Thursday, April 11, 2013

Republican "Re-Branding"

     After the Republican's defeat for the executive in November, the party has been on a crusade to re-brand themselves and make their party more appealing and electable in the future.  The groups Republicans struggled with recently were mainly women and Latinos.  In past elections, they have also struggled with the country's younger population who typically vote more liberal.  The 2012 Presidential Election was a bit of a wake up call for Republicans, or so it seems.
     The grand solution top Republican minds arrived at is not to change their thinking or policies to reflect a changing population, but rather to disenfranchise voters who may oppose them in future elections.  One of the ways they plan to do this is through new election regulations.  In the North Carolina state legislature, there is currently a bill aimed at suppressing the votes of college students.  College students are allowed to vote absentee or use their college as their address during election cycles since they are not home.  However, this new piece of legislation is going to require these students of higher education institutions to use their home residence as their address when registering to vote in elections. This will not allow them to vote away from home essentially forcing them to travel to their home districts to cast ballots.  For students who do not register at their home addresses and cast ballots, their families will incur a tax penalty eliminating the $2,500 child deduction tax for their parents.  This is ironic given the Republicans oppose any new taxes of any rate (especially on the top percent of earners).  The legislation is also aimed at repealing same day registration and limit early voting by 10 days.  
     This type of voter disenfranchisement is what Americans have expected from Republicans in the past.  The only difference now is they are hiding behind this phony idea of "re-branding."  Since the majority of college aged students voted for liberal candidates in past elections, the hope of the republican party in North Carolina is to eliminate their most fundamental democratic right of voting.  In 2010, when the country saw this emergence and surge of the Tea Party, their main goal was to "defend the constitution."  I can think of no worse way to defend the constitution than attempting to disenfranchise voters who are attending higher education institutions in the hopes of bettering their intellectual compass with the hopes of contributing to our economy when they receive degrees.  They are the future of the nation and Republicans are trying to suppress their right to vote.  
      Since Republicans failed to secure the presidency, the majority in the Senate, and lost some ground on their majority in the House, state legislatures have taken it upon themselves to rise to the occasion and save the day for their party in Washington and at home.  The way they hope to achieve this is through gerrymandering.  Now, despite the fact both parties are guilty of gerrymandering, the republican interest in this controversial rigging of the electorate has spiked.  The way gerrymandering rigs the system is by redrawing either state or congressional election districts in the states in order to maintain a partisan advantage.  Voters who typically vote against one's party are then syphoned into smaller districts which will not impact the popular vote needed for the electoral votes in a presidential election.  It is a way of "packing" a district with demographics who will vote for one's party.
     According to the NY Times the Republican State Leadership Committee outlined two major steps for a $30 million redistricting plan - overtake state legislatures and redraw the state and congressional districts.  With many of these new initiatives set up to disenfranchise voters, with the Republicans in control of both houses in state legislatures, it does not matter if the governor's office is held by a democrat because they will be able to override any veto to their pro-republican agenda.  
     In January, on NBC's "Meet the Press," former congressman and political commentator Joe Scarborough stated the Republicans owe their majority in the house to gerrymandering and redistricting.  While he was referring to the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, this is still a relevant problem today.  Within weeks after the 2012 Presidential Election, Virginia announced a bold new gerrymandering plan to overhaul their districts to maintain partisan advantages.  However, after much flack, they withdrew the anti-democratic proposal.
     When analyzing the 2012 election, many Republicans realized that while Mitt Romney did well in certain districts in certain states, he lost the popular vote in those states thus losing all the electoral votes in the "winner take all" system.  What some red states are proposing is not a "winner take all" system but rather receiving split electoral votes for certain states where the votes are split.  Given this method, Mitt Romney would have won several more electoral votes in states such as Michigan which were key to the President's victory.  Many do oppose the current electoral college system which was established by the founders of our country who did not trust the "common" man but this is not a sufficient answer either.  The only way to remedy proposals such as gerrymandering and split electoral votes is to abolish the electoral college and use the popular vote to determine elections.
     The GOP has also set their sights on abortion rights.  Many states are posing restrictions to abortion clinics in the hopes these clinics cannot meet their requirements.  The liberal outfit "Think Progress" reports the North Carolina state legislation has legislation proposed to make doctors at these abortion clinics get admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.  This measure is solely aimed at eliminating these clinics in their state.  In North Dakota, they are planning on banning abortions very early in pregnancy possibly even before the woman knows she is pregnant.  Another bill in the same state would force health care providers to screen individuals for the reasons they want to terminate pregnancies and even deny abortions based on the reasons given.  In Arkansas, their state legislature passed the strictest anti-abortion legislation in the nation after overriding the governor's veto.  The American Civil Liberties Union is planning on fighting both North Dakota and Arkansas's harsh regulations against a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.  
     Last week, Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry announced he would not be "held hostage" by the "fools errand" of the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act.  With the Supreme Court's ruling on the health care law, they determined the Medicaid expansion was not mandatory and if states opted out, the federal government cannot retract federal funding to those states.  By opting out of the expansion, this could drive up the costs of public and private insurances because under the Affordable Care Act, all individuals must be insured by 2014 and the expansion to Medicaid would insure millions more indigent individuals across the country.  Along with many Republicans, Perry believes the entitlement system is flawed because some physicians do not accept the insurance and does not want to contribute to this "fools errand" as he so elegantly puts it.  His comments have made him a hero among the conservative movement given the discontent the party has demonstrated toward Governors Rick Scott (R-FL) and Chris Christie (R-NJ) for adopting the expansion.  With the expansion, the federal government will fund almost the entire program for the first decade insuring many indigent citizens who did not previously have insurance.  Texas currently has the highest uninsured rate in the entire nation.   
     The republican strategy of "re-branding" was aimed at misleading American citizens into thinking they are trying to adapt to the times.  Another prime example is the gun debate in the Senate right now.  Republicans are behind the eight-ball in accordance with the general public.  This "re-branding" strategy is not re-branding at all, but simply an attempt to disenfranchise voters who oppose their views, strip the rights of citizens, and overtake the electorate once again with their views of "stuffy old men" as the RNC Chair Reince Pribus states.                       

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