Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Divisive, Reckless Rhetoric on Voting Rights

(Thomas Shea/Getty)

The late Saul Alinsky, the father of the community-organizing model that inspired both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, would be delighted. The man who championed moral relativism in tearing down the establishment (“In war, the end justifies almost any means”) is calling the tune of the Democratic party on voting issues.

Last March, President Obama rhapsodized about what would happen under mandatory voting: “If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.” Obama once served as the lawyer for the disgraced and defunct voter-registration group ACORN, and he is still toeing its line.

Then last week, Hillary Clinton demanded that the federal government override state laws and automatically register everyone to vote and then offer at least 20 days of early voting, turning Election Day into an Election Month. Both would dramatically complicate the job of already-overburdened voter registrars and make it harder to catch potential fraud. In the case of New York v. United States (1992) and other cases,  the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that it is beyond Congress’s power to do what Hillary wants.

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But her policy proposals were merely a way station on the path to Clinton’s goal: lambasting Republicans as inheritors of the Southern Democratic tradition of Jim Crow and firing up a liberal base that isn’t yet enamored of her. She accused Republicans of “fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of voter fraud” and accused Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker by name of taking part in “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people.”

Ohio governor John Kasich wasn’t amused. While Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general counsel, is participating in legal challenges to Ohio’s voter laws, his candidate doesn’t seem to follow the news in Ohio much. In discussing Clinton’s call for an early-voting period of 20 days, Kasich told Fox News:

If she wants to sue somebody, let her sue New York, In Ohio, we’ve got, like, 27 days of early voting, 27 days, a couple hundred hours. And In New York . . . the only voting that occurs is on Election Day. . . . And she’s going to sue my state? . . . Why don’t you take care of business at home before you run around the country using these demagogic statements that we don’t want people to vote.

Hillary won’t do that because her “business” is to turn out the maximum possible number of votes in 2016. The election-integrity measures being pushed in many states — such as showing photo ID at the polls — are enormously popular. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 76 percent of likely voters support photo ID, including 58 percent of Democrats. Such measures guard against the disfranchisement of voters that occurs when someone cancels out their vote through fraud, but Clinton dismisses the very notion of voter fraud, despite numerous recent examples and the virtual impossibility of detecting fraud once it has been committed using a secret ballot. “I went to the polls to vote last year, and was told someone had already voted in my name,” Dennis Miller, an economist from Akron, Ohio, told me this week. “The officials said there was no way to detect who had done it.”

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It’s not surprising that Mrs. Clinton denies the existence of fraud — she has a long history of encouraging measures that undermine election integrity. In 1993, President Bill Clinton made the passage of the Motor Voter Law his first legislative priority. Even though he had just been elected in a race that saw the largest increase in turnout in a generation, Clinton declared there was a “crisis” in voting and rammed the bill through Congress. It severely limited states from pruning “dead wood” (people who had died, moved, or been convicted of crimes) from their rolls. States had to permit mail-in voter registration, which made phantom voter registrations much easier. States could no longer ask anyone for identification or proof of citizenship when registering. Welfare, DMV, and other government offices were ordered to promote voter registration. Joe Madison, the former head of voter registration for the NAACP and now a radio talk-show host, said such measures would have a clear political effect. “When people are standing in line to get cheese and butter or unemployment compensation, you don’t have to tell them how to vote. They know how to vote.”

The Motor Voter Law was the brainchild of two radical academic allies of Saul Alinsky, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who believed that poor people had every moral right to game the electoral and political system to deliver radical change. Bill Clinton, with Hillary at his side, acknowledged the role Cloward and Piven had played in passing the legislation when he signed it into law in their presence in 1993. In 1996, Cloward defended  Motor Voter, telling CBS News, “It’s better to have a little bit of fraud than to leave people off the rolls who belong there.”

The Alinsky Left has actively promoted measures to expand the voting rolls by any means possible while they’ve opposed any and all ballot-security measures.

Since then, the Alinsky Left has actively promoted measures to expand the voting rolls by any means possible while they’ve opposed any and all ballot-security measures. “Liberal foundations, public-interest law firms, and advocacy groups have created a permanent network of experts and organizations devoted to an arcane but critical task — monopolizing the narrative on election laws and procedures,” Christian Adams told Breitbart News. A former Justice Department attorney, Adams is now in the private sector and has brought lawsuits to force several counties to clean up their rolls — including counties with more registered voters than they have adults. “Cloaking their actions in the rhetoric of civil rights and the right to vote, they seek to affect the outcome of the election.”

#related#Indeed, a tenet of the Alinsky Left is that there are no limits to how far activists will go to expand the voting rolls. Bill de Blasio, the radical New York Mayor who served as manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, has privately supported allowing aliens who have legal residency papers to vote in New York City elections. The City Council is likely to pass such a law and send it to his desk in time for his 2017 reelection battle.

None of Hillary Clinton’s proposals are likely to become law before she faces the voters in 2016. But it won’t be for lack of trying or because she’s too ethical to use Alinsky-style tactics to demagogue the issue.

— John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for National Review Online.

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