Thomas argued last weekend that Republicans are mistaking their base for the rest of us. That’s why they insist, as one Republican did, that brutal spending cuts “are very popular with mainstream North Carolinians.” Contrary to Thomas, the focus of their claim is not on the breadth of their support, but on the qualities of their supporters. Irrespective of majority opinion, if conservative demographics support a bill then Republicans feel vindicated.

The idea that only some people’s views count runs deep in American–especially Southern–history. It holds that, for reasons of personal character, some types of people are not fit to govern themselves. The attitude still radiates through the Republican party. Jay DeLancy of the offensively misnamed Voter Integrity Project betrayed it when he said “that race showed how easily college students can be manipulated like pawns.” If liberal and non-white voters are weak minded sheep, they can be ignored.

Since conservatives are the only “real” voters, any policy with their support automatically has democratic legitimacy. Republicans proceed with a confidence that puzzles outsiders for this reason. It’s because in their minds they have the support of every voter who is tangible and comprehensible. The rest are an unpleasant abstraction.

Pat McCrory put this principle into practice yesterday by signing the voting-discrimination law. I’ve already voiced my opinions on the law, and stand by what I said. Note one more thing about it, though. The bill permits only the type of ID conservative Republicans already possess. That is due to a lack of empathy as well as anti-democracy sentiment.

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