Trump’s racist gambit did not work. Consider it a warning | Editorial

Posted Nov 27, 2020

Donald Trump appears closer to accepting that he can no longer go on pretending that he won the election, after three weeks of hearing judges cackle at his fatuous claims.

But let’s not forget how he tried to use racist vote-purging to steal the election, and how members of his party remained mute during this effort to savage our democracy.

Trump’s campaign attempted to throw out millions of ballots that were cast in minority cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Never during this process did his legal legions produce evidence of widespread fraud or any impropriety in these places, and multiple courts rejected every challenge, usually with gusto.

Yet he persisted, with racist strategies that perfectly encapsulate his political career.

In Wisconsin, Trump’s vote counters called for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee County — which is 58 percent Black and Latino — but not in the whiter counties, and called for the purge of hundreds of thousands of votes because they weren’t folded properly or the ink didn’t match.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign made false claims about widespread voter fraud in Philadelphia, and argued that thousands of ballots should be declared void because election observers were not allowed to watch the count — which they had to admit was wrong, after a judge pushed back.

In Michigan, Biden’s 332,000 margin in Wayne County — home to majority-Black Detroit — was essential to his 150,000-vote victory in a battleground state. That was too much for Rudy Giuliani, a master of accidental comedy, who said, “It changes the result of the election if you take out Wayne County.”

Trump even called two Republican canvassing board members from Wayne County and pressured these local election officials to not certify the results.

In these examples, you still hear old background themes — racist dog whistles, mostly — from Jim Crow: The votes of Black people votes should not count, they seem to believe.

This mythology was around before Trump. But he has has supercharged it, and Republicans have enabled it with their silence. Nobody said it better than Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP, which filed suit against the Trump campaign in Michigan for violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

“All summer, leaders of the Republican party offered encomiums to John Lewis and purported to understand the sacrifice he made on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Yet they stood by and allowed this terrible casting of Black votes with this imprimatur of fraudulence,” Ifill told MSNBC.

“That’s another reason we have to pursue this. It’s not just about the outcome. It’s about the full citizenship of Black people, the right to participate in the political process, and have our votes counted and have the same value as anyone else in our society.”

None of this was surprising. After years of passing laws that suppress urban and minority turnout and crafting gerrymandered maps that allow them to retain power with fewer votes, Republicans turned cheating into ugly political science in 2020.

They created unbearable voting lines during the pandemic by limiting vote-by-mail, refused to allow election officials in key states to count ballots early, encouraged intimidation at polling stations, stripped major cities of their drop boxes, used racist code to scare suburban voters, warned of violence in the streets, and rushed to fill the Supreme Court if their legal challenges went that far.

Their failure was that they never brought adequate evidence of the fraud Trump has charged for months. A Pennsylvania judge, a conservative Republican named Matthew Brann, dismissed a Trump lawsuit last weekend by noting that “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption. That has not happened.”

Essentially, Trump has chosen to leave the political stage the same way he entered it: by promoting a racist conspiracy theory in an attempt to delegitimize the winner of a fair and honest election.

Yes, the system held, but we may not be as lucky next time. It was severely stress-tested, and the 2020 election could have been chaos if just one judge or one Republican election official was as corrupt as Trump hoped they would be.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-11-28 04:16:46 -0800