In a special commentary at the conclusion of a special Sunday night episode, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow had a message for voters in states where their road to the polls has been obstructed by Republican forces: don’t give up.
“If you are one of those people being forced to stand in those long lines tonight, tomorrow or on election day, honestly, your country needs you to do it,” Maddow said. “Your country needs you to do it not only because it’s your civic responsibility, but also because there are people out there trying to profit politically off of you not doing it. People who are counting on you not having the time or the commitment. People who are trying to profit off of you giving up. It’s gonna be hard to vote this year in a lot of places where it is most important that you vote. Your country needs you to stick it out. No matter who you are voting for, your country needs you to do it.”
The abnormally long lines to vote over the weekend in Florida and Ohio, Maddow said, were a man-made phenomenon on two levels: while they reflect voter enthusiasm, which is good, they are also the result of a GOP philosophy bent on minimizing the number of people who get to cast their ballots, as she demonstrated by playing a clip from a 1980 speech by Heritage Foundation founder and evangelical activist Paul Weyrich.
“They want everybody to vote,” said Weyrich, who died four years ago. “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people — they never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Maddow then connected Weyrich’s argument to voter-suppression tactics in Florida, where it took an emergency lawsuit for early voting to take place over the weekend, and in Ohio, where a GOP official openly expressed disdain for keeping polls open for the benefit of “the urban — read, African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
Ohio, Maddow pointed out, also has an automatic-recount clause that kicks in if the margin of victory in an election is .5 percent or lower, overseen by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has fought to curtail early voting at seemingly every level of the judicial ladder.
And while Maddow called it “inspiring” to see voters willing to stand in line for hours to vote, she said it is also unrealistic to expect the greater electorate to put aside day-to-day concerns for five or six hours to do so.
“It is, frankly, an outrage that there are forces at work in our politics right now that not only make this type of situation possible, but that make it inevitable, that see problems like this and go out of their way to make it worse,” she said. “I’m talking to you, Florida Governor Rick Scott.”
Maddow’s commentary, aired Sunday on MSNBC, can be seen below.