Just look at what’s already happened since the [Voting Rights Act] decision was announced–the GOP is launching voter-suppression drives in six of the nine freshly liberated states. All the states, of course, are down South. These drives might “work.” But they will attract an enormous amount of negative publicity, and they’ll probably induce massive backlashes and counter-movements. This effort will lead to even greater distrust of the GOP by people of color, and it will reinforce the captive Southern-ness of the party, making it even more Southern than it already is. And Republicans won’t stop, because they can’t stop. Race baiting is their crack pipe.
And here’s the worst part of this story. If the House Republicans kill immigration reform, and Republican parties across the South double down to keep blacks from voting, then they really will need to jack up the white vote–and especially the old white vote–in a huge way to be competitive in 2016 and beyond. Well, they’re not going to do that by mailing out Lawrence Welk CDs. They’re going to run heavily divisive and racialized campaigns, worse than we’ve ever seen out of Nixon or anyone. Their only hope of victory will be to make a prophet of Trende–that is, reduce the Democrats’ share of the white vote to something in the mid- to low-30 percent range. That probably can’t happen, but there’s only one way it might. Run the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable.
That’s the near-term future we’re staring at. We can take satisfaction in the fact that it’s bad for them, but unfortunately, it’s not so good for the country.