Severson from an MPR photograph
by Steve Timmer
Oct 19, 2014, 12:30 PM

Dan “We are not a democracy” Severson

The sleeper race of the year has to be for Secretary of State. There is no other explanation for the fact that Tea Party favorite Dan Severson, who likes to call himself “Doc,” as an enticement to voters old enough to have been Johnny Carson fans and who don’t see or spell too well, is running close to the DFL endorsee, Steve Simon.

Dandoc the Magnificent (another reference to Johnny Carson) has peculiar ideas about the political system. He doesn’t think we’re living in a democracy. You can watch the video here and listen to the polite applause and the twitter of nervous laughter when he makes that remark on the Capitol lawn when he ran for Secretary of State in 2010.

France, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys, is a democracy! says Dandoc. We sure don’t want that, do we Dandoc?

What Dandoc was trying to say, in his own tri-corner hat, fifth-grade civics kind of way, is that the United States is a republic, and it is: a democratic republic to be sure. Dandoc’s remarks are just part of the Tom Emmer/Mike Parry Tenth Amendment Light-Bulb-Freedom-Act Freak Show.

But because of the federal government and, inter alia, the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Amendments, Senators are popularly elected in each state, Congressional Districts must be the same size and are apportioned nationwide based on population, and everyone’s vote is supposed to count, and count exactly as much as anyone else’s. (Because of the way the Electoral College is constituted, it tilts in favor of citizens from small states in electing the President of the U.S. But even there, the national popular vote almost always wins. And I will bet you a quarter that Dandoc is not in favor of the initiative to amend the Constitution to elect the president by national popular vote.)

At all events, Minnesota is a democracy. Okay, Dandoc, it’s a representative democracy, not a pure Athenian democracy. But that’s why giving everyone a chance to participate fairly in voting is so important. And why Dandoc doesn’t want any part of that.

To put it charitably, Dandoc the Magnificent is a vote suppressor. I say charitably, because there are other words that I might have used: racist or authoritarian, for example. Eric Ferguson outlined a recent visit by Dandoc to the West Metro Tea Party. Dandoc says, if we can’t control voting, we can’t elect the right people.

We’ve heard Dandoc’s tall tales of voter fraud hysteria before, just last cycle. The Republicans tried to shove a constitutional amendment for a photo voter ID requirement down the voters’ throats, and it was pretty decisively defeated.

If you want to go through all of that again, Dandoc the Magnificent is your man.

The jig is really up on the purpose of photo voter ID laws, though, when the author of the opinion in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that became Crawford v. Marion County Election Board in the Supreme Court (the decision on the Indiana law that set off the stampede) had a change of heart on the whole photo voter ID business. Writing, regrettably in dissent in a Wisconsin photo voter ID case, Judge Richard A. Posner said:

There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud [and there isn’t], and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.

That, my friends, is probably the most succinct, single-sentence explanation of photo voter ID laws as voter suppression that you will ever read.

There is simply no way to compare Steve Simon to Dan Severson. It’s apples and horse apples.

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