Thursday, May 15, 2014

The problem with voter ID laws is that they don’t make it hard enough to vote

Matt Walsh writes:

It’s everyone’s favorite form of irony – the one where you reveal your own prejudice by calling someone else prejudiced.

It usually looks like this:

Person A: “Man, I really dislike it when people murder their pet hamsters!”

Person B: “Hey! Why do you hate Australians?”

In this realistic example, Person A has expressed a general anti-hamster-killing sentiment, which Person B interprets as a verbal assault on the people of Australia. In so doing, Person B has exposed his own disturbing belief that Aussies are particularly inclined to slaughter innocent hamsters, which makes any anti-hamster-murder statement a direct attack against anyone of Australian descent. You may make light of the fact that your examples always tend to be so far removed from reality as to be nonsensical... yet it demonstrates how little you value historical and social context in analyzing these discussions.

Next thing you know, we can’t even make laws to protect hamsters because the legislation would be seen as discriminatory against a group of people who, if you asked them, probably aren’t particularly pleased about being unfairly associated with the mass genocide of domesticated rodents. That is until, after a while, even Australians begin to believe that crushing hamsters must be an integral part of their heritage and culture, as everyone else keeps insisting is the case.

This is all just an unnecessarily bizarre way of illustrating how progressives tend to argue their point. They take some illegal, illogical, unethical, or morally repugnant act, and confidently declare that act to be universally sacred amongst an entire racial, ethnic, or gender group — often to the protest of many in the group itself. Suddenly, those who disagree with their ideas are automatically in disagreement with the very existence of whatever demographic progressives have deemed as inherently opposed to decency and virtue. Nope, I'm pretty sure that is not what they argue. Try again.

Hence, for example, if you argue in favor of protecting the unborn, you are ‘against women,’ even though many women are pro-life.  No, specifically what those people say is you are "against women's right to choose." Regardless of whether you agree with it, there is more to that whole argument than just simply assuming most women are pro-choice or that all women get abortions. You can’t argue in favor of protecting the border without being ‘anti-Hispanic,’ even though many Hispanics understand the importance of immigration laws (which is why they have very strict ones in their own countries). Usually the response to that argument has more to do with how deportation tears families apart and stuff, but whatever. On another note, it's funny how often I mention the undocumented immigrants in my family in response to anti-immigrant comments, and get the reply, "That's okay. They're not Mexican." Seriously. I believe that a certain number of people who are in a big tizzy about immigrants are motivated by ideas about racial purity only because I have heard so many people be very explicit about it. And also, because it contradicts the free market ideology (which necessitates a free labor market) that conservative-minded people generally tend to support. And because their fears seem to be unrelated to any evidence whatsoever - for example, their fears seem not to be allayed by the fact that immigration from Mexico has been dropping precipitously. Also, if you're going to bring up what many Latinos think about immigration, you should look at their views about American immigration laws; because then you'll see that many of them are, in fact, on the same side as the Progressives you abhor.  If you criticize the Welfare State you are racist against blacks, even though many black people have never been on welfare. In this example, what I generally hear argued is facts and stats about why welfare is important. It is when opponents of welfare, all on their own accord without any prompting (much like the supporters of harsh immigration laws) invoke racial imagery and stereotypes, that other people start to think they are racist. Once again, it is only because opponents of welfare often (though by no means always) make racist comments while they are attacking welfare, that other people believe their concerns about welfare are racially motivated.

It is an ugly and derogatory picture they paint. In the Progressive World, women are inherently interested in killing their children no!, Hispanics are genetically predisposed towards open border anarchism no!, and black people are naturally dependent upon the redistributive schemes of white liberal politicians. Are you kidding me? Do you ever really listen to anyone who doesn't share your political views? (I know, I know, I have to keep reminding myself that you are saying extreme and idiotic things to get page views and to make money...)

This is not my view — this is their view. No. In fact, if it's likely to be anyone's view at all, it would be extremely racist/sexist people who wouldn't even pretend to be liberal. It’s belittling, dishonest, demeaning, and, most of all, bigoted. That’s why the white liberal man is such a difficult creature to tolerate. He sits atop his perch, feeling quite proud and magnanimous in his position as White Savior to these women who can’t be expected to refrain from killing their children, and these ethnic minorities who can’t be expected to follow the law or take care of themselves or get into college on their own merits.  So, in your view, these Progressives are white men? No significant number of women and people of color? Because if women and people of color make up a good number of the Liberals you are attacking (people who make certain types of arguments about abortion, immigration, and welfare) then that would kind of undermine your claim that it is all some sort of  bigoted White Savoir thing, right?

Now, with this in mind, we understand why racist white liberals have decreed that black people don’t know how to obtain a driver’s license, and anyone who thinks a driver’s license ought to be required for voting must be involved in a nefarious conspiracy to suppress the black vote. [And, in Matt Walsh's mind, opposition to voter ID laws is purely the agenda of white liberals, and not at all something that many black people are opposed to, for the exact same reasons.] Actually, Matt, I do not believe that any voter ID opponent ever at any point has argued that black people don't know how to obtain a driver's license. In fact, to them, it seems the cause of this reality is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that the people impacted would very disproportionately be the very same people whose votes were suppressed throughout American history by a variety (some blatant, some more subtle) of means.

Voter ID laws are racist, they claim. To ask people to produce a photo identification before voting is a ‘step toward Jim Crow laws.’

They’ve made this enormously stupid argument so many times, that even guys like Rand Paul have been scared away from protecting the integrity of the voting process. We wouldn’t want to “offend,” he says.

The anti-Voter ID folks will point out that a minority person – particularly a minority woman –  is statistically less likely to have an ID than a white dude. This might be true, but it’s irrelevant. Whatever the requirement, in whatever situation, there’s always going to be some group statistically less likely to meet it. By progressive logic, every requirement is therefore prejudiced and ethnocentric

No, you are absolutely wrong. This where history and social context (those things that you so love to ignore) come into play. People deem requirements prejudiced only when there is tons of evidence that they reflect the continuation of a long history of barring said group from some social institution, or some aspect of civil society. Like, when the requirements are not necessary, and there has been more than a hundred years of different sorts of requirements being enacted that affect that same group of people, for the express purpose of disenfranchising them, and when formerly that group of people was treated as sub-human and barred by law from participating in most facets of society.
Your grandmother is statistically more likely to drive the speed limit than I am, but that doesn’t mean speed limit laws are an evil plot against me. Because there are no historical or social circumstances to suggest that anyone systematically benefits from giving you (and you in particular) speeding tickets. Sorry Matt, your examples are consistently terrible.

Now, if there ever were a law that assigned a DIFFERENT speed limit to me, or a different speed limit to 27-year-old middle class white dudes in general, then I’d have a case. But, as it stands, we all are under the same tyrannical thumb of the same tyrannical speed limits, which means, by definition, they don’t discriminate.

Of course, this is a difficult concept for many to understand because we live in a country that views equality under the law as some kind of reverse psychology ploy. What does this statement even mean? That’s why we end up with people who support things like Affirmative Action, and don’t support things like protecting against voter fraud.

Listen. The reason why some people might not be so concerned about protecting against voter fraud is because it so rarely happens! It is so statistically insignificant that there is no conceivable reason why anyone should get that passionate about it, if not for other motives.

I suppose this all academic I don't know why you are so concerned that things you discuss might be academic, as I’m not convinced that the People Without ID category actually exists. I don’t care what the polling data tells me. I simply can’t understand how anyone between the ages of 18 and approximately 112 could possibly function in modern society without a form of photo identification. This certainly isn’t a positive dynamic, but it’s the reality nonetheless. [Matt Walsh argument: they don't exist! No they do exist; it's reality.]  See, going back to that previous conversation about Why Do People Complain About Me Commenting On Certain Subjects?  - this is an instance where you, as a white man with a particular background, seriously lack the knowledge necessary to make any insightful comments on this topic. Oh, you can't understand why anyone wouldn't have an ID? Well, that must mean that there could be no valid reason for this reality. Let's call it a day. No need to understand the perspectives of the type of people who might be or are in this situation. They are clearly worthless vermin who don't deserve a voice anyway. 

Instead of worrying that an adult without an ID will be barred from voting, let’s worry about the fact that this is an adult who can’t legally drive, buy a car, rent a car, rent an apartment, buy a house, get on an airplane, get married, purchase a gun, purchase alcohol, purchase cigarettes, pick up a prescription you do not need an ID to pick up a prescription, purchase cough medicine at the supermarket, apply for a job you do not need an ID to apply for a job, apply for food stamps, open a bank account, purchase automobile insurance you do not need an ID to purchase car insurance, or do any number of other things that most adults do on a daily basis. Unfortunately, worrying about this would entail contemplating the devastating impact that poverty has on people's lives, having compassion on poor people, and seeking systemic changes to combat poverty (the last of which, I know, you are utterly against).

If we’re going to start cutting back on ID requirements, let’s first stop asking the potbellied, balding, bearded fellow to show his license for a pack of Coors, before we worry about relieving the burden from the Latino guy with a thick accent who has to so unjustly prove he’s a legal citizen before participating in our elections. See Matt - you're the one randomly bringing racial stereotypes into this conversation (thus, legitimizing any accusations concerning your attitudes about race). Who says that the very few cases of voter fraud are committed by undocumented Latino immigrants (who, by the way, have very thick accents)? Perhaps that's your fantasy (or fear). This is the reality.

But that’s not to say that I support voter ID because I’m worried about voter fraud. Based on the evidence (e.g. see link above) you have no reason to be worried about voter fraud. I mean, I am worried about voter fraud, but that isn’t the primary reason I stand in favor. I’m in favor of voter ID because it takes a small, insignificant measure of effort to obtain an ID, and I believe that voting should probably involve a small, insignificant measure of effort. Doesn't taking time off work and driving to the local elementary school represent a small, insignificant amount of effort? Why do we need to add on other things? And why specifically an ID? It really doesn't take that much effort to buy a slinky, so if effort is what really counts, why don't we make slinkies a requirement for voting?

In fact, if I had my way, you’d need to produce much more than a license to vote. You’d have to pass an elementary level civics test and then identify by name, at the very least, the Secretary of State, the Vice President, and the Speaker of the House. Next you’d be quizzed on a few current events. Finally, all votes would be cast in essay form. You’d be asked for your choice, and then 6 sentences explaining why you made that choice. There would be no wrong answer, as long as you have an answer. People who cannot even articulate the reasoning behind their vote don’t deserve to vote in the first place.  You assume that people who are not literate, or even those who cannot express themselves well in writing, are necessarily incapable of understanding important things about the world they live in, and what changes are necessary to improve it.  Following Emancipation most African Americans were illiterate, but they sure as heck were aware of the social/political environment.

Also, who gets to determine what these standards are? Because if I were setting standards (not that I agree with this practice at all) you would not be able to vote, Matt. Your inability to logically order your thoughts, your propensity to mindlessly parrot partisan talking points without really listening to all sides of the debate, your lack of knowledge concerning significant chunks of American history and society (e.g. the Civil Rights Movement), and your lack of practical knowledge (what is needed to get a prescription filled or fill out a job application) would render you not fit to contribute to important decision-making.

I imagine these easy tests would disqualify about half of the people who show up on election day, sending our voter turnout numbers plummeting into the basement. And that, my friends, would be a wonderful day in the Republic.  I will just let this paragraph stand for itself, without comment.

See, we worry about “voter fraud,” when “voter ignorance” and “voter apathy” and “voter just showed up to get an ‘I voted’ sticker” are much greater threats to the integrity of our democratic process.  Wait, so now you are arguing that voter fraud really isn't that big of a deal? I'm confused. (By the way, do you know anyone who has gone to vote only to get a sticker, or are you making that up?)

The system isn’t rigged. It doesn’t have to be. The Powers That Be know that, you, the Rare Informed Voter, are a disastrous threat to their dominion over us. They WOULD rig the voting system if Informed Voters were the only ones turning out. But that isn’t the case. Instead, they drown your vote in a sea of obliviousness by towing in truckloads of nincompoops, who pour into the polling places and proudly push random buttons, rendering your thoughtful, knowledge-based votes moot.   Actually, The Powers That Be who set up the election process were terrified of the "lowly masses," and created the electoral college as a safeguard. But more importantly, if these are your real beliefs, I am having a hard time understanding your view of society.  So, first of all, most people are stupid. Humans are, on the whole, stupid. (Nevermind the feats of collective ingenuity that allowed humans to adapt to virtually every environment on earth...) But also, stupid people just so happen to vote all alike, and exactly in alignment with the interests of the elites, so the elites can sit pretty. Therefore, stupid people should not be allowed to vote. But if stupid people didn't vote, the elites would just rig the system anyway.

We act as though voting is this Mystical Rite in which we all must partake; the health of our nation rests on our ability to shovel as many warm bodies into the voting booth as possible. The reality, of course, is the exact opposite. Voting is a tool, not a sacrament. We use it to select the people who will pass laws and make important decisions. There’s nothing inherently virtuous about taking part in that task just for the sake of it. Take part if you have something useful and constructive to contribute. Otherwise, stay home, for the good of the nation.

Voting is also not an insoluble constitutional right. The constitution guarantees, as well it should, that you can’t be denied the vote based on race or gender, but it never says anything about being denied based on lack of effort or understanding. After all, many states disqualify people from voting, or restrict their voting rights, for other reasons. Notably, in many places ex-cons are either permanently barred, or temporarily prohibited, from voting.  Yeah, that's a racial issue as well - one that has already been taken up by civil rights activists.

Maybe, in a sane society, we’d stop indiscriminately eliminating the voting rights of felons, and start discriminately eliminating the voting rights of fools.   Well, we tried eliminating the reproductive rights of fools (via forced sterilization) but it turned out that we defined "fools" as black, Native American, Puerto Rican, and poor.

But these are pipe dreams, I realize. Thank God.

Our politicians would never go for a plan like this. You really think politicians are the ultimate powers here? Who do you think gives them the buttloads of money that they need to win elections?

They have a vested interest in encouraging people who don’t understand the process to participate in the process. Ignorance is the most trusty tool of their trade.

Pretty soon, I imagine, you won’t even have to leave your house to vote. It will be so easy and accessible, you can simply walk outside and shout a name into the heavens. An NSA satellite will detect and tabulate your selection. But maybe even that’s too much to ask of our fellow citizens. Perhaps, one day, we can shuffle to the window in our pajamas and let out an unintelligible grunt, and the NSA satellites will interpret our mutterings for us.

It will be perfect. One hundred percent voter participation. Zero percent voter comprehension or effort.

And the best part is that nobody will have to show an ID.
So, here's a recap if you need one. Matt Walsh attempts to address the views of Progressives concerning voter ID laws (via their response to the arguments of those who support the laws - because, of course, Progressives have thoughts only in reaction to conservative beliefs; they have no cognitive framework of their own). However, Matt completely neglects to address any of the real arguments that are frequently made by those who oppose the laws (namely, the infrequency of voter fraud, the history of trying to suppress the black vote). Instead, Matt Walsh says that people who oppose voter ID laws are white men who think that black people are too inept to get IDs.  And also, most people are really stupid, so really we should prevent a majority of people in this country from voting. 



  1. Please keep doing these, I'm enjoying it very much. I hate this Matt Walsh tool, and get tired of seeing him all over my facebook feed.

  2. I want to offer my sincere gratitude to you for taking the time to write these posts. I just recently stumbled upon Matt Walsh's hateful, poorly written and researched blog. I was surprised to see how many people read his dribble and, based on the comments, totally agree with and take as fact all the crap he expounds. I soon found this blog and really enjoy your insights and that you take the time out of your day to respond to a purveyor of hate. Please keep it up!