Gary is taking a break from blogging. Today’s pinch-hitter is Thomas Mills.
Pat McCrory and some of his Republican allies are now saying they are ready to compromise on voter ID. Compromise with whom? With super-majorities in the state house and senate, Republicans can pass whatever bill they want without any Democratic support. For their part, Democrats should stand solidly against any bill that limits access to the ballot box, no matter how watered down, and let the Republicans battle over the direction of their party.
Voter ID is a trumped up issue addressing the nonexistent problem of voter fraud. In reality, the whole voter ID ploy is a pander to the GOP’s xenophobic base and a voter suppression tactic aimed at low-income and minority voters. Now, after a national defeat illustrated the evolving demographic nature of the electorate, moderate Republicans are trying move away from the more racist and homophobic tendencies that they’ve tolerated in their right flank.
In North Carolina, McCrory and his more mainstream buddies understand the state and its voters are getting browner. Hispanics made up less than 1% of the population in the 1990 census but made up about 8% in the 2010. African-Americans, who made up 18% or so of the electorate during that time period, made up more than 22% of the voters in 2008 and 2012. If Republicans in North Carolina hope to remain a competitive party in the next ten to fifteen years, they need to appeal to these segments of the population, not alienate them.
For their part Democrats have nothing to gain from compromising on Voter ID. Instead, they need to define the issue for what it is—a tactic to disenfranchise voters the GOP doesn’t like. Democrats need to make Republicans own this issue they’ve invented. Over the next decade, our Hispanic population will begin voting in large numbers. They need to remember that Republicans tried to keep them out of the ballot box. Democrats should not share the blame.
Thomas Mills is Democratic political consultant based in Carrboro, NC.