It’s become very clear that Donald Trump’s only path to return to the White House is by suppressing the votes of likely Democratic voters. Joe Biden has maintained a consistent lead in the polls for many months. And after Trump’s bulldozing performance in the first presidential debate, his off-putting bravado regarding his own bout with Covid-19, and his total inability to sound believable when Savannah Guthrie confronted his alternative facts at the recent town hall, the President’s poll numbers plummeted even further.
The Covid 19 Impact
Before the pandemic struck, the states Trump won in 2016—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—were expected to be in his column again. But his terrible handling of Covid changed all that. And let’s face it, Biden’s middle class persona, and general decency offers an acceptable alternative—unlike Hillary Clinton—for the classic Trump working class voter.
Many states thought to be sure bets for Trump’s reelection bid are now considered battleground states. Polling in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Ohio generally reveal Biden ahead of or tied with Trump within the statistical margin of error. Concern that Trump’s growing unpopularity will cost them their seats, some Senators are beginning to distance themselves from the Great Leader and his policies. Aside from occasional grumbling by the likes of Senators Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, Republican Senators have so far refused to back Trump’s proposal of an even larger Covid-19 stimulus than that proposed by the Democratic House. Mutiny is in the air. It seems Republicans suddenly rediscovered they are the standard bearers of fiscal responsibility— notwithstanding the $2.3 trillion 2017 tax cut.
Trump’s Growing List of Opponents
Adding to Trump’s troubles are numerous past Republican Party leaders and elected officials, like the popular former Ohio Governor, John Kasich, aggressively attacking him and urging a vote for Biden. Then there are former military officers, cabinet members and others who have had close working relationships with Trump in and out of government, condemning him, several with “tell all” books that have become best sellers.
Disaffected Republicans have formed groups like The Lincoln Project that air powerful anti-Trump ads. Additionally, many outspoken individuals, outside of traditional Democratic supporters, are vehemently attacking Trump and supporting Biden. With that kind of support it is difficult to imagine how even in a convoluted electoral system, Trump can amass the necessary 270 votes.
Trump’s Character Emerges
So the die would appear to be cast. Trump is likely to be rejected by a majority of voters in a fair election. But fairness and honesty aren’t qualities Trump admires. If a fair election and high voter turnout means ejection from the White House and Trump being labeled a loser, then it’s time for the Trump strategy, cheating. Trump has been a cheater in every aspect of his life, from his marriages and business dealings to paying his taxes. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a massive effort underway to suppress the vote in areas identified as blue. Trump has made no pretense of that intention, nor has the Republican Party in supporting that effort.
The Many Ways to Suppress the Vote
In my August 5th Blog I presented a list of the ways Republicans were going to try to suppress the vote, which I repeat below:
Voter suppression is the game of choice and the tactics—some which have already been employed—include:
- removing as many registered Democrats from voting rolls as possible (see Georgia 2018);
- not providing funding to states for an expansion of mail in balloting;
- rejecting mail-in ballot applications or ballots with minor errors;
- reducing the number of polling places in known Democratic areas;
- dissemination of false information on voting dates, hours and polling places;
- armed militias or other fierce looking individuals intercepting prospective voters at polling places to frighten them from voting or redirecting them to a different (wrong) location.
I also spoke of Trump’s campaign to upset operations in the U.S. Post Office to delay delivery of mail and create chaos in the handling of mail-in ballots, a subject I explored in detail in my Blogs of August 20th and September 5th. Now, less than two weeks away from Election Day, this is no longer just a prediction—voter suppression is in full gear.
Science has shown that a lie repeated often enough creates the illusion of truth, and facts become irrelevant. Trump has counted on this phenomenon to undermine the election process with the unsubstantiated claim of widespread fraud in mail-in voting. Though where fraud was discovered in 2018 in North Carolina’s Ninth District, it came from the Republican side in an illegal absentee ballot-gathering program. Today, California Republicans are in the midst of their own fraudulent ballot-gathering program, placing metal boxes with signs stating, “Official ballot drop-off box,” and encouraging voters to deposit their mail-in ballots there. After a challenge from state officials, the Republican Party modified their practices to conform to state law.
But ballot harvesting is not an isolated effort in California. The Council for National Policy (CNP), a little-known group that serves as a hub for a nationwide network of conservative activists and their donors, held meetings in February to discuss plans for seeking an advantage in the upcoming vote with “ballot harvesting.” This shortly before Trump tweeted “GET RID OF BALLOT HARVESTING, IT IS RAMPANT WITH FRAUD.” Several of the participants in these meetings were charitable organizations, whose non-taxable status precludes their active support of political candidates or working in coordination on their behalf. Nevertheless, they are directly coordinating activities with the White House. Apparently that is of little concern to the White House or this group.
Conspiracies, Intimidation and Other Suppression
Beyond ballot harvesting, conspiracy theories abound on right wing media outlets, on social media and Trump’s favorite, Twitter. As he gets more desperate, the accusations and crazy blabber becomes wilder and less even vaguely connected to truth. Forget the days of the dog whistle. Forget subtlety of any kind. He boldly proclaimed liberals and progressives—i.e., Democrats—are planning to wage war and the right must be ready to resist it. This follows Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists during the first debate, but instead directed them to “stand back and stand by.” He’s also enlisting their help at polling places to assure no wrongdoing. In other words, he’s encouraging the formation of a personal militia to frighten people casting ballots. This is the framework for voter intimidation at the very least, with the potential for actual violence at the extreme.
Voter intimidation by any other name is a means of terrifying fellow Americans to the point that they relinquish their right to vote. In Tennessee, a resident noticed a disturbance at her neighbor’s home. A Biden Yard sign was altered and Ku Klux Klan business cards were scattered around in front of the house. Most frightening was the message on the card: “You have been paid a social visit by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Don’t make the next visit a business call.”
Then, of course there’s run of the mill voter suppression, making voting in person a laborious process by limiting the number of places to cast a vote. I guess Republicans don’t find it excessive having to stand in line for 10 to 12 hours to cast a vote. Or the action taken by the Governor of Texas, limiting the number of places where mail-in ballots can be dropped off to one per county.
Trump’s Election Strategy
Keep in mind the manner in which Trump has amassed whatever fortune or position he has. He’s been unable to manage a business successfully, witness the number he’s driven into bankruptcy. Yet someone has always bailed him out, though apart from his father, initially, we don’t know the source of his subsequent funding. He’s been dishonest in his dealings with others; witness his stiffing hundreds of vendors who have worked for him, misuse of his personal charitable organization and fraudulent Trump University. Then there’s the issue of his personal and business tax returns. The little we know suggests that when finally examined in depth by the appropriate law enforcement agencies, he’ll have much to answer for.
In some ways Trump reminds us of the criminal who devotes everything to beating the system, rather than applying his energy to more socially productive and acceptable pursuits. Why is this important now? Well, Trump himself told us. If the ballot box reveals he is on the short end of the number of Electoral College votes to retain the presidency, he will turn to the courts to reverse the process. Just as he’s said for the last several months, his lawyers will claim millions of mail-in ballots are fraudulent for one reason or another and should not be counted.
Supreme Court, Here We Come
Considering the number of lower court judges he’s appointed, Trump has reason to believe they will support his position and channel the case to the Supreme Court. And that is Trump’s fail-safe position should voter suppression not accomplish the desired end. It’s no secret he wants Amy Coney Barrett on the Court when the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is heard, believing she will vote to overturn it. But, perhaps more importantly, he believes she will support his position on election fraud when the issue comes before the Supreme Court. Have no doubt that with his corrupt Attorney General William Barr leading the way, the Supreme Court is where he’s planning to bring it.
Ultimately, that is the biggest danger we face. Mitch McConnell’s maneuvering over the last four years has managed to place ultra conservative judges throughout the United States, potentially turning the Courts into an adjunct of the Republican Party. What Republicans cannot obtain legislatively, they plan to do so through the courts. One can only hope that regardless of their personal beliefs and ideological predispositions, all Justices take their oath to defend the Constitution more seriously than the President and his elected sycophants.