The most openly racist GOP nominee ever is spewing the right’s most racist lies to attack voting rights
The last few weeks has seen a series of victories for voting rights like we haven’t seen since 2012 — the last time the GOP tried to sway a presidential election by placing unnecessary burdens on voting.
In the past 10 days, courts have issued six major decisions against GOP-backed voting restrictions in five different states.
On Friday, an array of new voting restrictions were struck down in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas. This followed rulings the previous week softening voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin and striking down Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting. When you include a court decision in Ohio from May reinstating a week of early voting and same-day registration, anti-voting laws in six states have been blocked so far in 2016.
These victories happened to coincide with Donald Trump’s sudden and pendulous drop in the polls following his poorly received Gathering of the Trumpalos and Democrats’ well received convention.
Facing less than 100 days in the campaign and three debates in which he would be expected to know things that weren’t on Hannity last night, Trump decided his best bet was to pull the rip cord on the race and American democracy itself.
“The whole thing with voter identification I think is really—I mean people are going to walk in, they are going to vote 10 times maybe,” he told Bill O’Reilly.
As with birtherism, the issue that made him a racist conservative hero, Trump didn’t invent the fake crisis of voter fraud.
In his fantastic history of the struggle to win, expand and maintain voting rights Give Us the Ballot, Berman notes that this has been the false thesis behind the GOP’s most recent assault on voting rights, which ironically began in 2000 after voter role purges helped Republicans “win” Florida.
The Bush Administration studied the “problem” for most of a decade and couldn’t find any evidence it exists. However, there’s lots of evidence that laws requiring ID purposely disenfranchise voters who are members of groups that have been historically disenfranchised. And there’s decent evidence that long lines caused by purposely limiting voting in Democratic areas may have cost John Kerry Ohio the 2004 election.
Even if voter suppression doesn’t swing elections, what justification is there for any American having to wait 10 hours to vote or that minority voters wait significantly longer than white people to cast a ballot.
This nation has no history of significant voter fraud but we have centuries of history of denying the vote to those who deserve it.
The image of some voter — probably one of the two New Black Panthers — showing up to vote over and over is modern version of Reagan’s “welfare queen.” That concept was invoked to help engineer the greatest transfer of wealth to the rich in American history. And the completely imagined fairy tale of an election being swung by fraud is being used to justify the largest wave of anti-voting laws since Jim Crow.
And this is especially tragic given that our greatest electoral crisis is far too few Americans vote.
“In 2014, only 14.6 percent of eligible voters participated in congressional primaries — a record low, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate,” FiveThirtyEight‘s David Wasserman wrote.
Trump’s supporters are already trying to gin up civil unrest in the case of his likely defeat. And Trump is helping them by utilizing the gift that has helped him glide to the nomination — he’s tying his ego-driven tantrum to an undercurrent of racial resentment that already exists in the party.
As in so many of the controversies he’s stirred (his call for a ban on Muslim travel into the U.S., his repeated insistence that illegal immigrants are driving a spike in violent crime), he has taken the subtext of Republican rhetoric and made it explicit. But in this case, perhaps more than in others, what he’s doing threatens to undermine public faith in democratic processes on a mass scale, with unpredictable and potentially destabilizing consequences.
Trump’s outward invoking of racist stereotypes has been the core of his appeal to the right since he announced his campaign and the sole reason why any attempt from his conservative competitors to out him as a fake conservative has failed.
“How can he be a fake conservative if he’s actually saying aloud what you’ve only dared to imply?” Republican voters have said with their votes and support for Trump.
And now the dangerous delegitimization of the democracy the right has long relied on — like so much of the fire the right has played with — is threatening to burn us all.
[CC photo credit: Tom Arthur | Wikimedia Commons]