Mitt Romney escaped the record heat this weekend by attending several parties in his honor in the Hamptons. Early predictions were that one afternoon in this elite enclave would net the candidate more than $3 million for his campaign.
Less than 200 miles away in Philadelphia, where the median income hovers at $36,000 and a quarter of the city lives below the poverty line, there were no beach parties, but some disturbing news. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that state election officials upped the number of statewide voters potentially affected by the new voter ID laws from the 90,000 that Governor Corbett claimed to 758,000. A full 9.2 percent of the state’s eligible voters could be turned away from the polls in November, despite being eligible. In Philadelphia, where over half of the city’s residents are people of color, 18 percent of registered voters lack proper ID under the state’s new laws—laws that Pennsylvania House leader Mike Turzai claimed will deliver the state to Romney in November.
These twin anecdotes seem to perfectly capture the GOP 2012 plan for victory: “voters out, money in.” Despite the massive capital advantage the Republicans have accrued, they’re still driving a strategy of disenfranchisement and destruction that imperils our democracy and seeds distrust among a populace already experiencing record lows of confidence in their elected leadership.
Next week, pundits will be hyperventilating over the political fundraising totals from the last quarter. The cover of the Sunday NY Times Magazine breathlessly asks the rhetorical question, “Can Democrats Catch Up in the Super-PAC game?” Let’s get it clear: no, they can’t and no one ever claimed they could. But they also don’t need to—what they need is to raise some money, spend it smarter than their counterparts, and provide millions of people the legal means and the emotional desire to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The right understands this key to Democratic victory, which is why outraising is not enough. Victory requires dominating the system at both ends.
More than two dozen states have passed voter ID laws, with eleven passing in the last two years. Republicans, sensing the opportunity, have continually hyped the negligible threat of voter fraud in order to make voting tougher and tougher for the elderly, the poor, Latinos and African-Americans—all of whom tend to lean Democratic. Meanwhile, back in April, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million on one day to Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future. Combined with $20 million to Newt Gingrich’s failed bid plus millions more to Rove and Koch brothers front groups, Adelson has given close to $60 million all told, and has stated publicly that he’ll spend up to $100 million to defeat Barack Obama.