I had forgotten until very recently that, prior to his assuming Michael Cohen’s old job as this administration’s king fixer, Don McGahn had been a member of the Federal Election Commission from 2008 to 2013. This was one of the last appointments that C-Plus Augustus made before leaving office, and it had some of the most lasting repercussions, some of which are still shaking the ground under our democratic institutions to this day.
You have to remember that the second Bush Administration remained unshakably paranoid about the dubious way it had been installed in office. At least throughout its first term, and certainly in the days before the 9/11 attacks threw everything up in the air, it had an entirely justified concern about its fundamental legitimacy. Then, along came 2008 and Barack Obama’s improbable rise, which was generated by a deluge of authentic political enthusiasm that swamped the political system, much of it coming from people whom the Republicans would rather not see at the polls, thank you very much.
It was this combination of factors—a failed presidency installed illegitimately combined with a spectacular reaction after eight years of failure—that fully embedded voter suppression into the Republican Party as a fundamental characteristic. It had rendered itself incapable of reaching the new voters that had powered the Obama campaign, so it determined, root and branch, to make it as hard as possible for any Democratic candidate to replicate that dynamic.