During the recent US election campaign, Trump’s attack on democracy continued unabated. During the campaign he targeted the US postal service. In view of the fact that the pandemic was making mail-in voting much more attractive than it has ever been before, Trump’s minions were intent on emasculating the post office. Trump actually admitted, the more people that vote the worse it is for Republicans. This is one thing he says I agree with. It is interesting how open Trump is about what otherwise might be called a conspiracy. Just like he admitted to reporter Bob Woodward that he was not telling the truth to the American public about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.
As David Smith has reported in the Guardian, (what I consider to be an independent and reliable source of news)
“Trump recently admitted that he was blocking money sought by Democrats for the postal service so he could stop people voting by mail.”
Yet, Trump reduced the postal service when the postal service was more urgently needed than ever before. The reason was obvious. He wanted to help Republicans. He was not worried about voter fraud. He is quite comfortable with fraud.
Trump repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting is inevitably fraudulent. While he is an expert on fraud, he ignored all the evidence and offered none in return except for a few anecdotes. As Smith reported,
“His allergic reaction to mail-in voting is based on the false premise that it is riddled with fraud, an assertion debunked by numerous fact checkers and academic studies. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah – already carry out elections almost entirely by mail.”
Trump’s reaction was also likely based on the fact that most mail-in-ballots would come from Democrats since they were taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and had less confidence than Republicans that they would be safe at the polls unlike the Republicans. As Smith pointed out before the election,
“Democrats claim that the president’s true motive is to disenfranchise millions of their voters; surveys show significantly more Republicans than Democrats say they would feel safe showing up to vote in person.”
Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist based in Columbia, South Carolina, was even more blunt, “This is an attempt to do election interference 2.0. This time it’s done by this administration and not a foreign adversary. Not only is Trump trying to undermine the integrity of the election, he’s trying to strike fear and chaos into our election.” All of his actions after the election reinforce this view.
After Democrats cried foul amid general support for their complaints, the postmaster general Louis DeJoy, said he would cancel the proposed cuts until after the election. That was clearly the right thing to do. But the earlier actions have undermined confidence in the election process.
According to Seawright this “election sabotage campaign” and has demonstrated that Republicans belong to “the party of voter suppression.” The Democrats of course for many years properly earned that label too for their decades long policy of voter suppression of African Americans in the south after the Civil War. Those policies were always supported by the Republicans however. Both parties gave strong support for the suppression of African-American voting rights.
Seawright knew from experience what Trump’s position is intended to do. As he said,
“I’m black and so all of my life, including my sharecropper grandparents’ lives, they have been trying to do everything they can to limit our participation in the election process. This just elevates my concern going into this election. The playbook is pretty much the same.
It’s just different players implementing the strategy, and the strategy has been recalibrated this time as vote by mail. Keep in mind we’re still in the middle of a pandemic where showing up to vote in person could mean life or death for some people. But black people have put their lives on the line to vote before and, if we keep going down this road, I think we are willing and able to do it again because this election is just that important.”
In August of 2020 the American Senate issued a bipartisan report that revealed the massive extent to which the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians during the 2016 election. They did not call it collusion. It said that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager worked closely with a “Russian intelligence officer,” Konstantin Kilimnik. The Senate report also warned that Russians were already working on interfering again in the recent 2020 election to get their man Trump re-elected. While that is disturbing, even though few Republican leaders acknowledge it, presumably because they are willing to take any support they can get from any and all sources, no matter how besmirched, there is an even more egregious disrupter of the election.
As Smith commented in the Guardian,
“But such threats currently appear less fundamental than that posed by a president gone rogue – a man who this week welcomed the support of believers in a baseless righting conspiracy theory that holds the world is run by a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.”
Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and broadcaster, asked: “Who needs Vladimir Putin when we have Donald Trump? If you were Vladimir Putin and you wanted to disrupt this election, what would you do? You’d spread disinformation. You’d make people doubt the legitimacy of the vote. You’d peddle conspiracy theories and you might want to mess with mail-in voting. That’s all happening without him. Our president is doing that.”
More and more are joining in these fears. As Smith reported,
Before the election, Sykes, founder and editor-at-large of the Bulwark website, warned of a “very ugly” post-election period.
“It’s very clear that Trump will use every lever of governmental power to stay in office. There’ll be many mail-in votes and the mail-in votes will be very different than the same-day votes.What he will do – and it will be very much on brand for Donald Trump – is declare victory on election night and then, as the mail-in votes are counted, he will insist that that they are not legitimate, that the election is being stolen from him, and I think that has the potential to create massive doubt and chaos.”
Trump has today again made it clear that he still disputes the election even though he is now consenting to his administration cooperating with the incoming Biden administration to allow transition. But this issue is not over, particularly when over 80% of Republicans believe the Democrats stole the election.
There is no doubt we live in interesting times—perhaps much too interesting.