years old has decreased from 55% in June to 45% in October.  This is a key development, because Minnesota has a lot of seniors, and they are more reliable voters than many other groups.

Independent voters are also getting it, though a bit less slowly.  In June, 58% of self-identified Independents supported the photo ID amendment, and this month that number had decreased a bit to 52%.

The momentum with minorities (13-point swing), seniors (10-point swing) and Independents (six-point swing) over this four-month period is encouraging news for photo ID amendment opponents.  But it is still remarkable that the support for photo ID among these groups is  relatively high, in the 45-to-55% range.
Therefore, the battleground over the next three weeks includes Independent, senior and minority voters.  If the momentum among those voting blocks continues through the next month, the “reformers’’” fake ID scam could be fully exposed by Election Day.
– Loveland
Note:  This post was also featured in the “Best of the Blogs” portion of the Politics in Minnesota Morning Report.

What Republicans Say About Voter ID, Behind Closed Doors

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.”

The True ID of The Photo ID Proponents: Partisan Hacks

Minnesota Republicans are hell bent on solving the problem of voter impersonation.  This might be a worthy effort, if there was a big problem. However, the Minnesota League of Women Voters, the earnest non-partisan group dedicated to the integrity of our voting system, has concluded:

The only type of illegal voting that a voter photo-ID can prevent is voter impersonation. There is no evidence of voter impersonation in any Minnesota election. In two statewide recounts in 2008 and 2010, our election system was put under a microscope as lawyers from the two major parties looked for problems. They didn’t find any; they did find that Minnesota’s election system is remarkably sound and transparent.

In other words, the biggest problem with this solution is there is no problem that requires solving.  There is no roving gang of thugs engaging in voter impersonation en masse.

Of course, if there were  highly motivated roving gangs of impersonators, or even a lone serial impersonator, they would have no problem overcoming the voter ID proposal.  The Economist reminds us what all of us who have kids, or were kids, know: 

A study in 2009 of American university students found that 17% of freshmen and 32% of seniors owned a false ID.

So if there were a voter impersonation problem, which there isn’t, the photo ID requirement wouldn’t solve it.  Motivated impersonators could still find it easy to impersonate.

While the photo ID requirement doesn’t solve an existing problem, it does create a huge and dangerous one — voter suppression.

Americans are highly motivated to drive, and therefore willing to spend a few hours and dollars to get a drivers license with a photo on it.  But many Americans are not at all motivated to vote.   We know this because we have spent billions of dollars over the years enticing citizens to vote via TV ads, radio ads, mailings, phone calls,  and rides to the polls, and a shocking 90% to 50%  of the population, depending on the election, still does not vote.

With that kind of baseline apathy, it clearly doesn’t take much to get more people to sit out Election Day.  For many, the addition of a bureaucratic scavenger hunt to secure an official photo ID card will do the trick.

People who have photo IDs tend to assume that everyone has them, so the Republicans’ photo ID proposal would merely require voters to take what they already have out of their wallets or purses.  But according to the non-partisan Minnesota League of Women Voters:

Approximately 11% of the voting population does not carry a photo ID that meets these rigid requirements. The percentage is higher among certain groups: the elderly (18%), younger adults (18%), minorities (25% of African-Americans) and people who are low-income (15%).

Hey, wait a minute.  Old, young, minority and poor people?  Aren’t they all groups that tend to vote disproportionately against Republicans?  Could it be that the Republicans want to solve a different problem than the non-existent problem of voter impersonation, the problem of citizens who vote against Republicans?

– Loveland


Note:  This post was also featured as a “best of the blogs” in Politics in Minnesota’s Morning Report.