Republicans are hoping that pictures like this one* will help them win this election.

GOP hoping that voter suppression will help them. It won’t be enough. And it has tarnished the Republican brand for years to come. hindering the efforts of low-income Democrats, Latinos, and African-Americans to cast their votes. Yet the efforts by Republican governors in battleground states have been so blatant and so baffoonish—in Florida, Colorado, Ohio, and elsewhere–that I believe this will have the opposite effect.

Everyone on all sides of the ideological divide understands what’s happening here. This strategy is deeply contrary to our nation’s core democratic values. It will have lingering after-effects.

Had Mitt Romney began the general election with some decent share of the Latino vote, he probably would be winning today. Instead, GOP tactics (along with harsh rhetoric regarding self-deportation and so many other matters) have alienated the fastest-growing constituency in America. Republican political professional watching the numbers in (say) Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado must be pulling their hair out as they grasp the full extent of this. And as David Weigel observes in Slate, voter suppression efforts may also have solved Democrats’ enthusiasm gap among key constituencies hurting in the current recession.

Sure, these shenanigans will suppress some Democratic votes. It won’t be enough. Republicans will still lose on Tuesday. They certainly deserve to. And the manner of their campaign will tarnish the Republican brand within many, many communities. You tend to remember when one party seeks political advantage by making your mom stand in line for six hours in the hope that she’ll decide it’s too much hassle to cast her vote.

I hope decent Republicans aim for a more honorable and inclusive strategy next time around.

*Tweeted by Ian Koski here. Yeah there are hundreds of others in Florida and Ohio today.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

26 thoughts on “Republicans are hoping that pictures like this one* will help them win this election.”

  1. Manny Machado is running? He’d be a lock in Maryland, but…

    (OK, it’s probably a pretty common name.)

      1. The common “error” by the right really galls me. I have yet to hear a single Democratic politician refer to someone in the GOP as a “Republic.”

        1. Democratic politicians don’t call them Republics. But I do, and the moment a GoOPer refers to a “Democrat” _________ (fill in the blank). When they take umbrage, I give a brief lesson in English syntax.

    1. This tendency is so insidious that I hear even Democrats referring to their party as the “Democrat party.”

      Credit Newt Gingrich’s infantile approach to politics (and life) for this: he convinced the Republic(an) party to systematically purge the word Democratic from their 1996 platform, in favor of Democrat.

      1. And, by the way, the demonic Republican smile is especially large when Democrats take umbrage to this false usage, as in these anecdotes. Frustratingly, it makes the Democrats seem whiny:

        1. On the February 26, 2009 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews, Republican Representative Darrell Issa referred to “a Democrat Congress”. The host, Chris Matthews, took exception, saying: “Well, I think the Democratic Party calls itself the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party. Do we have to do this every night? Why do people talk like this? Is this just fighting words to get the name on?”

        Issa denied that he intended to use “fighting words”. Matthews replied, “They call themselves the Democratic Party. Let’s just call people what they call themselves and stop the Mickey Mouse here—save that for the stump.”

        2. In March 2009, after Representative Jeb Hensarling (R–Texas) repeatedly used the phrase “Democrat Party” when questioning U.S. Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag, Representative Marcy Kaptur (D–Ohio) said: “I’d like to begin by saying to my colleague from Texas that there isn’t a single member on this side of the aisle that belongs to the “Democrat Party.” We belong to the Democratic Party. So the party you were referring to doesn’t even exist. And I would just appreciate the courtesy when you’re referring to our party, if you’re referring to the Democratic Party, to refer to it as such.”

        1. Makes Democrats sound whiny, because you’re being whiny. Go ahead, start calling the Republican party the “Republic” party, and see if anybody gives a damn.

          Sure, it’s meant as an insult of sorts. The implication being that the “Democratic” party isn’t particularly “democratic”. As insults go, it’s remarkably weak, compared to such gems as “Rethuglican”, or “Gilbertarian”, that get routinely flung around.

          But, of course, we’re talking about the party that went berserk because “Democrats” was panned across a screen in an ad, and if you stopped the ad at the right frame, all that was visible was “rats”. Democrats have brought synthetic outrage to an art form, and in doing so lost all sense of perspective.

          Get a life, IOW.

          1. Brett:
            When you can point me to an elected official or a general-election nominee using the words “Rethuglican” etcetera, you will have some actual reason to equate such with the adjectival use of “Democrat”.

          2. I’m not equating “Rethuglican” with “Democrat”; The conservative counterpart to “Rethuglican” would be “Demonrat”, I believe. Doesn’t get used much, from what I can see, it’s regarded as too childish. Unlike, say, “libertard”.

            My point is that if your skin were any thinner you’d be bleeding out of every pore.

  2. BTW, is there any surer indicator of boorishness than using “Democrat” as an adjective, a la Joe McCarthy?

    Why does anyone think that non-standard English is persuasive? Or at least anyone other than Peter Finley Dunne?

    1. is there any surer indicator of boorishness than using “Democrat” as an adjective, a la Joe McCarthy? No. Especially since it aims to be cute.

  3. I hope decent Republicans aim for a more honorable and inclusive strategy next time around.

    Which I suppose is the decent and closeted way of saying: If Chris Christie wants to be president some day, he’d better change his party affiliation.
    Because this should be obvious: the Republicans are not coming back to honorable and inclusive anytime soon…

    1. Christie can’t be President. The Republicans like his boorishness, but he’s too friendly to gays and minorities for key parts of their base, and they won’t soon forgive his embrace of Obama. The Democrats have better options, people who never declared war on organized labor or pointlessly blocked a funded transit tunnel nor funneled government money to a failing casino. Also, he’s overweight.

      But he did himself good this last week in his re-election effort, and a cabinet slot from either party is very conceivable.

    1. I think the point is that the lines are really long in non-white neighborhoods, which would make it more difficult for many people to vote.

  4. Lower income people have lots of experience standing in lines. That won’t stop ’em.

    1. Stay classy, priscianusjr!

      Back in the real world, lower income people often are elderly or have health problems that mean they can’t stand in line for many hours, especially in inclement weather. Lower income workers mostly can’t get paid time off to vote, and may not be able to keep their job if they take all day trying to vote.

      I don’t know what the corret solution to our voting problem is – vote by mail makes me worried about theft, fraud, and supervised voting – but in the absence of vote-by-mail, I’m a strong believer in extended early voting, with sufficient resources.

    1. Two whackjobs hanging out at an urban polling station for a while almost 1500 days ago sure trumps systemic efforts to use state power and nationwide-coordinated teams of “poll watchers” to slow, impede, and prevent voting from happening this very week! They are the worst and most important thing that ever happened, even though – so far as I am aware – no one has ever actually claimed to have been intimidated by them. I mean, have you ever watched the infamous video of them? That is the worst you can come up with? That one of them is slightly lippy (but neither aggressive nor profane) while holding a nightstick by the middle, not even brandishing it?

      I’m not supporting them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone applaud them, though I vaguely recall some people claiming they had a right to make asses of themselves in public in this way so long as they didn’t actually menace anyone. I can imagine people finding them intimidating, and I’d be interested in learning about the local laws involving displays too close to a polling station. But this is pretty weak stuff, when shenanigans by important elected officials who aren’t two random nutballs in leather jackets are using state power to far greater effect.

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