When it comes to claims of voter suppression, Democrats have largely cornered the market in the past several years. With Republican state legislators often making it harder to vote by imposing new identification standards, reducing the number of polling places as well as opportunities to vote early or by absentee ballot, when someone cries “voter suppression” it has been, until now, almost certainly a Democrat.
But Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus on Tuesday morning sent out a Tweet that turned the tables. “Tom Steyer’s dark money group can’t win on the issues, so they're suppressing the Republican vote instead,” it read, linking to an opinion piece under Priebus’s byline on FoxNews.com.
Steyer, the billionaire investor-turned environmental activist is the founder of NextGen Climate Action and the related Super PAC NextGen Climate Action Committee, both of which are nominally non-partisan, but spend the vast majority of their money to support Democrats.
Tom Steyer’s dark money group can’t win on the issues, so they're suppressing the Republican vote instead. http://t.co/c3rOCjNSb6— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 14, 2014
Priebus begins the piece ominously. Steyer and his supporters can’t overcome voters’ anger at the Obama administration, he claims, “So they have a new plan: suppress the Republican vote.”
Now, to people familiar with this nation’s history, voter suppression conjures images of lynchings and riots, poll taxes, literacy tests, and the ugliest elements of the Jim Crow south. So what heavy-handed and maybe even illegal tactics is Steyer using?
Priebus points to a September 10 memo sent by Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane to NextGen state-level teams outlining the group’s nefarious scheme.
According to Priebus, “NextGen lays out a plan to “degrade Republican performance” by “dampening Republican enthusiasm levels.”
Wait. What? That’s it?
Yes indeed, the “voter suppression” scheme spearheaded by NextGen involves no intimidating poll watchers, no voter caging, and no misleading mailers with false information. Steyer and his minions will, instead, try to make some Republican voters rethink their support for GOP candidates by…wait for it…telling them what the candidates stand for.
When it comes to voter suppression, it turns out, Steyer and his associates are rank amateurs. They couldn’t even come up with a scary sounding name for the program, settling instead on the “Republican Haircut Strategy.”
The “key takeaway” from the Lehane memo, on which Priebus bases his article, is as follows:
In virtually every state NextGen is electorally engaged, there is an issue where the Republican candidate's anti-climate, anti-basic science beliefs has manifested itself in policies with harmful consequences for all voters in the state, 9 including Republican voters. Our Republican Haircut Strategy -- a precision focus on a specific harm in target Republican markets -- we will seek to degrade Republican performance.”
The grand goal of the Haircut strategy is “to have an impact at the margins” of the races in question.
Sheriff Jim Clark could have taught these guys a thing or two.
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