What a mess.

Democrats (and their allies in the media) have convinced themselves that the Republican Party is at war with democracy.

Republicans (and their allies in the media) have convinced themselves that the Democratic Party is at war with democracy.

They're both wrong, although in very different ways.

Let's set the stage. For years, Democrats have been determined to make voting as easy as possible. The pandemic offered a once-in-a-century opportunity to do just that, because mass gatherings were deemed dangerous. So, various states, including those run by Republicans, eased rules on absentee and early voting. Democracy must go on and all that.

These changes were, to my mind, entirely reasonable even if there were some problems with how they were implemented. In some states, changes weren't made by the state legislature but by governors and judges. Republicans offered no legal objections when they had standing to do so and only complained after Trump lost.

In the wake of the 2020 election, Trump's team members claimed these changes amounted to evidence the election was stolen from him. (They also spewed a host of insane conspiracy theories involving everything from Chinese and Venezuelan computer hacking to North Korean counterfeit ballots.)

Partly because of Trump's false claims and partly because they believed that pandemic voting rules were extraordinary measures that shouldn't be made permanent, Republicans at the state level decided they had to prove they took "election integrity" seriously.

They thought, incorrectly, this was a brilliant political strategy that would allow them to sidestep addressing Trump's lies while placating his voters. Instead, they found themselves seeming to ratify Trump's lies and annoying his supporters by not going far enough.

Still, most of the measures that have been made into law are reasonable. Indeed, in many states voting will be easier than it was before the pandemic.

But Democrats have stuck to a script that makes no allowances for this reality. Instead, they insist that any tightening of the pandemic rules is a frontal assault on democracy. President Biden and a host of other Democrats, as well as legions of liberal pundits, claim these changes amount to a "21st century Jim Crow assault" on democracy, in Biden's words.

Consider one of the few restrictions on voting that's actually stricter than the pre-pandemic standard: voter ID for mail-in ballots. This is one of the issues that drove a bunch of Democratic lawmakers in Texas to flee the state and sing "We Shall Overcome" rather than allow voting measures to be passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Now, you can think this is a bad policy. (I don't.) But how on earth it amounts to Jim Crow is a mystery to me. Put aside that a majority of African Americans favor requiring voter ID. Ignore the fact that Texas already required identification for in-person voting. This seems like a far cry from a system that sanctioned lynching, segregation and apartheid.

Vice President Kamala Harris was asked by BET TV what's so terrible about voter ID for mail-in voting.

"There are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don't (have access to photocopiers), Harris explained. "There's no Kinko's, there's no Office Max near them."

Whatever you think of the scarcity-of-copy-machines claim — virtually every mobile phone has a camera on it, by the way — there's another problem. Rural America is about 78 percent white, according to government statistics, and this is where Republicans over-perform. Trump beat Biden 2 to 1 in rural counties, and Trump destroyed Biden in rural Texas.

Are we to believe a restriction that disproportionately affects the GOP's white, rural base is tantamount to Jim Crow? Really?

Or consider the elimination of drive-thru voting, as some Republicans want. Voters couldn't cast ballots that way in 2018. Was that Jim Crow? If so, Barack Obama, the first Black president, was elected by a Jim Crow country.

It's all such nonsense.

Claims that the Republicans are at war with democracy are ludicrous when directed at these various bills — even if some of the changes are misguided or unnecessary.

But they do have weight when aimed at Trump himself. He is the first modern president to openly reject the legitimacy of an election. And because of his stranglehold on the party, Republicans have maneuvered themselves into a ridiculous cul-de-sac that gives Democrats all the ammo and permission they need to make ridiculous claims that, among other things, reduce Jim Crow's real moral horrors to election trivialities.

Shame on all of them.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and the host of The Remnant podcast. His Twitter handle is @JonahDispatch.

(13) comments


The point of the column is not whether or not one agrees with the various states' revised voting laws, the point is that, contrary to Joe Biden's wild eyed, over the top rhetoric, parroted by his Democratic minions, these concepts may not be to everyone's liking, but they are not unreasonable and it is absurd to compare them to Jim Crow, the Civil War or a war on democracy. Biden is engaging in a repeat performance of the slanders Trump made in advance of the '20 election, attempting to discredit the election results before a single vote is cast. It was stupid and dangerous when Trump did it and it's just as stupid and dangerous coming out of Biden's mouth. It's also interesting to note that after a decade or more of Dems screaming about the racism inherent in requiring voters to provide ID, their screaming transformed into silence when a poll was released a few weeks back revealing that 80% of Black voters supported voter ID.


Once again, bending facts and stats... It is actually 80 % of the 810 people in the poll. The same poll wanted easier voting, mail in ballots, etc. to be more accessible. Very little concern about voter fraud by the respondents.


Yeah, that's kind of how polls work. They don't actually interview the entire citizenry. You and Joe are spot on.... It's Jim Crow and the Civil War all over again.


Wow, thanks for being so condescending in your response - I never realized how polls work or that they could have serious flaws. Why address your misleading use of the poll numbers ??


HD - One condescension deserves another, I guess. Not sure how you interpreted my reference to a poll as misleading. Folks hereabouts reference polls all the time without going into detail about sample size and the like. Eighty percent of 800 people agreeing on any issue is quite telling in this day and age regardless. If your side didn't have a news diet restricted to WaPo, MSNBC and CNN, you might learn that a growing number of Blacks find the progressives' position on Voter ID as well as other so-called "racist voting restrictions" as insulting and -- wait for it -- condescending. As for easier voting, mail in ballots and voter fraud, these are all issues that can and should be subject to reasonable debate, but they are decidedly not the moral equivalents of Jim Crow, or the American Civil War.


How was it misleading??? Did you not claim 80% of Black voters supported voter id laws - no where in the poll you referenced did it claim that. Again, you make the assumption that my sides only news source is WaPo, CNN etc. Yeah,some check with those at times but also others like NPR. Your immediate jump to " your side" says a lot. Again, I'll ask if having one drop box per county in a state the size of Texas is impacting folks ability to vote?


HD -- You sir, are correct and I am wrong. I regret the error and apologize for the condescension, although I stand by my contention that none of this warrants the reckless hyperbolic analogies being tossed around about Jim Crow and the Civil War. (Obviously, however, it does warrant factual accuracy.) Now sir, if you will excuse me, I will cease shoveling the hole I have managed to dig for myself.


Biden has minions? I thought he had handlers. Dang, it’s hard to keep track of whether he is a mastermind or a dolt.


The minions are controlled by the handlers.[cool]


The author should listen to the Republicans themselves who gave away the game by asserting that some people should not be allowed to vote. Those people all seem to be Democrats.

Also, all of this silliness is irrelevant when the big hammer is the ability of Republican state legislatures to just override the vote count and install their own winner. Sure, you can vote. It just won’t count.

The demographics don’t work for the Republicans, so cheating is the next best thing.


Question for the author of this article. Why should voting not be easy and readily accessible to all ? He spins the Texas attempts but fails to mention they allow only one drop box for mail in ballots per county? Given the size and population of the state, does this seem logical? Once again, this is made political when it should not be. Why no mention of the For the People Act ?


good column.


Good column but it fails to emphasize several issues enough: 1) The lack of acknowledgment by many Republicans that voter suppression has never not existed in certain states; 2) The lack of real evidence that the easing of voting restrictions in 2020 caused voter fraud or that that there has been significant voter fraud in general; 3) A goal of many Republicans is to keep marginalized people from voting.

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