“Wonder why the right words never come
You just get numb.” — Larry Muggerud
Wise people often say we can determine the quality of an individual based on what they do. That certainly means more than what they say. If you try to determine what is on Greg Abbott’s mind these days, it really isn’t all that difficult. In this case, his words and deeds line up perfectly.
All summer he has been talking about what a priority the voter suppression was. He threatened to arrest Democrats when they fled the state capital to block the legislation in the first extra session. He indicated that he would keep calling special sessions until it was passed. Well, that’s happened, so maybe he can move on to more unimportant stuff like controlling the pandemic, fixing our energy grid, and dealing with our crumbling infrastructure.
We’ve talked about bias before, so we need to be fair. They aren’t calling this the voter suppression bill. They are insisting they are fighting voter fraud. So, why do I feel comfortable calling it the voter suppression bill? Well, we should take a look at what the bill does.
It is true that the bill attacks mail in voting. This is the biggest area of fraud that they have indicated. Unfortunately, those indications don’t match the actual data on voter fraud. Moreover, the provisions put in place all address access and not fraud prevention. It limits who can vote by mail and where they can return their ballot. That limits access. It doesn’t safeguard the system.
However, if we stopped there we would be nowhere near the full reach of this bill. The bill also curtails early voting hours, eliminates drive by voting, and allows more authority to poll watchers. I’m still struggling to understand how eliminating paths to the vote eliminates fraud. Maybe there is an extra amount of fraud happening on Sunday. Well, this bill takes care of that problem.
Maybe there was a ton of fraud in the drive through voting process. Well, this bill takes care of that problem. The $10,000 fine and years in prison won’t deter me from committing voter fraud, but maybe the additional poll watchers can use their ability to get closer to the action to intimidate me into following the law. I’m sure that’s the intent and not something else.
This is simple folks. When you cut down on the hours the polls are open, restrict the paths I can take to the ballot, and make the experience a lot less comfortable , you are restricting access. Your aim is not to make it more legal. Your aim is to make sure fewer people vote. The fact that certain groups of people will be more affected than others is obviously a happy accident.
Abbott is actually well aligned with his stated goals here. He isn’t trying to hide anything. Essentially, he is warding off attacks on both sides of the spectrum. He keeps more of those pesky brown people from voting on the left and then wards off challenges on the right by shooting down mask mandates and vaccine mandates. Perhaps he can ask Napoleon what it’s like to fight a two front war.
The problem with eschewing public safety measures and energy regulation is that you can’t control who dies. Early data suggests he’s killing the wrong people. Some estimates say that anti-maxxers make up five times as many Republicans as they do Democrats. While that does seem high, there can be no doubt that red states are faring worse than blue states.
So, he certainly is blowing the dog whistle hard and no one is mistaking the effect on the base. The question is whether the base will be there to cast their ballot. When the base even booed their master at one of his latest rallies it also shows that playing to the base has its drawbacks. They always seem to need more red meat. In the absence of red meat they might feast on something else and you don’t want to be in the way when they do.