Not only does the Republican Party waste time and energy focusing on a couple of nonexistent problems (during a time when the country faces a lot of ‘real’ problems); they are also disenfranchising millions of voters while treating them as second-class citizens. So what ‘problems’ am I referring to? Specifically, required drug testing for welfare recipients, and recently drafted voter ID laws.
Red states across the country are doing their best to enact both of these types of laws. First, there is the issue of mandatory drug testing for those on welfare. There are a few reasons why my Republican friends should be against this law. For all the Ron Paul enthusiasts and strict Constitutionalists – the law is a breach of privacy, an overreach in government’s power. A lower Florida Court said it was unconstitutional because it deemed it an ‘unreasonable search,’ which violates the 4th Amendment.
Now, to my fiscally conservative Republicans, the law doesn’t make fiscal sense! Florida, one of the first states to implement drug tests, lost money on the program. Why? Well only 2.6 percent of recipients failed the test. The other 97.4 percent passed and were reimbursed for the cost of the drug test. Those reimbursements cost the state close to $120,000, far exceeding the benefits the state would have had to pay out.
The larger issue here is not that the party who claims to be fiscally responsible is perpetually proposing fiscally irresponsible laws, or that the party who believes they write laws with the endorsement of our Founders is enacting laws that are unconstitutional, no, the bigger issue is Republicans created this law to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. They want us to believe it is to protect taxpayers’ money, but it is just an attack on a group of people they do not like. It is an attack on a group of people who they see as the problem. Republicans view those on welfare as a drain to the economy, and a black eye to society in general. Although it takes up a small percentage of the government’s budget, Republicans want us to believe it is the welfare system that is bankrupting the country.
This may seem cynical on my part, but I think their new objective to create stricter voter ID laws only reinforces this view. Let’s start with this – voter fraud is not a problem. Voter fraud that would be solved by stricter ID laws is even less of a problem. The rampant voter fraud Republicans want us to believe is going on is a myth. In Florida, where they are trying to implement harsher voter ID laws, there are more shark attacks per year than cases of voter fraud. It is simply a problem that does not exist, but Republicans have continued writing these laws because the laws go after groups of people they do not like; people who vote Democrat.
Back in 2008, when Republicans lost the Presidency they realized they lost by very small margins in a few swing states. Well, one way to swing those margins in their favor is to prevent people who vote Democrat from voting. It just so happens the voter ID laws being proposed by Republicans will adversely affect black and minority voters – a typically strong base for Democrats. You’ll notice these laws don’t try to reform absentee voting because the majority who vote by absentee ballots are Republicans. Still not convinced? The voter ID law being proposed in Texas says a gun license is an acceptable form of identification but a college ID is not. Must just be a happy coincidence that gun owners tend to vote Republican and college students tend to sway left.
Republicans frame their argument for these voter ID laws as upholding the sanctity of democracy. What they are really trying to do is systematically create their own democracy, one which works to their advantage. Both of these laws are to antagonize a base of the Democratic Party Republicans do not like. They serve no purpose but to prevent Democratic citizens from voting, and demean them as humans. Instead of tackling real issues, Republicans are creating problems that are in accordance with their ideological worldview.