Friday, June 05, 2015

Election 2016: Clinton Goes on the Offensive

I'm already on record as definitely not a Hillary Clinton fan for various reasons -- near-complete ideological incompatibility and her flagrant corruption/criminality among them. That second one is the part that's been on display during the first five months of 2015, what with the email scandal, the Clinton Foundation "pay for diplomatic play" scandal, etc.

It's easy to forget that she has a well-honed political sense and that when she gets out on the hustings, she's one hell of a campaigner. Yesterday, in Texas, she hit the GOP in general, and several of its presidential primary candidates in particular, pretty hard. It will leave a bruise.

The subject: Voting.

In a speech at Texas Southern University -- on the very day that Rick Perry formally announced his candidacy and Jeb Bush announced his plan to announce -- Clinton slammed the GOP strategy of trying to suppress the vote (in particular the votes of those with darker skins, the votes of people who may not speak English as a first language, etc.). And she didn't just play Negative Nellie. She put up two real, meaty policy proposals.

First, she called for at least 20 days of "early voting" access nationwide.

Secondly, she called for automatic voter registration nationwide.

Disclaimer: I don't necessarily support those proposals. I'm skeptical of voting and elections in the first place, but if we're going to have them I don't think we necessarily should go out of our way to make it as easy as falling off a log to exercise the franchise.

With Motor Voter, registering to vote these days is pretty much a matter of saying "yes" when you're asked while getting a driver's license or interacting with government in a bunch of other ways. It's not like you have to walk six miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to get registered. Heck, in Florida all I had to do was download, print, sign and mail a form (since I didn't happen to be at the DMV or whatever). Took me maybe five minutes.

If someone's too un-interested or lazy to do that, they're probably too lazy to inform themselves concerning candidates and issues too, so I'm not personally motivated to horsewhip them into registering and voting.

That said, Clinton's making a great political move here, for two reasons:

  1. She's positioning herself as the friend of, and the Republicans as the enemies of, democracy and voting rights. You may or may not like those two things, but most people do. Which means that most people who notice this will be more likely to vote for her than for one of them.
  2. The demographics also just generally favor her. The Republicans already have their "low-information voters" in harness. They got them there with talk radio and Fox News. All they had to do was repeat "if you don't vote -- or if you don't vote for us when you do vote! -- Osama bin Laden will come to your house and blow it up, after marrying your son and forcing your daughter to get an abortion" often and loudly for 20 years or so. Of the people out there who aren't registered and/or don't make the effort to vote, probably 70% will vote Democrat if they can be convinced to vote at all (and probably another 5-10% will vote third party).
So: More voters and higher turnout help the Democrats. And so does an all-out brawl with the Republicans about more voters and higher turnout.

And she's trotting this stuff out early, while the GOP candidates are just now getting started versus each other. Yes, they'll all slam her by the numbers (to no effect other than advertising her campaign), but they'll spend most of the time campaigning against each other to GOP primary voters, while she gets to campaign to the general electorate as her party's nominee-apparent (unless Lincoln Chafee, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders or maybe Jim Webb find a way to get their teeth into her hide).

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