You know how one political party (out of two) is systematically setting the stage to undemocratically destroy voting rights, specifically the rights of those people (the not-white ones) who overwhelmingly sent Donald Trump packing in 2020? John Oliver sure does, as his Sunday main story saw the Last Week Tonight host delving into the Republican war on voting rights. Honestly, as Oliver proved in acidly funny lockstep, it really isn’t necessary to do any delving, as GOP hypocrisy, fringe conspiracy logic, and outright racial oppression at the voting booth is just lying all out in the open.
You know, like in Georgia, which is represented by one Burt Jones, seen in a clip asserting that voting is a privilege that certain people should have to really work for. (Possibly by overcoming the state closing polling places in non-white areas and then forbidding good samaritans from handing out water to the Black people stuck in eight-hour voting lines in the Georgia heat.) Or in Arizona, where, just this week, even the Republican-led, farcically shady “audit” of Joe Biden’s presidential victory there not only proved what every rational human being knew already, but also made Biden’s margin over GOP cult leader and twice-impeached seditionist Donald Trump just a hair wider. (Oh, don’t worry, Republicans are still recommending further voting restrictions to fix the non-existent voter fraud problem they themselves showed doesn’t exist.)
In all, Oliver showed how some 18 states have passed 30 laws since the 2020 Democratic, voter-approved takeover of the presidency, House, and Senate, and that—strangely—every single one of those laws intended to make it harder for certain people to vote was spearheaded by the Republican Party. Oh, and that the GOP’s furthest-right lobbying wing, the Heritage Foundation, is just as busy undermining American democracy, as Oliver showed a Heritage executive (one Jessica Anderson) bragging about those kooky, woman- and gay-hating white supremacists managing to slip through some Iowa voting suppression laws (which Heritage wrote) without anybody noticing. You know, like with all truly fair and vetted democratic policies.
Oliver, as is his way, made time throughout his concise history of Republican voter suppression and outright racist bullshit to go on some theoretically illustrative tangents involving unusual sexual practices. (No kink-shaming, those currently fantasizing about either the Wheel Of Fortune wheel or lobsters.) Painting a starkly chilling portrait of how the current Republican Party is ginning up solutions for a problem it itself manufactured, Oliver summed up this in-progress, democracy-threatening authoritarianism thusly: “Use bullshit claims to stir up baseless fear to pass unnecessary restrictions to target particular groups.”
Showing Texas Lt. Governor and major asshole Dan Patrick using the legally un-actionable fuzzy logic that GOP voter suppression tactics are necessary because “voters have lost faith” in an election system Patrick himself has been working overtime to slander and undermine ever since the Republicans’ Glorious Leader appeared ready to loose bigly on Election Night, Oliver let Patrick’s nonsense hang itself. Although Oliver did note that Patrick’s showboating stunt offering a Texas-style $1 million bounty for every provable instance of voter fraud has seen the bloviating Texas lieutenant liar dodge fellow Lt. Gov John Fetterman’s call for the cash, having offered up the case of a Pennsylvania Trump voters trying to vote for their dead moms. Who are no doubt very disappointed in them.
As for solutions, Oliver, as ever, had sort of a good news-bad news thing going. There are two proposed laws (the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act) that would, between them, halt this Republican campaign of partisan ratfuckery by ensuring everything from early and drive-up voting, to automatic voter registration, to making Election Day a national holiday. And would restore the key tenets of the Supreme Court-gutted, racist-thwarting 1965 Voting Rights Act, something shown as deeply necessary in how GOP legislators keep trying to procedurally ban any talk of racism from the debate over their 100 percent racist voter suppression. In this week’s example of representative villainy, Oliver showed Representative Travis Grantham (R-AZ) telling Black lawmaker Reginald Bolding to, almost verbatim, “sit down and shut up” when Bolding brought up how the Arizona GOP’s proposed laws are blatantly intended to disenfranchise voters of color. (Oh, Grantham used the words “colored people” in his rant, just for some of that old-timey racist flavor.)
On the other hand, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised that his GOP minions will filibuster any bill intended to make it harder for them to suppress votes among those communities (not-white ones) where they know they’re shit out of luck, historically and increasingly. And while Oliver threw shade at Democratic(-ish) Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) for saying he’d join his Republican pals in robbing certain people of their voting rights, the host also told the other Joe (Biden) that his folksy entreaty for people to just “out-organize” this out-in-the-open racist rigging is woefully out of touch with just how determined the GOP is to steal elections. Showing Biden praising Americans for turning out in record numbers (during a pandemic, no less) to make sure Donald Trump wound up on unemployed and making paid appearances for sketchy cults, Oliver noted in exasperation that that doesn’t cut it when Republicans are trying to shut out those very voters. Seriously, Joe.