Compare And Contrast July 31, 2023July 30, 2023 CONTRAST #1: Trump talks; Biden delivers (30 seconds). CONTRAST #2: We want to make it easy to vote; they want to make it hard (e.g., Texas) — and to make administering elections fairly hazardous (e.g., Arizona). If you care about women’s rights or gun safety . . . about delivering rural broadband or revitalizing our C-minus-rated infrastructure . . . about confronting climate change or preserving democracy . . . this stuff should matter a million times more than whether the NCAA guidelines on trans women in sports are sufficiently stringent. But that’s our challenge: getting people to focus on what’s important. And awakening more voters to the fact that — CONTRAST #3 — the economy does better under Democrats than Republicans. And the stock market — CONTRAST #4 — does much better. But because Republicans will try to distract voters with stuff that should matter a million times less, indulge me on two of them: > Trans girls in sports. Did you even know the NCAA has guidelines? The once-Grand Old Party never mentions it. For high school sports, policies vary all over the map and I happily concede reasonable people can disagree on how this should work. But reasonable people might also disagree about whether whether 140-pound 12-year-olds should be allowed to play football. The median 12-year-old American boy weighs 89 pounds. Why is he — or even his 125-pound classmate — at less of a disadvantage against the 140-pounder than is a 12-year-old girl on the field hockey team playing against a trans girl? The trans girl may (or may not) be stronger or faster or heavier than the others — but someone has to be. Why can it never be a trans girl? Or, as above, a 140-pound 12-year-old boy? My own preference would be to leave this to local officials who strive to be fair and who care about all children — including trans children. Adults who love their trans children, I believe, are more to be admired than adults who hate or disown or otherwise discriminate against trans children. My two cents. Republican leadership may disagree. But wherever you stand on this issue, it’s one-millionth as important as the issues the once-G.O.P. hopes to distract us from. > Voter ID. Voter suppression has long been a key Republican tactic. An NRA card is fine, but not a university-issued student ID? A crime to supply water to voters standing for hours in line? Really? I can’t count the number of times people have asked me why, if you need photo ID to borrow books from a library, you shouldn’t need one to vote. That’s meant to be a conversation stopper, but actually it’s bogus. Library theft is an actual problem; voter ID fraud is not. Some people really do intentionally steal library books. Others don’t return them because — like practically all of us — they’re lazy or forgetful or tend to procrastinate. And/or because — once the books are overdue — they want to avoid fines. In short: there is a problem. The library card helps somewhat to mitigate it. With voting, there is no problem. The number of people who pretend to be someone they’re not and vote illegally is vanishingly small — and those criminals are at least as likely to be Republicans as Democrats, so the two vanishingly small numbers more or less cancel each other out anyway. The rightwing Heritage Foundation keeps a database of all proven cases of voter fraud and have come up with a headline number of 1,437. And yes, for every proven case there may be 100 that go undetected. But this database covers decades. During which time billions of votes have been cast. And it includes all kinds of voter fraud — not just identity fraud. And if you drill down on a state — Pennsylvania, say — you’ll see that (a) there have been just a handful of cases since 1994 and (b) Heritage does not report whether it was Democrats or Republicans who cheated. This may not always be knowable, but even where it’s not, it can usually be inferred. And I’m pretty sure that if the preponderance of the vanishingly small number of identity fraud crimes were committed by Democrats, Heritage would have added a “party affiliation” column to its table. Republicans know it’s not easy for people who can’t afford cars to get government issued ID’s, especially if they’re poor or housebound or working two jobs with no time to spare — and that such people are far more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. And that’s the reason they use the library card analogy to justify this unneeded barrier to voting. But wherever you stand on THIS issue, it, too, is one-millionth as important as the issues the once-G.O.P. hopes to distract us from. Have a great week.