David Brooks at Year’s End: The GOP ‘Has Slid Down the Toilet’ on Voting Rights

On the last Friday night Week in Politics panel of 2021, the PBS NewsHour once again chose the topic that Democrats want to talk about right now: New laws restricting the massive COVID-era looseness on mail-in and absentee voting. Once again, the Republicans are so horrible that New York Times columnist David Brooks — the alleged moderate Republican-leaning regular of this group — said the GOP is “a party that has slid down the toilet.”

And PBS likes to promote itself as your channel for civil discourse!

Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart hit all the usual panic notes about Democracy Dying in Darkness, and then the host turned to Brooks:

AMNA NAWAZ: David, what about that? I mean, the big lie, the idea of the election was stolen, that is still pushed by arguably the most influential person in the Republican Party. And that is Donald Trump. And it is not forcefully denounced by many leaders. So, in a two-party system, if one party is messaging things that undermine those foundational parts of democracy, can the system hold?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, so it’s an open question. If you had gone back to Republicans in 2015 and told them what Republicans would be doing in 2021, they would be shocked. And so this is a party that has slid down the toilet. I don’t know how else to say it. (Capehart giggles.)

And so that is a real problem. My alarm is — I cut Jonathan’s alarm in half just on this voting rights issue. The Republicans are trying to restrict voting. Given the history of our country, that reeks. That just reeks.

Brooks is the “moderate” here by acknowledging what the media usually skips right over, which is voter-ID laws are popular (even if he won’t suggest it’s sketchy for Democrats to want to avoid voter ID requirements.)

BROOKS: Some of the things they’re going to do, like voter ID laws, are phenomenally popular. Eighty percent of Americans support them. But then the crucial thing to be said about the restrictions on the voting is that voting restrictions don’t restrict voting.

This has been studied. And we have talked about this in the show in the past. Over and over again, by academics, they find, when states tighten voting restrictions, voter turnout is the same. When they loosen voting restrictions, turnout is the same. Voters vote.

And so I’m less alarmed by that than the second thing that Jonathan said, which is the state legislatures taking over after the votes are counted. And for that to be really problematic, it would have to happen in a purple state. There would have to be a Republican state legislature powerful enough to basically politicize the system in the sort of state Joe Biden would carry. If they do that, then we have a real problem in our democracy.

Nawaz then turned to the leftist Brennan Center — as all partisan liberals do — for overall numbers on how many states are considering how many laws changing the voting rules. The left-wing media presume that all Republican proposals are nefariously racist and undemocratic. 

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