An NC GOP leader embarrases himself and his party on 'The Daily Show'

October 25, 2013 

The sad thing is, it’s likely that many of his fellow Republican leaders in North Carolina were in full agreement with Buncombe County precinct chairman Don Yelton that the voter ID law passed by the GOP-run General Assembly was designed to “kick Democrats in the butt.”

Yelton is no longer a precinct chairman thanks to his appalling performance on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central on Wednesday night. His comments pulled back the curtain of weak justifications for the law, and there stood Republicans, like the emperor, without a stitch on.

While they cobbled together the voter ID law – similar measures passed other Republican states after a Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the Voting Rights Act – state GOP leaders kept talking about the need to prevent voter fraud. That motivation was little more than a smokescreen. Voter fraud hadn’t been a problem, and Republicans knew it.

But they combined their voter ID objective with curbs on early voting and straight-ticket voting, all designed to reduce Democratic votes. Then they insulted the public’s intelligence by claiming it was all about the “integrity” of the voting process.

The questions put to Yelton were, how much voter fraud is there in Buncombe County? One or two votes out of 60,000. Is this discrimination against black voters? Why, Yelton said, one of his best friends is black, although Yelton did acknowledge he’d been called a bigot.

Of course, it wasn’t just Democrats the law was after, Yelton said. Nope, he also included college kids who didn’t want to go to much trouble to vote and “lazy blacks who want the government to give ’em everything.”

Wow.

North Carolina’s voter ID law and other miscues by the Republican-led legislature already have landed the state on “The Daily Show” and others, and that’s been embarrassing enough, but Yelton managed to top them all. That’s pretty ironic given that his fellow Republican, Gov. Pat McCrory, campaigned twice for governor on the need to fix broken government and repair the state’s image, so tarnished by those unethical Democrats.

The Republicans in charge of the General Assembly have fought for an agenda that is almost entirely negative, if not at times angry. They’ve attacked public school teachers. They’ve hit state employees. They’ve tried to curb preschool programs.

And to many mainstream North Carolinians, who have always had pride in their state and its progressive image – at least when compared with the rest of the South – the lawmakers have seemed to want to transform North Carolina into South Carolina.

Wanna bet following Yelton’s performance that South Carolina’s not too crazy about that idea anymore?

Considering how Republican state lawmakers have performed, the subsequent apologies for and attacks on Yelton by state party leaders ring hollow. Oh, they may not agree with everything Yelton said down the line, but on voter ID, he put in plain English what lawmakers tried to disguise with phony rhetoric.

At one point, Yelton’s interviewer asked, “You do know we can hear you, right?”

Yes, we can.

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