Rich Lowry: Hillary's race card
Anyone who doubts that Hillary Clinton is already in fine fighting trim for a presidential run should consider her speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.
She assailed an alleged "assault on voting rights." She took aim at the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act and excoriated states that have recently tightened their voting laws. She declared that "anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention."
Madam Secretary hasn't missed a beat. She knows that the calling card of Democrats in the Obama era is a polarizing politics that seeks to fire up minority voters by stirring fears of fire hoses and police dogs. Its basic vocabulary is imputations of racism; its evidentiary standard is low and dishonest; and its ethic is whatever works - so long as it stirs fear and anger.
The latest target is the state of North Carolina, which is accused of soiling itself with a new voter ID law, among other changes in its election laws. "The Decline of North Carolina," harrumphs The New York Times. "North Carolina's Attack on Voting Rights," says The Daily Beast.
North Carolina's offense is joining the American mainstream. It is one of at least 30 states to adopt a voter ID law. Such laws enjoy broad public support. A Washington Post poll last year showed 65 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Latinos supporting voter ID. It is such a common-sense idea that such foreign redoubts of backwardness as Switzerland and Sweden require an ID to vote.
The constitutionality of voter ID isn't in doubt. The Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in 2008 in a 6-3 decision written by now-retired liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. The evidence suggests that voter ID laws don't suppress the votes of anyone. Hans A. von Spakovsky, a voting expert at The Heritage Foundation, points out that major, dispassionate studies show no effect on turnout.
Groups opposed to Georgia's voter ID law, passed in 2005, sued and struck out at federal district court. As von Spakovsky writes, "The court pointed out that after two years of litigation, none of the plaintiff organizations like the NAACP had been able to produce a single individual or member who did not have a photo ID or could not easily obtain one."
Critics of the ID laws like to say that fraud is "nonexistent." This is wrong. Cases always bubble up - was recently revealed that fake signatures got Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the primary ballot in Indiana in 2008, and Milwaukee County charged 10 people earlier this year with voter fraud in 2012. As the Supreme Court noted in the Indiana case, "Flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this nation's history."
It's not that fraud is massive or decisive. It nonetheless should be prevented to the extent possible. Hillary and the left will have none of it, though. North Carolina, in particular, is said to have exposed the nasty underlying agenda of voter ID.
It is cutting back on early voting, from 17 days to 10 days. There it is - that must be disenfranchisement! But the state wants to make up for the reduced days with more sites where voters can vote early and greater hours of operation. (Despite the animadversions of The New York Times, New York doesn't allow no-excuse early voting - surely because it is so hostile to minorities.)
It is ending same-day registration. Bingo! North Carolina hates black voters. But the majority of states -again, including New York - don't allow same-day registration.
You can certainly argue that election laws like those adopted in North Carolina are unnecessary or imprudent. You can't argue that they are a de facto return to the era of the poll tax. But Hillary is undeterred. Evidently, she is fired up and ready to go.
Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.