If you care about democracy, you probably shouldn't vote Republican during Tuesday's midterm elections. If you think American citizens should have the right to vote, and that government should enable that right instead of restrict it, there is only one party acting on behalf of your interests. It is not the GOP.
Republican appointees gutted the Voting Rights Act. Republicans are paring down the voting rolls in Georgia. Republicans have moved the single voting location in Dodge City, Kansas, to a new spot outside the town's city limits. Republicans have softened the Department of Justice's commitment to voting rights. Republicans have passed voter ID laws across the country that have made it more difficult for poor and minority people to register and cast votes.
There are many "both sides do it" issues in American politics, more than either party wants to admit. This isn't one of them: Everywhere you find it harder to vote in this country, it's almost certainly thanks to Republicans.
New polling shows that "a majority of voters in both parties are deeply suspicious about the opposing party's commitment to fair elections," as The Washington Post reported Sunday. But just how committed each party is can be discerned by looking at the numbers: Eighty-four percent of Democrats and Dem-leaning independents support doing "everything possible" to make it easy for every citizen to vote. Meanwhile, just under half of Republicans say they support the same sentiment. That's a huge partisan divide, and it speaks for itself.
The polling also reveals that, among Republican voters who think America's increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a bad thing, most are against making it easier for their fellow citizens to vote.
In the wake of the election meddling scandal of 2016, most Americans are not confident that America's election systems are safe. Most believe it is likely that Russia or some other foreign government will attempt to influence Tuesday's elections. But in August, Senate Republicans rejected a $250 million measure to help states protect their systems.
It is clear that, in action and attitude, Republicans are on the wrong side of democracy. And they've combined that anti-democratic spirit with a nearly unprecedented embrace of shamelessness. On Sunday, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp accused Democrats of trying to hack the state's voter registration system. There are two things notable about this accusation: First, as The New York Times pointed out, he made the charge while offering "scant evidence" to support it. Second, and most alarmingly, Kemp is Georgia's GOP candidate for governor: Integrity would normally require somebody to step aside from such clear conflicts of interest, at least to avoid being seen as being compromised. But Kemp took a different route: He doubled down.
The central ethic of Trumpism is pure, weaponized shamelessness, and Kemp's actions demonstrate how the GOP has adopted this approach. Shame requires a level of fidelity to ideas about truth and integrity — indeed, the Founders relied on shame as a check on public officials, even if all other checks and balances failed. But President Trump figured out a long time ago that you can get away with just about anything so long as you refuse to acknowledge guilt, and if you keep yelling louder than your opponents until they finally give up.
Trump seems to be doubling down on his own shamelessness as the elections near — whether that's by touting obviously bogus poll results celebrating widespread support from African Americans, or by pushing a "torrent of falsehoods" unconstrained by "fact, fairness, or even logic." The Washington Post's fact checker can barely keep up with what the paper called "full Trumpism."
Democrats, too, have in the past stolen elections and run big city machines that made little pretense of caring what voters thought. But there's no doubt that this particular anti-democratic moment belongs to the GOP alone. Democracy requires habits of action and habits of mind. Republicans cultivate action that discourages many citizens from voting; they also cultivate conspiracies and calumnies. If your vote isn't one that has been suppressed by the activities of Republicans, the best way to make the party pay for its sins is at the polls.