Saturday, April 04, 2020

Trump vs Democracy


Our heroic jefe, Señor Trumpanzee, is not just a war-time president, he's fighting a war on two fronts-- one against the COVID-19 pandemic-- who could have known?-- and one against democracy. Yesterday, Alex Isenstadt reported from the front lines in Trumpanzee's war against democracy. As you can see on the chart above, 65% of registered voters support the idea of vote by mail-- including 93% of Democrats, 70% of independents and even 32% of Republicans.

It is notable that 68% of Republicans oppose vote by mail. Makes no sense. Actually it does. Historically, conservatives have always done everything they could to keep the franchise as small as possible. They year for their glory days when only older white males with property were allowed to vote. Progressives have slowly but surely chipped away at that. This week David Ralston, the Republican Speaker of the Georgia House explained it as well as any conservative: "The president said it best. This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia." Yep, larger numbers of people voting usually is "extremely devastating" to conservatives.

Isenstadt wrote that "Trump's political operation is launching a multimillion-dollar legal campaign aimed at blocking Democrats from drastically changing voting rules in response to the coronavirus outbreak. In the past several weeks, the reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee have helped to oversee maneuvering in a handful of battleground states with an eye toward stopping some Democratic efforts to alter voting laws, and to bolster Trump. The mobilization is being closely coordinated with Republicans at the state and local levels.
The Trump campaign and RNC are actively engaged in litigation in Wisconsin, where the parties are at loggerheads over an array of issues including voter identification, and in New Mexico, where the battle involves vote-by-mail. The skirmishing has also spread across key states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, where the well-organized Trump apparatus has fought over changes that could sway the outcome of the election.

The enterprise-- which includes more than two dozen GOP officials, including lawyers dedicated entirely to litigation-- shows how completely the pandemic has upended the 2020 election. While litigation over voting issues is not uncommon, the coronavirus-- and the likely obstacles it will create for voting in November-- has brought the issue to the forefront of the campaign.

The public health crisis is already injecting a huge X-factor into the election, with impossible-to-predict effects on voter turnout, and officials in both parties acknowledge the fights over voting laws could affect the outcome of the election.

Democrats-- who typically benefit from high turnout elections because their voters cast ballots less reliably-- are plowing ahead with initiatives to make it easier to vote.

...Trump advisers say they are open to certain changes, such as automatically sending absentee ballot applications to voters over age 65. But they’re opposed to other moves Democrats are pushing, such as sending every voter a ballot regardless of whether they ask for one, which Republicans argue would open the door to fraud.

Trump has long been fixated on voter fraud. He has repeatedly claimed without evidence that he lost New Hampshire in 2016 because out-of-staters cast ballots, and after the election the president set up a since-disbanded voter fraud commission. Following the disastrous 2018 midterms, Trump said that after voting, some people “go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.”

During an appearance on Fox News this week, Trump pushed back against an effort by House Democrats to secure billions of dollars for election assistance in the coronavirus relief package. The bill Trump ultimately signed included $400 million, a fraction of what Democrats had been seeking.

“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said.

Federal funding to help states ease voting barriers in response to coronavirus is just one front in the battle. Trump's political apparatus is taking a state-by-state approach.

In Pennsylvania, where Democrats proposed an entirely vote-by-mail system, Trump advisers worked with the Republican-controlled Legislature to push through more circumscribed rules. They include a limited expansion of absentee voting and changes to the handling and counting of those ballots.

In Georgia, some officials are recommending sending everyone a ballot, also a no-go for Trump's team. The president’s advisers instead advocated mailing people applications they would need to fill out and return in order to receive a ballot. The idea was approved by Georgia’s Democratic Party and Republican secretary of state.

Republicans see an advantage in the change in Georgia. They say they will be able to use their financial advantage over Democrats to reach their Georgia supporters to ensure they're returning ballot request forms.

The Democratic offensive is being led by Marc Elias, a veteran election attorney who is currently involved in litigation in more than a dozen states. He has advocated a handful of changes in the wake of the outbreak, including providing pre-paid postage for mail-in ballots and extending the postmark deadline to Election Day.

"If states are not able or willing to rise to the occasion of the challenges that Covid-19 poses, we’re going to continue looking very seriously to the courts to protect the rights of voters and to ensure that ballots don’t go uncounted that should be counted,” Elias said.

Trump advisers say they are trying to prevent overreach on the part of Democrats, who have long sought to ease voting restrictions.

“It is beyond disgusting that the Democrats are using this crisis to try to dismantle the integrity of our voting system,” said Justin Clark, a senior Trump campaign counsel who is helping to spearhead the legal fight. “The American people won’t stand for this, and the campaign and the party intend to fight with them for a free, fair, and open vote in November."

Clark pointed to so-called community ballot collection-- an idea embraced by some Democrats that would allow local organizations and individuals to collect ballots from voters at their homes-- as something the Trump campaign would fight.

The pandemic is expected to increase the amount of funding the Republican Party devotes to lawsuits. The cash-flush Trump machine announced in February it was directing $10 million toward legal battles, but people involved in the effort say that figure is now likely to climb much higher.
You know how you always see photos of presidents and their wives early on election day voting at the polls? You won't see one of those this Friday for the Florida primary; Trump has requested absentee ballots for himself and the former Slovenian sex worker he married-- just as some 160,000 other Palm Beach County residents have. Yesterday at his daily shit show, he said "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting. People should vote with ID, voter ID, I think voter ID is very important. The reason they don’t want voter ID is because they intend to cheat. It shouldn’t be mail-in voting. It should be you go to booth and you proudly display yourself, you send it in the mail… all sorts of bad things can happen… by the time it gets in and is tabulated."

Some think that the conservative plot to demolish the U.S. Post Office-- which happens to be constitutionally-mandated-- is now, because of the pandemic-- in high gear. No post office, no trustworthy mail-in-voting? Kara Eastman, in the progressive Democrat running to replace Trumpist toady Don Bacon in Omaha. "Republicans are afraid of high turnout so they are afraid of universal vote by mail," she told us. "We need to push to ensure that our democracy doesn’t fall victim to this virus like our economy has." Texas progressive Mike Siegel noted that "In one fell swoop, we see that the Republicans are both a death cult and fundamentally anti-democratic. They’d rather us risk infection than increase voter participation. I understand that creating national vote-by-mail is a monumental task, but with resources and commitment it is certainly achievable. It’s the right thing for public health and it’s the right thing for our democracy." Please consider supporting the campaigns being run by Kara, Mike Siegel, Mark Gamba and Liam O'Mara by clicking on the thermometer below and contributing what you can in these tough times.

Goal ThermometerMark Gamba, the mayor of Mikwaukie, is running for Oregon's 5th congressional district against Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, who finds himself voting with Republicans far more than an actual Democrat. Gamba is a progressive with every instinct and every action. This morning he told us that "Oregon has been 100% vote by mail for over 20 years. It’s super convenient, we have two weeks with our ballots and can vote at our kitchen tables. We get some of the best turnouts in the country especially since we have one of the highest levels of voter registration in the country. What’s more, there’s a paper trail. It can’t be cheated. That last one in particular is what worries the Republicans. They know that in totally fair elections they lose. In this Pandemic moment, we are one of the few states that can safely vote. Our primary will continue as scheduled. I think the Republicans know that these last 3+ years have been some of the worst in American history for a significant part of the population. In a fair election, with a big turnout, they will lose the presidency, the Senate and the House will move further to the left. If we hope to stop climate change and create a universal health care system so that these pandemics don’t become a regular part of our lives then moving to a nationwide, Oregon style, vote by mail will be a powerful first step."

A Riverside County congressional candidate for a seat help by Trump-lockstepper Ken Calvert, progressive Liam O'Mara is also a history professor. "It is one of the most poorly-kept secrets in American politics that not everyone involved in it likes democracy," he said today. "There is a vocal subset of Republican officials who scream about Democrats wanting to take our freedoms, while they quietly do the job themselves-- authoring and passing surveillance legislation, expanding police powers, eroding civil rights legislation through the courts, and engaging in active voter-suppression. This has long since moved past hypocrisy and into farce, and if we cannot find a way to reach the voters who enable these figures, we will find ourselves living under permanent minority rule as the kind of "managed democracy" we see in places like Russia. If we're not willing to fight back for basic liberties like voting, then the act could lose meaning, becoming a rubber-stamp for a minority party, and our freedom be stamped out with it. We need to extend and secure voting rights, not let them be stripped from more each year. Enough is enough. Are we to be a republic or a party dictatorship? Talk to your Republican friends. Help them to understand that partisan divisions are being exploited to undermine what it means to be an American. If we can't talk to each other again, we may lose those values to which we pledged our allegiance."

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At 10:00 PM, Blogger Ten Bears said...

I ask again, if the postal service fails, how are you going to mail the ballots?

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you've discovered the real impetus, TB.

When you consider that trump is only in the "shithole" white house because the democrap party is so horrible they can't beat the likes of him, and you consider that far more eligible voters never vote than vote for either trump or the latest 'worst democrap ever', you should do a piece on the extremely ironic topic "American Voters vs. Democracy".

just a thought.


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