The recent compromise in Minnesota begs the perpetual lefty question: is the Tea Party’s insistence on certain aggressive policies genius or ignorance? After all, in MN, they insisted that the state require photo ID at polling places to vote — something the courts have consistently held is a tool to repress minority voting, and something the courts have consistently not permitted.
The stock “they’re idiots!” interpretation is that Tea Party members either:
- Don’t know about this history of court rulings
- Don’t believe these rulings apply to them
- Are racist and just don’t care
All of that is possible. In fact, the Tea Party being a large group, I’m confident that at least some of those are true of some members, just as they would be true for any other large group.
But I’m actually not betting on that here; I’m betting on brilliant. When you’re negotiating, it’s always good to know which points are important to you, and which are ones you can compromise on. Sometimes, to get the most leverage, you might throw in some points you would never expect to win on, and then roll over on those points straight away.
Requiring ID at the polls seems like one of those. You can give up on it easily, at the end, because you know it’ll be caught up in the courts for years even if you got it. But the liberals hate the idea, so they’re prepared to fight against it and maybe even give up something meaningful to stop it. And, hey, best-case scenario, it gets passed and the current fairly-conservative Supreme Court finds it’s fine in a state like MN, without a history of discrimination at the polls, or simply denies cert and allows the more-conservative Circuit Court’s interpretation to stand.
So I think it’s brilliant.
The good thing, is that it’s easy to fight tactics like this: just give them the chance to win on it! Let ‘em have that point. In fact, speak in public about how you understand that’s such a big point to the opposition, even though you find it despicable, you’re going to give it to them right now. And then they’re stuck with it. Then they have to give away a negotiating point they might actually have won on.
And there’s two long-term outcomes:
- Turns out requiring IDs at the polls works in the way people expect, is clearly discriminatory, and the courts knock it down
- Turns out requiring IDs at the polls makes no difference in this day and age, and things are fine
Heck, you’ll know in one election, when you compare the racial breakdown of the exit poling data. Sure it’s a little risky medium-term, but it’s got short- and long-term benefits, and why not play the long game? I have the feeling the Tea Party is!