Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Democrats never run out of excuses for losing
On Your Right
Here it comes again. In a recent meeting, the Florida Democratic party’s “voter protection director” Brandon Peters told his audience of activists to prepare for another statewide recount in 2020. This from the state that gave us hanging chads and the Broward County black hole.
Peters’ concern is not with equipment, although perhaps it should be. According to Florida Today, Broward County finished its machine recount in the nick of time but took 17 minutes to upload the results, putting it past deadline and leading the state to reject the numbers. Palm Beach County’s tabulating machines broke down during its recount. Electricity failed in Hillsborough County during a machine recount, resulting in an 846-vote deficit. And so on. Sometimes, updates are necessary.
Nor did he seem very concerned about Russians apparently gaining access to the three Florida counties’ election infrastructure, Politico notes, through the most basic of hacks.
No, Peters was most concerned that a recent, state-required maintenance purge of all inactive voters by the Collier County supervisor of elections ended up with proportionally more registered Democratic voters being removed from the rolls than Republicans.
“We are very concerned about the disproportionate impact of the voter purge statutes upon the Democratic voter base,” Peters opined, adding that he is reviewing the situation with party attorneys.
He seems selective about fact. According to the Collier County supervisor of elections, 6,318 Republicans, 5,457 Democrats and 7,406 nonaffiliated voters had been removed. There being 103,285 Republicans registered in Collier County and 46,108 Democrats, Peters says in the Florida Phoenix that this indicates bad intent since close to 10% of the entire Democratic voting base has been taken off the rolls but only 5% of Republicans. That there may be other factors at play — relocation, preoccupation, different levels of civic engagement, death — wasn’t considered. Instead, the immediate conclusion is that Democrats are suffering disenfranchisement rather than low numbers to begin with.
It takes work to be dropped from the rolls in Florida. Inactive voters remain in the system and still can appear and vote. Only if they take no action and miss two federal general elections are they winnowed. But “disenfranchisement” is a fine excuse for any looming loss at the polls.
So this is the tactic upon which the Democrat party will rely: If one loses, blame the system. It debuted in the 2000 Bush-Gore contest and flourished thereafter, coming into its own with the 2018 election of a Republican senator and governor in Florida, and the defeat of a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, a defeat from which neither the Democratic party nor Stacey Abrams entirely has recovered.
Since her defeat in 2018, Abrams has continued to blame “voter suppression” for her loss. She has been echoed by Democratic party officials and presidential candidates like Kamela Harris, who argues that the Georgia election was “stolen” by voter suppression.
That makes good theater and is useful for stirring up the uninformed, but it’s bunk. A recent study by the Heritage Foundation indicates it’s almost as difficult to be removed from the voter rolls in Georgia as it is in Florida, and Georgia’s methodology for removing inactive voters fully complies with the National Voter Registration Act. Further, in 2018, more minority Georgians voted than in 2014; they just didn’t vote for Abrams. Even ABC News notes 39% of Georgian voters found her “too liberal,” a difficult obstacle there.
But never mind all that. Like Peters’ protestations in Florida, Abrams’ complaints will provide a firm foundation for rejection of negative outcomes in 2020. Like the ongoing fairy story about President Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential race, protestations about contests being “unfair” or “stolen” will doubtless proliferate in 2020, spread by a party that has not been able to stomach defeat since 2000. And which, since that time, has engaged in every exaggeration, embellishment, prevarication, misdirection and outright abuse of process to thwart the electoral will when things don’t go its way. This behavior, long visible at the national level, has now sunk to state contests. It soon will permeate politics everywhere — if we allow it.
But there is no good reason we should. Electoral defeat sends a clear message to those non-self-absorbed enough to hear it: People aren’t buying what you’re selling. And here’s another wisdom that should be reemphasized, now more than ever: Nobody likes a poor looser.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He currently lives in Virginia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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