This column by ACRU Policy Board Member and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams was published November 6, 2014 on PJ Media.
If you were perplexed by President Obama’s post-election comment that he heard the voices “of the two-thirds who didn’t vote,” you can be forgiven. Normally, American presidents don’t see the electorate through the lens of those who do not participate. But Obama’s comments reveal a view toward election process rules that is shared by some of the more extreme groups hostile to our democratic republican system of constitutional government.
Let’s decode his comments.
It is a favorite fable among far-left groups like the Advancement Project and Demos that more voters is always good and fewer voters is always bad. They firmly believe that the path to a progressive policy wonderland is to get everyone with a heartbeat to vote. This is part of an even older fable that the “system” robs the underclass of power through laws, rules, racist constructs and oppressive societal structures — like having to make the effort to register to vote, for example.
Obama, and his fellow travelers in the election-process world, firmly believe that if only, if only all “barriers” to the ballot were removed, then that progressive-policy wonderland would finally be realized. Then we’d enjoy the American version of a workers’ paradise, 8.0.
It’s the voices of the two-thirds who didn’t vote that Obama pays more attention to today than the rest of the country who did. When he made his comment, he wasn’t being flip, he was being transparent for a change.
That’s precisely why “voting rights” groups fight to implement election-process changes like same-day registration, vote by mail, felon voting rights and extended early voting. It is one reason they fight voter ID laws, because as one Justice Department lawyer told me, their voters “are more disorganized and likely to forget their ID.”
None of this is any grand secret. If you read the hundred thousand dollar testimony of Charles Stewart who testified against North Carolina election-integrity laws, you’d see this attitude on full display and at great taxpayer expense. Experts opposing those laws testified about how blacks have to take the bus and are less sophisticated such that it is harder for them to vote.
These are the sorts of societal structures and constructs that the left believe prevents them from winning every election. It’s why President Obama thinks he hears from the “2/3 of voters who didn’t vote.”
If you still don’t quite understand the two-thirds comments, ponder this. Progressives want the electoral system to be revolutionized. They are pushing changes like universal registration — which would automatically register anyone to vote who is on a government list — and “approval voting.” They prefer single member districts, or better yet, cumulative or limited voting schemes. Such schemes help ensure the more polarizing radicals are elected, never having to appeal to a broad cross section of voters.
They want to fundamentally transform how our elections are run so they can get power.
This isn’t to say some should be ineligible to vote. But a great drummer once wrote that “if you chose not to decide you still have made a choice.” Non-participation in elections may owe more to not caring than an oppressive bourgeois conspiracy. But the left has never been comfortable with free will.
In the end, they’d probably want people to be able to vote sitting at home using their television remote controls over the course of two months.
What’s wrong with that? — I can hear them saying now.
What’s wrong with that is that our Founders knew that straight democracy leads to tyranny. That’s why our Constitution created a democratic republic. Few of the “voting rights” advocates seem to have learned that lesson in the schools they attended. Perhaps the lesson was never taught. Or perhaps something appeals to them about that outcome.
So when President Obama breaks the long American tradition of listening to voters, and instead listens to those who didn’t vote, it is no accident.