Whenever a Republican says something horrendous, the subsequent apology usually involves a confession that saying the horrendous something was a "mistake" or "an error." Of course it is. The mistake was saying out loud what far too many Republicans believe to be true, but rarely say in public due to the potential backlash: abortion in cases of "legitimate rape" should be illegal because a woman's body naturally rejects the resulting pregnancy; Native American tribal leaders are "dysfunctional"; depicting President Obama as a monkey in a viral email is an hilarious meme and so forth. Cue half-hearted, guiltless apologies.
One of my favorite examples is when Saline, Kansas County Commissioner Jim Gile (R) used the term "nigger-rigging" in a public meeting. His morbidly hilarious apology didn't involve taking responsibility for his racism but, instead, he added, "I have built Habitat homes for colored people." Oh, well, my goodness, in that case, glad to hear he's deigned to help the coloreds. Good guy.
The statements are blurted in public without any realization that YouTube, blogs and The Series of Tubes exist, and the apologies are rarely contrite.
Yesterday, Dallas Tea Party activist Ken Emanuelson said, "I’m going to be real honest with you. The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats."
This is absolutely a factual statement. The Republicans don't want African Americans to vote because they mostly vote for Democrats. Sure, it exposes the dark underbelly of the Republican Southern Strategy, and Emanuelson simply derped it out loud and in public when he probably should've kept it to himself. But that doesn't make it any less true. His apology? It was a "mistake." Of course. He shouldn't have said it out loud. But then, within his apology, he literally restated the exact same thing for which he was apologizing:
"What I meant, and should have said, is that it is not, in my personal opinion, in the interests of the Republican Party to spend its own time and energy working to generally increase the number of Democratic voters at the polls, and at this point in time, nine of every ten African American voters cast their votes for the Democratic Party."
No, Republicans definitely don't want to increase the number of African American voters -- that's for sure. What Emanuelson didn't mention was specifically how the Republican Party is obsessively pursuing this goal.
To carry forward the theme of yesterday's column, while the Republicans are crying "Scandal!! IEEEEE!!!" over the IRS's alleged politically-motivated scrutiny of tea party groups, Republican Party officials across the country are actively disenfranchising minority voters, the vast majority of whom vote for Democrats. So, no, the Republicans don't want to increase African American voters -- they, in fact, want to reduce African American voters, and they're doing it.
Consequently dozens of Republican governors and state legislatures have passed or attempted to pass Voter ID laws, which make it difficult for low income, more-often-than-not minority voters from voting. 15 states, controlled by Republicans, passed laws making it more difficult to vote. Those states contol 203 electoral votes, and, shocker, many of those states just happen to be swing states. 180 bills were introduced beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2012. Millions of voters nationwide were prevented from voting as a result of these draconian Jim Crow laws. As for the existence of actual voter fraud as an excuse, the Republican Secretary of State for Ohio, Jon Husted, discovered 20 cases of possible voter fraud. 20 cases -- out of 5.6 million ballots cast in the 2012 election. Millions disenfranchised in order to weed out a handful of illegal voters. Maybe -- there haven't been any convictions to date.
Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers and election officials are purging voter rolls to potentially weed out undocumented workers and convicted felons, but these dragnets usually sweep up innocent bystanders with similar names. Hmm. What could possibly go wrong? Again, the people who are most often unknowingly stripped of their right to vote are Democrats.
And if the Voter ID laws and voter purges don't manage to do the trick, Republican election officials have been targeting precincts with large minority populations, restricting voting the hours there, rolling back early voting opportunities and cutting the number of voting booths in relation to the number of the likely voters there. The result? Prohibitively long lines -- lines that are much longer than predominantly white, suburban polling places.
On top of everything else, Republican Party officials in blue-leaning/purple swing states have been endeavoring to distribute electoral votes by district rather than the traditional winner-take-all system. This way, Republican presidential candidates have a better shot at grabbing more electoral votes from those states where they came up empty in the last couple of elections.
And the "Obama IRS's" targeting tea party groups is a scandal-worthy offense? Unbelievable. The Republicans are trying to steal elections by resurrecting poll taxes and the like -- laws that we assumed were obliterated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Apparently not. If indeed the IRS and the Obama administration are guilty of using political power to target and obstruct Republican activists, the Republicans are guilty of far worse. The IRS, whatever its sins might be, isn't preventing Republicans from voting and it's certainly not silencing or suppressing the rights of minorities. If the IRS situation is an impeachable offense, then, by rights, the Federal Elections Commission and the Justice Department should absolutely investigate the Republican Party officials responsible for the mass disenfranchisement. Subsequently, the election process in those states should be federalized. Fair is fair.
By the way, there's one exception to the Republican apology process. The Republican state representative from Pennsylvania, Mike Turzai, who admitted last year that the state's Voter ID law was deliberately passed ("Done!") in order to disenfranchise Democrats and win the state for Mitt Romney never apologized. Like the others, he was telling the truth so why apologize? However, he owes an apology to the voters who were unable to exercise their most basic right in a representative democracy -- the people who he and his colleagues targeted for political retribution and disenfranchisement.
In a final bit of irony, Ken Emanuelson's tea party group, the Dallas Tea Party? It's one of the groups whose 501(c)4 application is apparently being scrutinized by the IRS.