David Frum on Republican Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering as Political Strategy

@PeterBeinart and @DavidFrum both have excellent political articles in the upcoming issue of The Atlantic. Beinart’s pieces deal with the U.S. moving left, thanks in large part to demographic change and changing attitudes of millennials. (More on the changing demographics and the role of Latinos in Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the NYT magazine.)

Frum’s piece deals with the rise of Trump voters, and how hard it will be for Republicans to put together a winning coalition for president even as they have success in many states. The Republican donor class is disconnected from its core voters. Near the end of Frum’s piece, he goes through four strategies for Republican resurgence. (1) Double down on the message of the Republican donor class; (2) tactically concede to things like the anti-immigrant sentiment of rank-and-file Republican voters (3) true reform which moves the party to a position to capture a majority of voters; or (4) what Frum calls “Change the Rules of the Game.” On this fourth one he writes:

There are metrics, after all, by which the post-2009 GOP appears to be a supremely successful political party. Recently, Rory Cooper, of the communications firm Purple Strategies, tallied a net gain to the Republicans of 69 seats in the House of Representatives, 13 seats in the Senate, 900-plus seats in state legislatures, and 12 governorships since Obama took office. With that kind of grip on state government, in particular, Republicans are well positioned to write election and voting rules that sustain their hold on the national legislature. The president may be able to grant formerly illegal immigrants the right to work, but he cannot grant them the right to vote. In this light, instead of revising Republican policies to stop future Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons, maybe it’s necessary to revise only the party rules to stop future Donald Trumps from confronting party elites with their own unpopularity.

(My emphasis.)

Frum appears to be thinking more about party rules to stop insurgent candidacies like Trump’s, but the strategy seems more about the Republican party has already been doing in places like Wisconsin and Texas: making it harder for those likely to vote for Democrats to register and vote, and engage in aggressive gerrymandering of districts.


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