Today is January 5th. Congress is meeting in Washington, D.C., preparing to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win. Voting for 2 Georgia Senators is imminent.
While browsing news channels at 3 a.m., I stumbled upon Don Lemon, interviewing Mitt Romney’s old campaign manager and paired with a former campaign manager for Barack Obama. Both were talking about the true motive for much of what is going on and, in fact. the true motive for the weird Georgia state rules for selecting senators.
According to these learned gentlemen (and the New York Times editorial I am about to reprint), it’s all part of that age-old story about minority disenfranchisement. Rather than make black voters guess how many jelly beans are in a jar to be allowed to vote (depicted in one memorable movie, with Oprah Winfrey portraying said black female voter)— the country—or, I should say, the Republican party—has moved on to high-tech digital disenfranchisement. All of the outcry that DJT has aimed at his election loss centers on predominantly black cities and states. Georgia is certainly no exception.
Here is today’s New York Times editorial, entitled “Trump Tries to Drag Jim Crow Into the Digital Age,” written by Charles M. Blow for that newspaper. At the same time I reprint this article, I mention the Twitter thread that explains how Trump will (probably) take the Republican party down with him, in the same way that the Whig party was taken down in disputes over slavery in 1854:
Without further ado, here are Charles M. Blow’s thoughts on racism in Trump-land:
“Regardless of what has happened since the election 2 months ago, or what may happen in the next few weeks, Joe Biden will almost assuredly be inaugurated the president on January 20th, and Donald J. Trump’s official reign of presidential terror will end that day.
But that is cold comfort as we have trudged through these last few months of Trump trying, at every turn, to overthrow the will of the people by overturning the election he lost in November. Even if his ultimate loss is inevitably secure Trump’s loss in the election, it seems as if he is burning down the village as he retreats.” (*Note: I’ve likened Trump’s time in office not tending to the Coronavirus as Nero fiddling while Rome burns, and Trump’s reaction to his defeat this past several weeks as Sherman’s March to the Sea.)
Trump has essentially claimed that fraud occurred during the election in large swing-state cities within counties that have large African-American populations—cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. But there is a problem with that implicit theory, as the New York Times pointed out in November: “All three of those cities voted pretty much the same way they did in 2016. Turnout barely budged, relative to turnout in other areas of the state. Joseph R. Biden saw no remarkable surge in support—certainly nothing that would bolster claims of ballot stuffing or tampered vote tallies. Mr. Trump even picked up marginally more votes this year in all 3 cities than he did 4 years ago.”
Trump didn’t lose this election in the cities; he lost it in the suburbs. But that thought is antithetical to the war Trump wants to wage within America between the suburbs and what he decries as ‘Democrat-run-cities,’—code for where concentrations of Black people and other people of color live. That prevailing racialized perception in conservative politics is part of the danger that Trump’s campaign to undermine the election poses: It threatens to strengthen efforts to disenfranchise in the future Black voters and other voters of color who disproportionately voted for Democrats. (*Note: As an attendee inside the DNC in Denver in 2008 and the RNC in St. Paul that year, I can testify to the diversity that was evident within the Democratic Convention that nominated Obama and the complete lack of anything similar within the Republican Convention in St. Paul, MN, that year.)
Trump has contended that his challenge to the election is about “ensuring that Americans can have faith in this election and in all future elections.” As Jay Willis pointed out in The Washington Post, “Even afterTrump’s presidency ends, that message will pave the way for GOP politicians and judges to further one of their party’s and the conservative movement’s most important ongoing projects: restricting voting rights.”
Trump lost this election, but he can still help Republicans win in the future.
Conservatives in America, whether they were acting under the banner of Democrats 100 years ago or under the banner of Republicans of today, have engaged in a campaign for racial exclusion at the ballot box ever since Black people (only Black men, at first) gained access to the franchise.
Trump not only attempted to erase Black votes after they were cast, he attempted to suppress them before they were cast. This is nothing new among Conservatives, but Trump has dragged the practice out of the backrooms and into the light of day once again, giving it a telegenic, digitally contagious persona.
And the Republican Party, or at least large portions of it, seem to have embraced Trump’s approach of making voter suppression a front-and-center, out-in-the-open central tenet of their electoral strategy.
As Eric Levitz pointed out in New York Magazine: “The GOP is now a party that has no compunction about nullifying the voting rights of its opposition to retain power. And once a party has liberated itself from the shackles of respecting its detractors’ rights, much else becomes permissible.” (*Note: I’m reminded of Susan Collins’ librarian-like admonition following the impeachment fiasco, that Trump would have “learned a lesson” from being impeached in the House. No, Susan, he learned that doubling down works and that he can push any boundary he wants, which has become painfully clear in the wake of the phone call to Brad Raffensperger in Georgia yesterday, 1/4/2021).
We have heard much talk about how Trump’s bogus battle weakens democracy by causing people to lose their faith in our honest and fair elections. But we don’t talk enough about how Black people and other racial minorities, this isn’t just about faith. For Blacks and other minorities, it is about being able to participate in elections at all. (*Note: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have seemed to have solidifed our nation’s position that “ALL” men are created equal and have an equal right to access the ballot box for change, but Trump seems to be trying to turn the clock back on that precept. The MAGA hats should say MAWA: Make America White Again—which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen.)
Now Trump’s battle moves to Congress, where a group of Republicans plan to challenge the counting of state Electoral College votes. This effort, too, is expected to fail. But it will provide yet another spectacle on a grand stage for the lie that Trump and his sycophantic courtiers have sown: that the political machine in liberal cities full of Blacks, hipsters (*Note: are ‘hipsters’ still a thing?), gays and gangs stole elections from the real Americans in the hinterlands.
What we are seeing unfold before our eyes is not about building trust in elections, it is anti-patriotic. It is not about ensuring that every legal vote is counted. It is about attempting to legally limit whose ballots can be counted.
Trump is attempting to drag Jim Crow into the Twitter era.