Why the Left Really is against Voter ID Laws
The crusade against voter ID laws is the new front in the Left's perennial campaign to convince Americans that Jim Crow is lurking just around the corner.
Left-wing activists and Democrat politicians argue that these laws disproportionately disqualify minorities. They further contend that voter ID laws are pushed by Republicans for the explicit purpose of suppressing the minority vote. Ergo, they insist, the intent of voter ID laws is racist.
It is of little concern to the Left and their allies in the "news" media that a supermajority of white and non-white Americans supports these laws, that jurisdictions with these laws in place saw an increase in black and Hispanic voter turnout in 2012, or that the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that voter ID laws are constitutional.
The Left is just as unmoved by the argument that there are virtually no barriers to acquiring a state issued ID, that an ID is required to drive a car, get a job, and rent an apartment, or that the assumption that black people are not as capable of getting an ID as white people is itself inherently racist.
No. When it comes to the issue of voter IDs, facts, logic, empirical evidence, and common sense cannot get in the way of leveling the libelous charge that racist Republicans are committed to stopping minorities from voting.
We can chalk the Left's position on voter IDs to opportunism: they know that voter IDs can, at least in theory, mitigate election fraud and potentially lower Democrat turnout. But this explanation overlooks the larger point: the Left's opposition to voter IDs is rooted in its ambivalence to representative democracy.
For the far left, elections are a means to an end. So long as elections lead to liberal Democrats implementing a leftist agenda, they are desirable. But if Americans elect conservatives who implement an agenda antithetical to the Left's world view, then elections are impediments to utopia. In other words, the Left does not place intrinsic value on elections. Above all, the Left values an intrusive federal government equipped with the power to manage (or micromanage) all sectors of society for the supposed betterment of humanity.
This is in stark contrast to conservatives and libertarians, who do place intrinsic value on elections. Not because elections always yield desirable results (we know they don't) but because representative democracy is necessary to a free and just society. It's not sufficient; there must be the rule of law inscribed in a Constitution that limits the power of elected officials and protects individual rights form majoritarian abuse. And as we saw in Nazi Germany and more recently in Egypt during the short reign of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is possible for despots to come to power democratically.
Yet democracy is the only means for holding the State accountable. As such, for conservatives, and specifically for constitutionalists, representative democracy is inherently good, regardless of electoral outcomes. As Winston Churchill quipped, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.
And because conservatives value representative democracy as a good in itself, we value the integrity of the electoral process. If elections are fraught with fraud and corruption, then representative democracy is a farce. (Saddam Hussein was technically democratically re-elected every seven years with 100% of the vote.)
Voter ID laws help preserve the integrity of elections and limit electoral fraud by simply ensuring that the person voting is who he says he is and that he is legally registered to vote. It's not a perfect system -- there is no such thing -- but it's a perfectly rational one.
For the Left, voter ID laws are tantamount to the poll tax and other discriminatory measures that have been obsolete for decades. For all the reasons listed above, this is a nonsensical position.
But because the Left does not inherently value representative democracy and sees it only as a means to Big Government, neither do leftists care about the integrity of the system. If voter ID laws make it more difficult for homeless people, dead people, felons, and other illegitimate voters to vote Democrat, then voter ID laws are barriers to leftist utopia.
The Bolsheviks (or Social Democrats as they liked to be called) held one election after seizing power in Russia. When to their shock they did not win the majority of the seats in Russia's parliament, they swiftly nullified the results, murdered in cold blood thousands of Russians protesting the injustice, and never held elections again.
I am not equating the American Left to the Russian Communist Party. My point is that the far left is a friend of democracy only when democracy serves to advance the left's agenda. If elections can be rigged to advance that agenda, then the means justify the end.
For most conservatives, the Left's visceral opposition to voter ID laws is a ploy to increase illegitimate Democratic turnout. For most Americans who are not political, the opposition is bizarre and nonsensical. The underlying logic of the far left is against common sense measures that preserve the integrity of elections because they pursue utopia, not a system of checks and balances.