Nor is the recent disbanding of Donald Trump's "voter fraud commission," which under Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had sought to enact some of these tactics on a national level, necessarily good news for Democrats. By handing over its responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security, Trump could be putting the machinery of the national security state behind these anti-democratic efforts.The Democracy Campaign
Democrats have not always been angels when it comes to gerrymandering and related tactics. Far from it. But far more often than not, especially in recent years, they've been the victims of a range of voter suppression tactics that includes gerrymandering, caging, and understaffing minority-neighborhood polling places. So why aren't they making an issue of it?
While many voters are still unaware of more esoteric techniques like caging, an anti-gerrymandering agenda would be very popular with voters, according to a bipartisan poll released last September by Democratic researcher Celinda Lake and Republican analyst Ashlee Rich Stephenson. Lake and Stephenson found that 80 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, and 65 percent of Republicans would support a Supreme Court move to end partisan gerrymandering.
Said Lake: "This issue has bipartisan consensus even among partisan voters."
To be clear, these issues aren't the only thing Democrats should be talking about. In that sense, Jeff Greenfield is right when he writes, "What ails the party -- at every level -- goes far beyond alleged Republican skullduggery. And a diagnosis of those ills requires an understanding of what the past decade has wrought."
The party's losses include, at its high point, more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures. Two-thirds of governorships and two-thirds of state legislatures are now in Republican hands, and it is those victories that allowed Republicans to engage in election-related "skullduggery."
To make matters even worse for Democrats, President Trump is hastily filling vacant judgeships all over the country. That will make it harder to pursue democratic claims in the courts.
Democrats can't passively count on the "Rising American Electorate" of unmarried women, people of color, and millennials to rescue them. They need to offer these voters a compelling agenda -- one that motivates them to overcome the many obstacles to voting that are being placed in their way.
Democrats need to come up with social and economic policies that are strong enough to bring their base to the polls. But these voters also deserve to know that their rights are being systematically suppressed -- and that they can do something about it by voting incumbents out of office.
The party that gave us those "blue finger" pictures is now sticking its finger in the eye of American democracy. So why are Democrats talking about this issue every day? Somebody should.
If party leaders won't campaign on this issue, insurgent candidates will have to do it for them. If party leaders won't organize voter registration efforts to counteract Republican suppression, movement activists will have to do it for them. And if party leaders don't understand what they need to do to win elections, maybe it's time to choose some new party leaders.