Jim Chrisinger

Voting rights: bipartisan no more

Jim Chrisinger: Today, as in 1965 and in every Voting Rights Act reauthorization vote, Republican senators have to choose.

For more than five decades, voting rights in America enjoyed strong, bipartisan support. Now Republicans have turned their backs.  

The Voting Rights Act originally passed in 1965, led by President Lyndon Johnson, who had built his political career as a get-along go-along ally of Southern segregationists.  

The final vote in the House was 328–74 (Democrats 217–54, Republicans 111–20). The Senate passed it 79–18 (Democrats 49–17, Republicans 30–1). Much of the opposition came from Southern Democrats.  

Bipartisan majorities in Congress reauthorized the act five times, most recently in 2006. The votes were not close. Even Senator Strom Thurmond, famous segregationist and 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate, came to support the Voting Rights Act.  

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Nine asymmetries that define our politics and hurt Democrats

Jim Chrisinger: These asymmetries reinforce each other, tilting the playing field against democracy.  

Traditionally, both major political parties competed with policies aimed at their core constituencies and persuadable voters. The policy platforms differed markedly, but a symmetry framed the fight. 

No more. Nine asymmetries now define our politics and hand the advantage to Republicans.  

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Why Republican messaging rules

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere.

Republicans now enjoy an inherent advantage in messaging, another asymmetry in our politics. Republicans present a mostly negative agenda: they want to reverse social progress and tear down government, media, and truth. To do that, they scare people.  

In contrast, mainstream Democrats want to build; they want to use public policy and resources to advance a broad, progress-based agenda. Republican arguments are simple, blunt, and visceral. Democratic arguments are complex, nuanced, and moral.  

For example:  

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They only have to win once

Jim Chrisinger sounds the alarm about the Republican Party’s efforts in at least fourteen states to rig elections in their favor. -promoted by Laura Belin

The thing is, we who believe in democracy have to win every election. The Trumpers, who don’t believe in democracy, only have to win once. Here’s why.    

Take Georgia for example, a red state trending purple. Democracy held in 2020 because of people like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his staff, and local election officials across the state, most of whom are Republican. They did the right thing.  

But now, juiced by Trump’s Big Lie, the wheels are in motion for a new reality. The Georgia GOP passed a new round of voter suppression against minorities and other Democratic-leaning groups. They are preparing to gerrymander for 2022 and the coming decade. They recently enacted authority for the legislature’s appointees to overturn local election results. Raffensperger, the state’s chief election official, and other officials who faithfully fulfilled their duties in 2020, are being challenged in 2022 by Trumpers who believe the Big Lie.  

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Whitewashing history

Jim Chrisinger: The bottom line from a new law’s whitewash of history appears to be protecting the feelings of white people, particularly white men. -promoted by Laura Belin

Add Iowa to the growing list of GOP-dominated states trying to prevent an honest historical reckoning on race and sex. While attention has focused on race, sex gets equal billing in House File 802, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law on June 8.  


Along with definitions, the law adds three new sections to Iowa code: one for state and local governments, one for public universities, and one for school districts.  

Training in state and local governments and school districts cannot teach or advocate “race or sex scapegoating” or “race or sex stereotyping.”  

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Defend democracy, don't ditch it

Jim Chrisinger: Democracy is the reason the United States of America exists. How is it that so many people don’t find it to be worth defending? -promoted by Laura Belin

Those of us who are hair-on-fire upset about attacks on our democracy are having trouble understanding why others aren’t.  

No question, our democracy is under attack. See voter suppression, gerrymandering, and incoming governors robbed of authority by lame duck legislators. Donald Trump endlessly repeats his Big Lie about the 2020 election to undermine our free and fair elections. To my knowledge, no elected Iowa Republican has pushed back. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans nationally believe Joe Biden did not win legitimately.  

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