Mr. Cope’s Cave: Did Voters Have to Show an ID in Afghanistan?


I’m not done talking about voter suppression. Or as the GOP calls it, “our hope for the future.”

There are a lot of rotten, evil things coming out of America’s right wing these days:

• A complete, take-no-prisoners war on women, their reproductive rights, their financial security, their independence.

• A total abandonment of sense and sanity when it comes to where a goddamn gun belongs and where the hell it doesn’t belong.

• A last-ditch, all-out assault on gays, even if it means aligning themselves with savages in places like Uganda and Russia.

• Their decision to turn this entire country over to fascist oligarchs who no longer even pretend the sheer gravity of their wealth and power isn’t sucking up whatever’s left in the hands of the middle and lower classes.

• The schemes to eviscerate any and all of those agencies that have kept our food relatively safe to eat, or workers relatively safe on the job, and our environment relatively life-friendly.

• And, of course, their attempts to dehumanize African-Americans at every level, from the dignity of a single mother trying to feed her kids, to the President of the United States.

Rotten, rotten, evil stuff.

But in my mind, the most rotten, most evil stuff they are doing are the steps they are taking to keep more and more Americans away from the polls, or outright denying them the vote if they do get there. In one way or other, all of the evils I’ve listed (and those I didn’t include) are linked umbilically to our right and access to voting. To choosing or rejecting the people who make the rules.

Voting is ultimately the only thing that separates what we have here in America and other democracies from the tyrannies, kingdoms, empires and plutocracies that have plagued mankind as long as there has been a mankind.

And now, at the behest of plutocrats and would-be kings who can no longer keep their influence secret, the Republican Party has become the instrument by which hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, are losing their connection to this process, this liberty.

Ten days ago, I honored one Republican official in Wisconsin—state Sen. Dale Schultz—for daring to speak the truth about this evil his party has been perpetrating on America. Today, I write to encourage any and everyone who is outraged by this insidious treason—and what else would you call an attack from within on the beating heart of our nation?—to defy it in every way possible.

Compared to some other states, Idaho’s voter suppression laws are relatively innocuous. The requirement that we must show identification to get a ballot, for instance, is not quite as offensive as the rarity of polling places in black precincts in Ohio and Florida, or the elimination of alternative voting hours in red states across the land.

Still, even Libertarian dullards and strict Constitutionalists should question, “Just who the hell are these select few to force me to show I am who I say I am? Is that not assuming guilt until I can prove my innocence?“

Yes it is. It is state-sanctioned distrust of its own citizens, and evidence that a need for it does not exist. For example, Wisconsin’s rate of voter fraud has been shown to be 0.0002 percent. Minnesota caught 14 out of more than 2.8 million votes cast in 2004—a rate of 0.0005 percent. (I seriously doubt such a study has even been done in Idaho.)

So what can we do to stop it?

At present, as long as our state, among others, is under the control of a political dogma that presumes anyone not in lockstep with that dogma is less an American than they are, not much. I show my opposition by not taking ID to the polls and filling out an affidavit instead—an option available to every Idahoan.

But I admit, it isn’t much. The problem has nothing to do with those civic-minded souls who work the elections and man the polling stations on Election Day. The problem is exclusively with the people making the rules, bending the rules and manipulating the rules, with the only purpose being to keep their asses in office. And the only effective solution would be to vote those asses out and replace them with people who have more respect for the vote and how central it is to our democracy.

Of course, that solution would hinge on whether you can hold onto the blessing of being able to vote, wouldn’t it?