Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


The self-blinding brilliance of Jason Lewis

By writing about voter ID without acknowledging key facts, Lewis diminishes his credibility.

Jason Lewis
Jason Lewis

Radio talk genius Jason Lewis provides a tour de force (in his Sunday Strib op-ed) of the wonderful effect of willful self-blindness.

Jason is saddened by the defeat of the voter ID amendment, a defeat he attributes to lies, dirty tactics and the efforts of “massive sums of left-wing money.”

I don’t know if he has his facts right, but for the moment, I’ll stipulate that opponents of the amendment outspent proponents. Is Jason outraged by massive sums of right-wing money such as has been deployed by the Koch brothers, by corporations that have been freed by the Citizens United decision to directly spend their stockholders’ dollars to advance corporate agendas? Will he join the call (which, so far as I can tell, has come almost entirely from lefties) to find some way around that U.S. Supreme Court decision that created the current money-driven politics? If so, I welcome him to the cause.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to read intellectually honest arguments that disagree with my own viewpoint. But the sine qua non of intellectual honesty is to deal straight with the inconvenient facts and arguments. Mr. Lewis comes from the opposite school. Facts that do not fit his arguments simply do not exist.

Article continues after advertisement

So here are a couple of facts, or maybe arguments, that Jason failed to mention.

In almost every instance in recent U.S. state political history, when Republicans take over a state legislature, they pass a law requiring photo ID for voting. The model law on the topic was developed, refined and circulated to Republican legislators by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, tax-exempt organization that develops such model laws, pretty much all of which are laws introduced and supported by conservatives and Republicans and opposed by liberals and Democrats. ALEC runs on money (not “left-wing money”) from corporations and from dues paid by its many state legislator members (almost all conservative Republican legislators).

Proponents of voter ID laws never acknowledge that the likeliest effect of such laws will be to depress the turnout of voters who do not possess photo ID’s and that, as everyone who has ever looked at the issue with even a modicum of intellectual honesty has acknowledged, are disproportionally from segments of the population that tend to skew toward supporting Democrats. That’s a fact.

Let’s call this an inference, rather than a fact: That’s why Republicans support voter ID laws and why Democrats oppose them. If you try to talk about the idea of photo ID for voters without acknowledging these facts and inferences, you are engaging in casuistry, sophistry and either willful self-blindness or make-believe self-blindness.

In his op-ed, Jason adopts the familiar pose of one saddened by the apparent indifference of liberals and Democrats to the problem of voter impersonation. C’mon, man. The election’s over. The DFL has regained control of the Legislature. Voter ID will go away unless and until the Repubs get control back. You should probably find another topic for a while.

But if you most go there, at least acknowledge the basic facts and their most obvious inferences. Yes, Democrats oppose these laws because they do not cotton to the idea of reducing Democratic turnout in all future elections, the same reason that Republicans like the idea.

By writing about this issue without acknowledging that, Lewis only diminishes his credibility.