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Sat Jan 26, 2013, 09:04 AM

The GOP Plan to Steal Elections


The GOP Plan to Steal Elections
by Michael Tomasky Jan 26, 2013 7:45 AM EST
Republicans are proposing a radical rule change in swing states—one that would have handed Romney the election. Michael Tomasky on this jaw-dropping outrage.

I’m optimistic about the Republican Party. Does that surprise you? Well, let me qualify that. When I say I’m optimistic about the Republican Party, I am referring of course to the old joke in which the pessimist says, “Geez, things sure can’t get any worse,” and the optimist replies, “Oh, yes they can!” When the subject is today’s GOP and the conservative movement, things can always get worse. Having attempted virtually every dishonest and cynical trick in the book under existing rules, they have decided now that the problem is not their dishonesty or cynicism, but the existing rules, so the new task is to change them.


But this is just vote-rigging. Open cheating. It is astonishing, I mean absolutely jaw-dropping, that a major party chairman should openly endorse such an openly crooked scheme, as Reince Priebus has. It’s so Third World 1950s, like something Sukarno might have done, probably did do, in Indonesia to make sure the competing ethnic group didn’t win elections. He sure better be asked, the next time he goes on a Sunday show, how he purports to defend a plan that would have made someone president while receiving 5 million fewer votes than the other guy.


The D.C. Circuit Court panel decision Friday that Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional is another amazing instance of the right just changing rules it didn’t like. First, Republicans in the Senate set records blocking Obama appointees to various executive positions. Then Obama makes some recess appointments. Then they get three conservative judges, led by David Sentelle, Ken Starr’s favorite judge, to rule that “recess” has a very specific constitutional meaning, so that Obama can’t make the appointments the Republican Senate had been denying him from making in the first place.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones did an excellent job yesterday of detailing the potentially vast implications of this ruling, which could reach far beyond labor law (as if that weren’t enough). The Obama administration will appeal this to the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito usually have an expansive view of presidential power. But will they in a high-profile case when the president is named Obama? Scalia also once took an expansive view of the commerce clause, and we all know how that ended up when it came time to decide health care.

We could toss all this information onto the ever-growing “Oh, those crazy Republicans” slag heap, have a laugh, and let it go. But this is concerted and serious. Rules, laws, customs, and norms that we have all abided by for centuries (the Electoral College and the primacy of federal law) or decades (recess appointments) have simply been producing too many outcomes conservatives don’t like. Most people, and movements, would try to change themselves so that they could maybe win under the long-agreed-upon rules. But conservatives have a cleverer way. Just make new rules. You better believe things can get worse.

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