In 1965, then-president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. This landmark legislation was aimed at preventing state and local governments from disenfranchising African Americans, who–while having earned the right to vote nearly a century earlier under the 15th Amendment to the Constitution–were still being denied their voting rights, especially in the south. The law contained several provisions that essentially prohibited any attempt to prevent state and local changes by jurisdictions with a history of egregious discrimination without first consulting the Department of Justice. The Conservative Roberts Supreme Court struck down this provision of Voting Rights Act in 2013. As Republicans have gained control of state and local legislatures across the nation, they have consistently passed very strict voter-ID laws that are specifically aimed at making it harder for minorities and Democrats to vote.
Todd Allbaugh, a man who spent 30 years working for Republicans in Wisconsin, has come to national attention for posting on his Facebook page April 5 that he was leaving the Republican Party because Republican state senators in Wisconsin were ecstatic that these laws were helping to suppress Democratic voters by depriving them of their right to vote.
“You wanna know why I left the Republican Party as it exists today? Here it is; this was the last straw: I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters. Think about that for a minute. Elected officials planning and happy to help deny a fellow American’s constitutional right to vote in order to increase their own chances to hang onto power. A vigorous debate on the ideas wasn’t good enough. Inspiring the electorate and relying on their agenda being better to get people to vote for them wasn’t good enough. No, they had to take the coward’s way out and come up with a plan to suppress the vote under the guise of ‘voter fraud.’ The truth? There was almost none.”
In fact, Allbaugh further noted in his post that:
“GOP Speaker Voss’ estranged wife voted twice in both Idaho and WI, and a GOP staffer was caught voting twice. But it was good rhetoric. Yesterday, one of my employees, born in California went to get his WI ID. He was told he couldn’t use his CA ID to get a WI ID without his birth certificate which is back in CA. The result? He’s not able to vote today. Here’s a young man in his early 20’s, who is taking part and interested in voting for the first time in his life. He was excited to go to the polls. What kind of a state, a legislature, a political party is it that denies this young man his right?”
Allbaugh says he has always believed that the Republican Party was a party of ideas, one that was a “shinning [sic] example of equality…one worth fighting for…But my God, to watch a party I once fought for deny a young man his voting rights…it boils my blood, leaves a pit in my stomach. It’s time for a #GOPImplosion.”
He appeared on MSNBC with Chris Hayes and had this to say:
TODD ALLBAUGH: I’ve been a Republican for a long time. It was at that moment, Chris, in that room in the senate Republican caucus when I heard people, a Party I had fought for for over 30 years of my life, actually giddy and happy and talking about how we can take people’s Constitutional rights away, or at least impede them, in order to hang onto power. Now you have group of people in the state legislature, particularly in the senate Republican caucus, who want to impede peoples’ voting rights. That’s the point where I said “I can’t do it anymore.” I can’t be a Republican, I can’t keep going to caucuses because this Party no longer represents me and what I believe in.
It is obvious that Republicans cannot win the war of ideas. One need only look at the presidential candidates they have put forth. One man is a race-baiting, xenophobic hate-monger, and authoritarian fascist. The other is a dangerous religious fanatic, who when he was recently asked about an abortion-rights exception in the case of rape, said that a woman who is raped should be forced by the government to have her baby – “I don’t believe it makes sense to blame the child.” So the GOP answer to winning elections is more obstruction by keeping people away from the polls by imposing nearly insurmountable requirements to vote – since low voter turnout has always favored Republicans. However, at least for one Republican, this is not how you reflect the American value of equality and win the war of ideas in an election.