Opinion: Democracy — With Big Brother in the Voting Booth

Some Americans believe in small government — until they don’t.

Remember the conservative mantra, “government is the problem?” Well, toss out that way of thinking for a group of leaders — some elected, some appointed — who want to create a complicated new arm of government bureaucracy, one that reaches into how and how often a person votes and sucks up a chunk of your Social Security number for good measure. And we’re paying for this?

Some Americans believe in small government — until they don’t. Remember the conservative mantra, “government is the problem?” Well, toss out that way of thinking for a group of leaders — some elected, some appointed — who want to create a complicated new arm of government bureaucracy, one that reaches into how and how often a person votes and sucks up a chunk of your Social Security number for good measure. And we’re paying for this?

North Carolina Republicans try — despite themselves — to win minority voters

In North Carolina, Republicans see a prime opportunity for a U.S. Senate win in November. So national and state party leaders, anxious to broaden the base, are again turning to African American voters. The latest effort is a North Carolina Black Advisory Board “to strengthen the party’s ties with diverse communities and expand engagement efforts across the state,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement Thursday.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said of the 11 board members, “Their knowledge and roots in black communities across the state will be invaluable as we share our message of empowerment and expanding access to the American Dream.”

They have their work cut out for them.

Holder Determined to Challenge Voter-Suppression Laws

North Carolina went from being the model of a voter-friendly state to the poster child for voting restrictions, in one session of a Republican-dominated state legislature.

 Now, the battle over sweeping new laws passed this year is in the courts, with challenges from the Justice Department and civil rights groups, with crucial midterm elections on the line and the country watching.

North Carolina GOP tries to take advantage of Voting Rights Act ruling

In North Carolina, the Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act meant full speed ahead for proponents of new voter-ID laws – at least that was the word last week. Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, who had called requirements for federal pre-clearance before voting changes “legal headaches,” said in reports that the court’s ruling “should speed things along greatly.”

Then on Monday, Apodaca said debate on the legislation requiring photo identification to vote in person in North Carolina would be put on hold for a week because Republicans are still working on it, according to the Associated Press.

As a continuing backdrop to the legislative back and forth, this week the state capital of Raleigh saw another headline-making weekly demonstration.

J.C. Watts on GOP minority outreach: ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’

J.C. Watts, one of the stars the North Carolina Republican Party convention crowd in Charlotte, N.C., came to hear and take pictures with on Friday night, talked about his own dissatisfaction with the general GOP minority outreach effort. “The key is to put teeth in it and to be real about it,” he told me. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Watts, a former Republican U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma and now a columnist and consultant based in Washington, D.C., continues to be a symbol and ambassador for African-American GOP success.

Artur Davis – Democrat turned GOP stalwart – has a plan for Republicans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On the announcement, his picture was squeezed between images of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, former presidents the GOP can get behind. Artur Davis was in North Carolina, where Republicans rule in the state house and legislature. It’s a place where the party that is suffering setbacks elsewhere could relax for a triumphant evening. At least, that’s what I think the folks at the 2013 MeckGOP Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner were doing Saturday night. Luckily, before the closed-press event, featured speaker Davis previewed his remarks and why his inclusive message matters to the GOP’s future.

“I think the conservatives have to understand that we’ve got to talk about not just the government we want to repeal but how we’re going to make the government that exists work better,” Davis told me. As the parties spar over sequester, appointments and more, it seemed a timely message.

The GOP on its minority problem: Don’t call it ‘outreach,’ but ‘engagement’

In a come-to-Jesus moment at the RNC winter meeting in Charlotte, the message was: Republicans cannot scare people and expect to win; Republicans have to invite people and include people and that’s how you win.