The Nightmare That Is Steven King (R-IA)
Novelist Stephen King had some fun with 3 of the GOP contenders on Twitter yesterday. For most Americans, Paul, Cruz or Rubio would indeed be a horror story-- along with the entire Republican Party agenda. But for immigrants there's another Steven King-- the Iowa extremist-- who is much more of a horror story... and for many of them, an existential horror story at that. Thursday the Iowa King was on the John Fredericks Show on Virginia radio. King claims, disingenuously, that Obama is importing "illegals" to stack the voting rolls. "To put it simply," he told the right-wing, racist host, "the President is importing millions of illegal aliens who when they arrive here he thinks, and he’s right, they are undocumented Democrats, and so the next phase of this is to document these Democrats so they can vote."
King likened the executive action on immigration to President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to add seats to the Supreme Court in the 1930s when the court was challenging New Deal legislation.
“This is the President of the United States trying to stack the electorate with millions of people, lawlessly bringing them into the United States of America and giving them a presence here, and thinking and realizing that the longer you can keep them here the less likely it is that they will go home,” added King.
King called the Democratic Party “the beneficiaries” of the action. King said many undocumented immigrants “don’t understand the law” because “they come from lawless counties.
“And they will see Barack Obama and his party are the beneficiaries, that they are the beneficiaries of his lawlessness. They don’t understand the law, they come from lawless countries. So they’re not at all likely to defend our Constitution or the rule of law. They take an oath to it when they are, when they are naturalized, and I speak at those services as often as I can.”
King said Obama’s action would create a “massive electorate” that votes for Democrats the same way the 1964 Civil Rights Act made African-Americans vote for Democrats.
“It erodes the politics of this country, the respect for the rule of law, and it creates this massive electorate that will likely vote in large numbers for Barack Obama and his party, just like African Americans have done so after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which by the way took the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate to make sure that that passed.”
Sean McElwee: "If everybody in this country voted,” the economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, “the Democrats would be in for the next 100 years.” There is strong evidence to support his claim. A 2007 study by Jan Leighley and Jonathan Nagler found that nonvoters are more economically liberal than voters, preferring government health insurance, easier union organizing and more federal spending on schools. Nonvoters preferred Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by 59 percent to 24 percent, while likely voters were split 47 percent for each, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll. Nonvoters are far less likely to identify as Republican, and voters tend to be more opposed to redistribution than nonvoters."
[C]an turnout be swayed? Evidence suggests so. A study of 170 countries by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance found that electoral structures dramatically affect turnout. Measures such as no-excuse absentee voting, expansive early voting and Election Day registration have increased turnout. But in the United States, research suggests that the more black people in a county-- a group that tends to vote for Democrats-- the fewer early voting sites there are.
Regardless, a simple get-out-the-vote strategy is not enough. In a 2005 seminal study, political scientist Adam Berinsky found that reforms that make it easier for registered voters to cast ballots increase the socioeconomic bias of the electorate. Get-out-the-vote campaigns increase turnout only among individuals with already high propensity to vote. While these voters may still be liberal, electoral reform is needed to increase registration among nonvoters, particularly the poor. In 2012 only 52.7 percent of those with income below $10,000 were registered to vote, compared with 83.5 percent of those earning more than $150,000, according to U.S. census data. In order to address the gap in voting between those in the top and bottom income brackets, electoral reforms must affect registration.
...Progressives can also improve their electoral prospects with better information. First, there is the evidence from the Kaiser Family Foundation that Americans are least likely to know that reforms they support are included in the Affordable Care Act and most likely to know that reforms they oppose are included. “If the public had perfect understanding of the elements that we examined,” a group of researchers wrote in 2012, “the proportion of Americans who favor the bill might increase from the current level of 32 percent to 70 percent.” In another recent study, Fowler and Michele Margolis exposed participants (through fake op-eds) to simple facts about Republican and Democratic policy platforms on social and economic issues such as the earned income tax credit, minimum wage, abortion and same-sex marriage. “When uninformed citizens receive political information, they systematically shift their political preferences away from the Republican Party and toward the Democrats,” the researchers said.
Changing the composition of the electorate is the easiest way to shift policy to the left. As John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira point out, what they call the “emerging democratic majority” has always existed but just hasn’t voted. Instead, Democrats should mobilize the marginalized progressive majority. There was a time when progressives saw voting rights as essential to their strategy. In 1992, California Gov. Jerry Brown told Bill Clinton that his campaign would have Brown’s “full endorsement” if Clinton supported a $100 cap on political contributions, a ban on PACs, universal registration, same-day registration and an Election Day holiday. As Joan Didion points out in “Political Fictions,” Clinton did not receive Brown’s endorsement because at the time the more centrist Democratic Leadership Council’s strategy was to “jettison those voters who no longer turned out and target those who did.”
That strategy limits the liberalism of the Democratic Party because those who less consistently turn out tend to be more liberal than those who do. In addition, it alienates low-income people, further depressing turnout and creating a self-reinforcing cycle of people becoming increasingly alienated from established politicians and increasingly unlikely to vote. Democratic politicians are wary of policies to boost turnout because of its anti-incumbent effect and the possibility of progressive challengers.
Now with Democrats on the defensive across the country, conservatives fighting full franchise and progressives realizing the limits of hero leftism, there may be an effort to mobilize the marginalized progressive majority. If they are persuaded to weigh in at the ballot box, they can sway the agenda that Democratic leaders support. As a truly great progressive, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said to his progressive base, “I agree with you. Now make me do it.”