by John Grooms
On Tuesday, Sen. Bob Rucho, that irascible Republican from Matthews, gave a two-hour defense of the Senate's proposed election law changes. Rucho's talk brought to mind a seemingly eternal conundrum for political observers: Does this guy/woman, actually believe his/her own bullshit?
During his talk, Rucho said a new law was necessary because our current election laws are "outdated" and "archaic." The new law, said Rucho, reaching for the stars, "re-establishes confidence in our election process, and therefore our government." Now, getting anyone to have more confidence in state government is a heavy lift in the best of times, much less when polls show that a majority of North Carolinians feel the current GOP-controlled legislature is taking the state in the wrong direction. But that didn't deter Rucho from his roaring defense of one of the worst examples of voter suppression and election-selling in this state since the Jim Crow days.
The bill in question, which suddenly is also favored by House members, according to House Speaker Thom Tillis, would make far-reaching changes to North Carolina's election laws. Voters would have to show a government-issued photo ID (no more talk of letting voters use various types of ID); early voting would be cut from two-and-a-half weeks to one-and-a-half; some requirements for identifying supporters of political ads would be eliminated (how do you say "Koch brothers"?); and a variety of forms of voter registration would be eliminated.
As stated and documented over and over and over, the result - and, as is obvious to anyone but the willfully blind, the purpose - of the changes would be to make it easier for candidates to gather big corporate money, and make it harder for students, the elderly and minorities to exercise their constitutional right to vote. And that's what Rucho calls re-establishing "confidence in our election process." In fact, trust in North Carolina elections could best be re-established by a bipartisan re-drawing of districts, since the GOP's ruthless gerrymandering is the main reason that party has a large majority in the General Assembly (Democratic candidates for the General Assembly received more total votes than GOP candidates, and yet are a small minority in the legislature). But if you think Rucho & Co. would agree to that form of "re-establishing confidence and integrity," you really haven't been paying attention.
Now back to the question of whether Rucho believes his own B.S. I've wondered the same thing about a number of politicians for years. Hell, for decades. It's one of the "benefits" of following politics pretty closely - watching total malarkey flowing effortlessly out of the mouths of people that you'd think would know better. Are they self-deluded enough to really believe this stuff, or are they just blatant, shameless liars? Either way, politicians like Rucho - what philosopher Eric Hoffer called "true believers" - often cause a lot of damage, whether they believe what they're saying or not. In today's La-la Land version of a legislature, I'm not even sure the current majority know what they're thinking - or that they care. How else do you explain this destructive bunch of spiteful clowns?