None of the declared Republican presidential candidates could be considered even remotely-friendly to voting rights and all would likely rejoice in further suppression of demographic groups who tend to cast their ballots for Democrats.
But if you had to pick the three most dangerous advocates of voter suppression among the GOP wannabe field, you would likely pick Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush. These three, more than any of the others have demonstrated an eagerness to manipulate, eliminate or even violate voting rights laws.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee sets the standard for lowbrow voter suppression advocacy among current GOP presidential candidates. As Mollie Reilly explained in her HuffPo article “Ohio Issue 2: Mike Huckabee Urges Voter Suppression Against Opponents Of Anti-Union Measure“:
As reported by MasonBuzz, the 2008 presidential candidate spoke to a crowd of about 350 Issue 2 supporters at a pancake breakfast and rally in Mason, Ohio on Friday. Huckabee expressed his support for the referendum, and outlined what supporters could do to ensure the measure’s passage in next month’s general election.
“Make a list,” said Huckabee, referring to supporters’ family and friends. “Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”
The crowd laughed at Huckabee’s remarks. In 2009, he made a similar joke in Virginia, saying, “Let the air our of their tires … keep ’em home. Do the Lord’s work.”
When it comes to higher-brow voter suppression, Sen. Ted Cruz is the GOP’s top advocate. Cruz, like Chief Justice Roberts, clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who had a particularly sordid history as an advocate of voter suppression. In 1999, Cruz been working as a domestic-policy adviser on the George W. Bush Presidential campaign. In the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin explains some of Cruz’s role in opposition to voting rights of pro-Democratic demographic groups.
When the result of the 2000 campaign devolved into a legal struggle over the vote in Florida, Cruz was well situated to play an important role. By the Thursday after Election Day, he was in Tallahassee. “Through an odd bit of serendipity, it happened that I was the only practicing lawyer, and, in particular, constitutional litigator, who had been on the full-time campaign team,” Cruz told me. “One of the realities of the recount and life is that lawyers and political folks don’t really speak the same language. By the accident of being in that place I found myself, there was sort of a small leadership team that consisted of Jim Baker and Josh Bolten and Ted Olson and George Terwilliger and Ben Ginsberg and me. And I’m twenty-nine years old, this kid, and all of these other folks are Cabinet members and masters of the universe.” Ginsberg, the national counsel to the Bush campaign, and his associates set up seven teams of lawyers to address the sprawling controversies generated by the recount, and Cruz was the only lawyer who served on all seven. His job was to encourage communication and assure consistent positions.
“I’ve been amused at some of the subsequent descriptions of Bush versus Gore, because they sort of described us as this fine-oiled machine with a careful strategy,” Cruz said. “It was one tiny notch slightly below utter chaos.”
Cruz’s initial assignment was to assemble a legal team. His first call was to his former mentor Carvin, who wound up representing Bush before the Florida Supreme Court. Cruz’s second call was to a Washington lawyer named John Roberts. “John had been a friend and a Rehnquist clerk–I’ve known John a long time,” Cruz said. “Everyone we called, without exception, dropped everything and came down…”
Toobin recounts Cruz’s role as a successful advocate in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and notes:
In another case, a major challenge to Texas’s 2003 electoral redistricting on the ground that it discriminated against minorities, the number of plaintiffs before the Court was so large that Cruz was allowed to file a hundred-and-twenty-three-page brief in response, well above the usual page limit. He won that case as well.
Should any Democrats find themselves feeling indifferent about the prospect of Jeb Bush getting the GOP 2016 nomination, take a stroll down memory lane with Greg Palast and feel the burn once again:
WI Governor Scott Walker could also be added to the short list of the GOP candidates who are most invested in voter suppression, given his history and relationship to the Koch brothers and their sponsorship of ALEC’s voter suppression template legislation. And don’t be shocked if two of these candidates end up on the GOP ticket. If Bush or Walker wins the nomination, Huckabee could be on their veep short lists, if they need an attack-dog/bomb-thrower. Cruz or Huck might end up as any other GOP nominee’s running mate. It’s hard to imagine Bush settling for a second spot, but there are quite a few plausible Republican ticket scenarios that have one of these four candidates on the 2016 GOP ticket.
Even more voter suppression will be the order of the day if the GOP wins the white house and control of the Senate, especially with Justice Roberts at the helm of the U.S. Supreme Court. A rigged electoral system designed to disenfranchise millions more voters and permanently disadvantage Democrats will then become a top priority of the federal government.
It’s a nightmare scenario, not just for Democrats, but also the integrity of Democracy itself. That’s why Democrats must support the party’s 2016 nominee with unprecedented unity, energy and resources.