Our own side, sounding strange: What follows isn’t exactly about the press. It’s about the way the liberal world can perhaps sometimes sound strange to pretty much everyone else.
(To ponder the general principle, read this report about declining ratings at MSNBC. For better or worse, we the dogs don’t seem to be gulping the dog food at this time.)
This isn’t about what approach would be best in some particular situation—in this case, with respect to early voting in the state of Ohio. It’s about the way certain kinds of “liberal thinking” can possibly seem quite strange.
In yesterday's New York Times, Adam Liptak reported about new voting rules in Ohio. More specifically, he reported that the Supreme Court has allowed Ohio to proceed with fewer early voting days—with 28 early voting days as opposed to 35.
We’re not saying that Liptak provides a perfect account of the situation. But we were struck by the oddness, and the condescension, coming from a liberal player cited in this passage:
LIPTAK (9/30/14): The ruling, which reflected a partisan breakdown in many court decisions nationwide on voting issues, saw the five Republican-appointed justices uphold the voting restrictions enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature in February. The new limits removed the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early voting period, in the process eliminating the only week that permitted same-day registration, a feature most often used by minorities.Under the new arrangement, Ohio will have 28 days of early voting, instead of the previous 35. Ohio voters will be able to vote by mail throughout this entire period.
Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ordered officials in Ohio to let voters start casting ballots on Tuesday. The panel reasoned that cutting back on early voting at polling places placed a disproportionate burden on poor and black voters.
The panel said it was mindful that Ohio allows voting by mail throughout the contested period. “The presence of vote by mail undoubtedly ameliorates some of the burdens on voting,” Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the panel. But she added that “African-Americans, lower-income individuals and the homeless are distrustful of the mail” or “would prefer to vote in person for unrelated reasons.”
You might feel that 35 days would be better than 28. It’s also true that Ohio’s one week of same-day registration has been eliminated under the new procedures. Beyond that, there will only be one day of Sunday voting.
Still, did we mention the fact that there will be 28 days of early voting? That voting-by-mail will be in effect the whole time?
To many people, that will sound like a whole lot of early voting! Meanwhile, what did Judge Moore write when she ruled that this plan was constitutionally unacceptable? According to Liptak, she wrote this:
“African-Americans...are distrustful of the mail.” For that reason, such voters need 35 early voting days, not a mere 28.
Judge Moore may be working from some narrow understanding of her legal responsibility here. At one point, Liptak semi-explains.
Still: As liberals, do we have any idea how absurd that quoted statement will sound to the vast bulk of American voters? Do we have any idea how absurd (and paternalistic) that statement actually is?
People like Moore have always been masters at making the public believe that liberals are a bunch of ludicrous kooks. MSNBC’s ratings are down. Might we possibly maybe give this a name?
Might we call it The Judge Moore Effect?