Montreal A Washington Post blog was hard for me to ignore. Philip Bump was amazed to find that when he charted the data on the top dozen Republican attack themes during the Obama Administration that ACORN stood out so loud and proud, practically dominating in 2009 and 2010, but carrying over as a major target after attack into 2012. Of course it is no surprise that the Republicans have been obsessed with ACORN. Perhaps the surprise was how much it seems to have been part of their message, rather than simply a crazed obsession.
In a dramatic graphic, in 2009 and 2010 the number of times that ACORN was spewed from venomous mouths of Republican politicians sometimes reached 80% of the total message and rarely got below 60% of their sound bites. Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, was the leading hatemonger by far. Note to self: send King’s office an ACORN flag to hang in their waiting room in DC.
The statistics indicate that the Republicans enjoyed Benghazi for a moment and the IRS, which in some ways was just the other side of the coin from ACORN, had a heartbeat for a while, but a careful look at the numbers Bump analyzed from the Sunlight Foundation seem to mainly establish that only Obamacare roused more fire from the Republicans that ACORN, and if not for the healthcare plan, alive or dead, the Republicans were ready to throw down at ACORN at a moment’s notice.
Why? Of course this corresponds with the Republican evangelical gospel that ACORN stole the election for Barack Obama in 2008 and was going to continue to steal all kinds of elections in 2012 and state by state, which is why there was a desperate need to restrict voting with voter IDs and justify all sorts of other malarkey.
Not crazy and not an obsession, but a strategy and a message, as it becomes clearer and clearer over time. Eight states passed restrictive voter measures and three of the eight are in the toss-up category now for control of the U.S. Senate by the Republicans including Georgia and North Carolina. A Tulane University professor, Justin Levitt, looked at all cases of people voting in someone else’s name in all elections in the USA since 2000 and out of a billion votes cast found 31 instances where someone with a fake ID voted for someone else, which is the only thing the voter ID bills can establish, other than intimidating and suppressing overall voting itself.
The Republican strategy was crystal clear. Target ACORN. Blame the organization for everything, and no matter how unsubstantiated the claims, keep people looking at the pea under the ACORN shell, while in a devious sleight of hand you change the voting rules to allow a minority party to win a couple of elections by reducing the pool of potential voters. Get enough haters and whacks like King, Darryl Issa, Michelle Bachmann, and Tea people troops to repeat the mantra of the message, and by the time people figure out the truth, if ever, ACORN is crippled, the voters have been snookered, and the Republicans have won a couple of more seats they needed.
Haters are gonna hate, and ACORN lives in peoples’ hearts and actions so will always rise, but between such cynicism on one hand and the effort to buy elections on the other, how does democracy survive?