2020 has been a crazy year and more so than usual, it’s felt like life have serious come at us fast. It feels almost like the further we’ve gotten into the pandemic, the faster things have started to move with huge events happening one after the another in quick succession. Just look at what’s happening to our South in the United States as the prime example. It was just over a week ago that the bombshell news about Donald Trump’s taxes came out, huge news of its own that would normally dominate a news cycle.
Yet here we are today, and it feels like it happened ages ago, with bombshell story after bombshell story wiping it right off the map. So many things have happened in between that it feels not so much like trying to drink from a firehose, but more like trying to drink from a dozen firehoses at once while standing on your head. It’s been crazy but it’s been the times that we live in. While we’ve seen some big stories in that flood, we’ve missed some important, serious stories in the process that deserve more attention. One particular story jumped out at me this morning, as it spoke to the campaign geek in me but also because how disturbing it was to my eyes:
The American electoral system is complex, mostly because it’s not one-uniform electoral system but a collection of many state and local systems. That can make it a bit unwieldy but one positive feature of that is that it takes a lot of work to mess with it; you can’t target one place with lawsuits or hacks. That’s why this story from the Associated Press about what the Trump campaign is doing across the country really disturbed be on a few levels.
They’re trying to make mountains over molehills on every level of the electoral system, flooding them with complaints and attacks on their legitimacy on a scale that’s just mind blowing. They’re writing local election offices suggesting that they ignore lawful state orders from Boards of Elections on counting votes, simply because they don’t like them. They are deliberately creating conflicts around mail-in ballots, blowing up and misconstruing what’s happened there, using Twitter and shout outs in the Presidential debate to do so. They’ve filed more than 200 lawsuits over voting procedures in the election, challenging everything under the sun as they try to game the refs.
They’ve tried to challenge the rules around election observers to allow them to send in thousands of people into other states to “watch” the vote, even in periods and places where election observers aren’t allowed to be period. In North Carolina, Trump’s team is harassing Board of Elections officials because they settled a lawsuit with a voting rights group making it easier for voters to fix mistakes, which saw Black voters sending in a disproportionate number of ballots with errors. In Wisconsin sent a cease and desist letter to the City of Madison over their hosting of a “Democracy in the Park” event, which was promoting voting. And on top of all of that, there was this story the here that just further blew my mind:
Yes folks, the Republicans in Wisconsin are trying to threaten pro sports teams in Milwaukee from promoting voting. They are trying to get mascots like Bango the Buck, Bernie Brewer and the famous racing sausages banned from their venues during early voting. They’re trying to also ban players from those teams from being present at those venues at the same time, saying that it would be “electioneering” therefore illegal. That’s completely insane when you think about it, because “electioneering” means trying to get someone to vote for one candidate or party, not just simply the promoting the very idea of voting itself.
Yet with all these examples (and many others not listed here) you’re seeing a huge and concerted effort here from the Trump campaign on a scale the likes of which we’ve never seen. They aren’t trying to “make things fair” or ensure that the rules are upheld, they are actively trying to stop people from voting. They are trying to make it harder to vote, they’re trying to make it easier to intimidate those who wish to exercise their right to vote and they are trying to stop anyone from daring to promote voting. When you see it on this scale, the amount of time, work and effort it would take to go after all of these smaller bodies, all of these threats, letters and such, one thing becomes very clear. They’re putting an inordinate amount of effort into trying to stop people from voting instead of convincing them to for their candidate.
And that’s what’s probably most disturbing to me. The Trump campaign is actively trying to stop people from voting and scare them away from the polls. This is an attempt at voter suppression on a level the likes of which we’ve never seen. But further to that, it belies a sense of paranoia on the behalf of the Trump team. They’ve managed to take the slogan “Fear the Deer” to a crazy place. Seriously, when you see a group of racing sausages as a threat to your re-election, you’ve really lost the plot. Yes, these sausages:
2020 man, what a trip. The other insidious part of this move by the Trump team is that they know they are going to lose most if not all of these fights. The defense that they are using for these tactics aren’t based in fact and quickly fall apart once they get before a judge. Yet they clearly aren’t designed to succeed. They’re designed to frustrate, clog and overwhelm an electoral system that simply not designed to handle such shenanigans. It’s the kind of anti-democratic campaign that would make Vladimir Putin proud, as it’s all about trying to grind the ability of people to exercise their rights into the ground. Any campaign that decides to go so heavy on such tactics is sending a clear signal that they can’t win a straight up race. It also tells us that they will do whatever, however, to hold onto power and if Trump himself has made anything clear over the past few weeks, it’s that he’s willing to do just that. And if you look at all of these examples put together, he’s clearly acting on that impulse in a way that’s dangerous to free and democratic elections. That from the so-called “Leader of the Free World”. In Trump’s mind, it’s only that if you agree with him and if not? Well he’ll do whatever he can to stop you, which is exactly what his team appears to be doing right now.