Michael Kinsley famously wrote: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”
Pennsylvania GOP House leader Mike Turzai uttered precisely such a statement over the weekend when he said that the state’s new voter ID law “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Republicans have passed more than a dozen new voting restrictions since 2010, including voter ID laws in ten GOP-controlled states, under the guise of stopping the virtually nonexistent problem of “ voter fraud.” Yet the real purpose of the new voting restrictions, as Turzai admitted, is to shape the electorate in the GOP’s favor, since such laws disproportionately impact Democratic-leaning young and minority voters. As Bill Clinton said last year: “Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.”
In order to justify new voter suppression laws, GOP operatives are spinning increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories about alleged schemes of the Obama campaign and its allies to try to hijack the 2012 election. “Stop the corrupt Obama machine from stealing the 2012 elections,” reads the headline of a recent fundraising letter from the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch (see below).
According to Judicial Watch, which led the fight to impeach Clinton, the Obama administration is “aggressively pursuing plans behind closed doors to enact ‘stealth’ amnesty’ for millions of illegal aliens in a move to curry favor with Hispanic voters and potentially make it easier for illegal aliens to break the law and vote in 2012,” along with “continuing to funnel tax dollars to the corrupt and criminal ACORN.”
Such assertions are easily debunked. There is no “stealth amnesty” program, there is no record of noncitizens intentionally voting in US elections and ACORN no longer exists. Yet such outlandish claims are deeply ingrained in the conservative psyche. A 2009 survey by Public Policy Polling found that “52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately.”