The New Republic recently ran a piece about the “whiteness” of Scott Walker and how that makes him unelectable. The article’s title, “The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker,” is a play on the name of the book the Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book that shows the dangers of an overbearing and burdensome Soviet state and those who fight against it. The TNR staff would have been better off reading the book rather than just co-opting the title, then maybe they would see the beauty of Scott Walker rolling back public sector unions negotiating power to lead Wisconsin from a deficit to a surplus. Or perhaps they would see the enormous drop in union membership once a choice was offered, freeing workers from forced servitude, and remittance, to a union that didn’t represent their interests. All of those would be wonderful topics but unfortunately, it’s left wing journalism so it all boils down to race. In this case, anecdotal evidence that shows somehow a state that voted for a black president twice is electing a white governor because of white supremacy, and more specifically, voter ID laws.
One Flawed Study is Driving Bad Policy
While there have been multiple studies on the effects of voter identification laws, one study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University is easily the most cited, and significantly flawed. First, the study speaks only to an impact of African-American voters. The Brennan Center study had such a small sample size that is could not produce any data with any statistical significance with respect to Hispanics despite there being 12 million for Hispanics in the United States. Yet, despite a failure to have a proper sample size for a larger portion of the population, the study was willing to say that 25% of African-Americans have no government issued ID.
How small was the entire surveyed group for this study? 987 people or the population of Lowville, Wisconsin if you’re looking for a small town that you would never credibly believe represents the views of 320 million Americans. Breaking it down further, if the 987 people were accurately broken down to represent US demographics, 118 African-Americans would have been polled and of that group, 31 would have had to say they have no valid identification to vote. So while TNR is seeing some enormous new Jim Crow conspiracy behind voter ID laws, they’re basing their opinion off of the responses of 31 people. Policy shouldn’t be driven by a group as big as Baskin Robbins flavor selection.
The questions of the study also lead to different conclusions than TNR jumped to. In the study, 11% of Americans do not possess an unexpired government ID. Unexpired is an important word that seems to be missing from these diatribes of the left about disenfranchising minorities. An unexpired ID implies you have the capacity to get an ID and have simply not taken the time to do it. But if we’re to believe the Brennan Center, a group the same size as the population of New York does not possess a valid ID.
Since Voter ID Laws Were Pass, Minority Turnout is Up
The important thing to remember about the Brennan Center study is that it was done in 2006 before Barack Obama invigorated the African-American vote. In 2012, black voter turnout actually passed non-Hispanic white voter turnout for the first time. And that high level of participation should be the death knell of this absurd claim racism drives voter ID requirements. In all, 66% of eligible African-Americans turned out to vote in 2012 compared to 50% who turned out in 1996. That’s a 32% increase in African-American voter participation while if the Brennan Center is to believed, black voter participation should be dropping.
The TNR crowd would be quick to say that nationally black turnout is up but that doesn’t mean voter turnout is up everywhere. That’s a fair critique if you ignore the numbers from Georgia. Georgia passed voter identification laws and has since seen a tremendous increase in African-American voter turnout. And these laws are common sense. You have to prove who you are to get a loan, board a plane, buy a gun, enter Eric Holder’s talk on how requiring an ID is racist, and to enter any federal court. There is simply no logical reason to oppose voter ID laws other than the racist notion that minorities are incapable of getting an ID at a higher rate than white people. Polls show that this is common sense to most people including minorities who support voter ID laws 83% to 17% who oppose them. Even 65% of liberals support voter ID laws. Apparently everyone but TNR thinks that asking someone to get an ID isn’t a bothersome hurdle in order to protect the integrity of the election.
By TNR’s Logic, Jimmy Carter and John Paul Stevens are Racists
In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority in upholding an Indiana law requiring identification to vote. The justice who since retirement has said we need to rewrite the second amendment, saw the burden of providing identification, or casting a provisional ballot and later proving identification, was not so large as to void a validly neutral law aimed at protecting the integrity of the ballot box. Even the dissent of the rest of the liberal wing focused on the burden of obtaining identification rather than the requirement of providing identification once obtained. Stevens is as liberal as liberal justices get and yet he supports voter ID laws. So either he’s quietly a secret racist who really hates minorities, or the equation of support for voter ID laws equals racism doesn’t quite balance.
Jimmy Carter is another upstanding liberal who by TNR’s logic is motivated entirely by racism. In 2005, he proposed a universal voter identification law that would require photo identification in every state to vote and provided a free and easy way to obtain identification. But, applying TNR math to Jimmy Carter, he is a racist because he supports requiring 21 million people, if you trust the Brennan Center’s numbers, to get an ID to protect the rights of 220 million voting age Americans. Perhaps, TNR has it wrong and maybe, just maybe, the overwhelming majority of people supporting these laws are not racist but can see the trees for the ACORNs they produce.
Scott Walker is clearly a rising star in national politics and rightly so. First and foremost, he’s been good for the Wisconsin economy. Nationally, the economy is all people care about when you boil the fat off so it naturally follows Walker’s economic success would make him appealing. This is why you’re seeing an early barrage of editorials, because articles require facts, not anecdotes, disparaging him as a racist monster rather than an economic dynamo giving the people what they want. There’s a reason he won by an even bigger margin after he curtailed union power. Thirty-one responses make Scott Walker, Jimmy Carter, and John Paul Stevens racists only when using flawed math and flawed questions to get an answer you were going to produce all along, evidence be damned.