In Tampa: More than a Tropical Storm Named Isaac

As the tropics churn with potential storms, they cast an ominous backdrop for Tampa as it prepares for the Republican National Convention that starts next week.  It is also a stormy time for speechwriters drafting remarks for the lineup of speakers, especially the Hispanic or Latino “stars” of the party.  With only minimal original input from the speakers who will deliver them, the speeches theoretically are intended to provide answers for voters, and so it will be tough going against a stiff wind for speechwriters to compose something for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez and senatorial nominee Ted Cruz of Texas.

Aside from the strident attacks on immigrants that are only a charade for how Republicans feel about the changing demography of the nation, these “stars” will have to address a national HispanicLatino audience with a straight face.  Behind the curtain in the convention hall, GOP strategists have put in motion plans to suppress – actively, consciously suppress – the HispanicLatino vote.  These four individuals know they were elected in unique elections with unusual electoral characteristics and that they are part of an organization that seeks not to expand the progress HispanicLatinos make but to limit it – and aggressively so.

 

It seems counterintuitive for a party that says it wants – in fact knows that it needs – HispanicLatinos to vote Republican to work aggressively to limit their participation in the election – especially when Nevada, New Mexico and Florida have been made more Democratic by the growth of the HispanicLatino population and will continue to do so. And how embarrassing for Sandoval and Martinez to hawk their wares with Republican Gov. Jan Brewer sitting just below them heading up the Arizona delegation.  Arizona is another state in which the HispanicLatino population is inexorably changing – and changing the electoral map in the process.  These states – and Texas ultimately – are going the way of California, once reliably Republican but now dark blue.  But then everyone knows that – and that is the whole point, isn’t it?  The demographic writing on the wall is pushing Republicans to abandon constitutional reason in order to constrain the impact of HispanicLatinos voting as they do, which is almost 70 percent Democratic.

The answer Republicans have come up with to resolve their conundrum is transparent and will hurt them in the long term – assuming any advantage they might gain in the general election this year is not used to further clamp down on the natural increase of the HispanicLatino vote and make permanent their grab for power at the expense of the future.  So it is that each election gains exponential importance for HispanicLatinos as their population grows.  Assume a Romney Administration and you should assume an evermore right-wing Supreme Court and a feckless Department of Justice.  In other words, the worst, given that the Voting Rights Act probably will be eviscerated later this year.  Imagine if Republicans – now growing into a genuine threat to democratic governance and to the Constitution – gain control of the Senate.  Is the remaking of South Africa far behind?  Sure to come would be additional federal legislation like that enacted by legislatures in Republican-dominated states where facts mean nothing.

From The Washington Post on Aug 11: “A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day (which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws) was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.”

To Republicans callously masterminding a legal theft of the general election, the Constitution means less as each day passes.  Oh, that it meant more to Sandoval, Martínez , Rubio and Cruz beyond personal ambition or vacuous ideology.

The ancients used to gaze at the stars and try to divine storms forming on earth.  Looking towards the heavens from Tampa next week, they would observe something truly worrisome – even through the potential layers of dark clouds now building in the Caribbean.

Jesse Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman and writes at HispanicLatino.com.

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