By Dave Andrusko
This post won’t be particularly long because even I was almost struck dumb by President Obama’s remarks yesterday. (I was going to post Wednesday but in the back of my mind I think I wanted to make sure it not some sort of hoax.)
We all know the President is not, shall we say, a particularly humble man. So it’s no surprise that no matter how many hits his party has taken during his six years as president, no matter how many fewer Democrats there are in the House and Senate, he will never, ever concede it had anything to do with his reverse coattails.
So after I thought about it some, I concluded it was not the least bit surprised that Mr. Obama would have kind words to say about mandatory voting.
Yes, mandatory, as in you must vote, or else. The “else” wasn’t spelled out but in other countries with compulsory voting laws there are fines, even potential imprisonment, according to the Associated Press’s Josh Lederman.
Various accounts said Mr. Obama “floated” the proposal when he met with a “civic group in Cleveland.” What he had to say was unfortunate on a number of grounds, not the least of which it showed the president at his divisive worst.
According to the AP, he pivoted from answering a question about the “corrosive influence of money in U.S. elections,” to talk about voting rights and “how the U.S. should be making it easier – not harder- for people to vote,” according to Lederman’s paraphrase.
Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.
“If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country,” Obama said, calling it potentially transformative. Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would “counteract money more than anything.”
First, “Transformative” is one way of putting it. Creepy, potentially authoritarian, and still another example of Obama’s extremism is another.
Second, it is a not even a thinly-veiled shot at the Supreme Court for its 2010 Citizens United decision. If you remember, in a State of the Union Address the same month, Obama bluntly criticized the Supreme Court with several members of the High Court in attendance. It had a banana republic overtone that made me nervous then, even more so now.
Third, according to the AP’s Lederman, Obama added, “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”
“Some folks” is code for Republicans. “Them” is shorthand for those who did not vote in the 2014 elections, the absence of which, the President broadly hinted at the time, made the validity of those elections—another crushing defeat for Democrats—problematic.
Obama mentioned passing a constitutional amendment to effectively overturn or negative Citizens United (it would be “fun” to kick that idea around), but “Realistically, given the requirements of that process, that would be a long-term proposition.”
Do you think he’s ever considered amending the Constitution by Executive Order?