Nov
12

A gated democracy

By

Graffiti in the Tenderloin, San Francisco. Image by Almonroth via Wikimedia Commons

The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years the New York Times declares this morning, condemning continued efforts to suppress turnout among poor, minority and younger voters. They don’t even bother to add qualifiers anymore when calling out Republicans for voter suppression.

Sean McElwee at Huffington Post runs down some preliminary analysis of new voting restrictions. Photo ID laws, eliminating same-day registration, and felon disenfranchisement were contributing factors in the low turnout.

More than 600,000 in Texas could not vote this year because they lacked the newly required documents. How many tried and were turned away? The nonpartisan Election Protection Voter help line received over 2,000 calls in Texas, according to the Brennan Center’s director of its Democracy Program, Wendy Weiser. A federal judge had determined that the Texas law was purposely designed to suppress minority votes.

As Ari Berman wrote last week, “Since Republican legislatures across the country implemented new voting restrictions after 2010 and the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, it’s become easier to buy an election and harder to vote in one.”

Speaking of both, AOL is leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), joining other tech firms in the latest exodus [Emphasis mine]:

In the space of two weeks in September, Google, Yahoo, and Yelp announced they had already left or were in the process of leaving ALEC, an exodus that began when Google Chairman Eric Schmidt charged that the group was “just literally lying” about climate change. Facebook also said it was “not likely” to renew its membership with ALEC next year.

Shortly after, Occidental Petroleum, the fourth-largest oil and natural-gas company in the U.S., also said it would separate from ALEC.

And just last week, SAP, a German-based software company with regional offices in the U.S., announced it would “immediately disassociate itself from ALEC.” A company representative for SAP cited ALEC’s conservative stance on climate change as well as its historic positions on gun control and voter rights. Earlier in the year, Microsoft, too, said it would leave ALEC.

On Election Day here in western North Carolina, voters turned out Republican state Rep. Tim Moffitt, an ALEC board member. Statewide, however, another ALEC board member, state Rep. Thom Tills, R-Mecklenburg, got elected to the U.S. Senate. After Republicans gained control of the state legislature, Tillis, Moffitt, and other allies immediately set about implementing an ALEC agenda to voucherize schools, privatize public infrastructure and utilities, weaken cities (blue votes), and of course, to restrict voting.

Because oligarchs worldwide, including those in the world’s most unequal developed country, have never been comfortable sharing power with their lessers. Democracy will never be tolerable until they can make it a gated democracy.

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