It is not a question of whether Trump is going to undermine the election. He is doing it now. He has been doing it for months.
While the contemporary Republican Party has a shameful history of attempting to undermine elections, their ability was greatly assisted by the 2013 Supreme Court decision on the case of Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the landmark 1964 Voting Rights Act. This opened the floodgates for voter ID laws and other restrictions aimed at suppressing minority and Democratic voters These have included closing polling places, reducing voting hours, throwing people off of the voter roles, among other things. And the Supreme Court in its current composition is not a friend to voting rights. Chief Justice John Roberts has a long history of supporting voting restrictions. Thomas sided with the majority in Bush v. Gore. Both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have troubling records on this as well. Now, Coney Barrett, who is likely to be confirmed before the election, has said she will not recuse herself from sitting on a case stemming from the current election. This has all the odor of a quid pro quo.
The latest efforts of the Republican Party to undermine American democracy and install a permanent plutocracy are a multitude of acts that the Trump administration and the RNC have committed over the last several months. Here is a partial list. These are not in chronological order as many have been going on simultaneously.
- Repeatedly casting doubt on the validity of mail-in ballots and voting in general.*
- Orchestrating the appointment of DeJoy as Postmaster General who has implemented actions to delay ballots from being received and counted by kneecapping the USPS.
- Repeatedly refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
- Repeatedly refusing to agree to the validity of election results.
- Eliminating polling places in minority communities and reducing drop boxes for ballots
- Launching multiple lawsuits aimed at restricting access to the polls.
- Training teams of “poll watchers” with the intent of intimidating voters.
- Signaling to white supremacists to “stand down and stand by”.
- Nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court who along with Trump’s two other appointments, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, and the other conservatives on the court, Roberts, Alito and Thomas are expected to “look at the ballots.”**
- The presence of William Barr as Attorney General who will do whatever it takes to convolute the law in Trump’s favor.
- Encouraging Republican-dominated legislatures to claim voter fraud or an inability to count the ballots and bypass the certification of votes so that they can name their own electors or simply withholding certification so that no candidate achieves the needed 270 electoral votes. In this event, the 12th Amendment is invoked and the election would be decided in the House of Representatives with each state having one vote–a slam dunk for Trump.
We are now not only in a battle for the soul of America as Joe Biden says; we are in a battle for the democracy itself. Only last night at a rally, Trump led chants for 16 more years. This would require a Constitutional amendment. Such an amendment at present is a political impossibility, leaving one to wonder if suspending the Constitution is under consideration.
People keep saying we’ll have to see what happens with the election and that it is just a matter of GOTV. Would that this were so. That is assuming that we will have a fair election and that all the votes will be counted. But it also assumes that somehow, the Republican-controlled States and the Supreme Court will not put their thumbs on the result. It also assumes that winning a plurality of the votes will mean that Biden becomes President. One needn’t be reminded that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won 3 million more votes than Trump nationally and lost the Electoral College. I’m not confident that this won’t happen again or any number of nightmare scenarios which would secure the Presidency for Trump.
All of this adds up to a very ugly recipe for the end of the American experiment in democracy because the Republicans fundamentally favor minority rule (and I am not referring to race!). I think we are all befuddled about how to prevent this tragedy in the making. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
*The conservative Heritage Foundation found that the rate of voter fraud in the U.S. is .0006%. ** Trump stated this at the debate on September 29, 2020.