When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate my immediate thought was that his campaign, running even with Barack Obama’s at the time, was in trouble. I didn’t know, as his people did, that the economy would tank before the election. The choice was a Hail Mary pass in hope of winning votes of dirty old men and disgruntled Hillary supporters.
I felt the same about the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate. On the surface it makes no sense. It does figure to energize the base, the Democratic base. The Ryan Budget, which Romney has yet to disavow, is layered with Marie Antoinette’s fingerprints, the most controversial being the end to “Medicare as we know it.” $6,000 per year for life for medical expenses, even adjusted for inflation, is a frightening prospect.
But like McCain’s people, Romney’s advisors may know something that we don’t, in this case fortuitous for them, specifically the potential effect of new voter suppression laws. Our system as of 2004 was less than perfect in this respect. Voters in several of Ohio’s biggest cities had to wait until 4:00 AM, many leaving without voting. Had John Kerry won that state, which he lost narrowly, he would have been president. In a true democracy there would be one voting booth for every given number of registered voters.
Republican state legislatures and governors elected in 2010 have passed laws which, if not judicially rescinded between now and the election, will dwarf this inequity. Voter ID laws to prevent non-existent voting fraud have been passed in several major swing states. A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday ruled this legal there.
Laws shortening the early voting time have been passed in Ohio, for all but the military and veterans. When Democrats complained that this blatantly partisan law should be discarded for everyone, they were accused of showing disrespect for the military. This landmark of chutzpah was exceeded when the legislature voted to wave the law in districts that tended to vote Republican. This last was abandoned, probably because it was so blatantly Third World that it would have cost the Republicans votes nationally once it became widely known.
But it shows the lengths to which Republicans will go if permitted and raises the question of what they might do at the last minute when most votes are cast. By choosing Paul Ryan they seem to be saying that this is all out war and that they intend to take no prisoners. I deeply hope that my suspicions are not justified because Third World tactics elicit Third World responses. Whatever our faults as a nation now, we would not be left with America as we’ve known it.