As Senate Democrats advanced the For the People Act, Republican opponents turned to a series of rather predictable talking points. GOP critics said, for example, that the effort represented a "federal power-grab," which made a degree of sense since the legislation would curtail state-level schemes to undermine democracy. Other Republicans complained that the bill is "partisan," which was really just a lazy way of saying GOP politicians don't like it.
But the most unnerving talking point came, once again, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell accused bill proponents of misconstruing election laws in Georgia and other states to justify a federal proposal he described as unnecessary. "The biggest lie being told in American politics in recent weeks has been that the states are involved in a systematic effort to suppress the vote," the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday.
If this sounds at all familiar, it's because McConnell pushed the same line in March, telling reporters, "States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever."
All things considered, the word "gaslighting" is probably used a bit too much in our political discourse, but for the Senate GOP leader to justify the Republican Party's voter-suppression initiative by denying its existence is a classic example of the phenomenon.
This isn't a matter of subjectivity. As regular readers may recall, FiveThirtyEight recently published a striking tally, noting that while much of the country learned of Georgia's new voting restrictions, it's just one of 11 states in which Republicans have acted this year to make it harder for Americans to cast ballots.
...Georgia is hardly the only state that's made it harder to vote this year. Republican lawmakers have now enacted new voting restrictions in a total of 11 states — Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
Relying in part on data from the Brennan Center for Justice, FiveThirtyEight reported that "at least 404 voting-restriction bills have now been introduced in 48 state legislatures." Many of those proposals will go ignored, but plenty will not: FiveThirtyEight's report highlighted 25 voter-suppression bills that have already become law this year -- and there are still several dozen related measures pending in states where Republicans have some power.
Indeed, just yesterday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special legislative session with the express goal of approving an odious new voter-suppression bill.
And yet, there was Mitch McConnell, telling reporters with a straight face yesterday, "The biggest lie being told in American politics in recent weeks has been that the states are involved in a systematic effort to suppress the vote," despite the fact that Republicans in states nationwide are involved in a systematic effort to suppress the vote.
It's rare to see a don't-believe-your-lying-eyes moment this brazen.