“We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
Donald J. Trump
This is one of the most dangerous statements from President Doland Trump, so far. He continues to cast doubt on the American system of government and its electoral system. We could ascribe that to his insecurities, and I am sure his psychological makeup is part of it. This is an election where he will have to face the voters. This must seem extremely unfair to a man who has never dealt with consequences. He even told his cult during a rally that if he loses, we will never see him again. Realize, he promised the same back in 2016. (Promises I know.)
We also know that he lost the popular vote in 2016. This was by over three million votes and he formed a commission to look for the non-existing fraud. The commission did not find any, and it was disbanded. However he, and other Republicans keep repeating that there is fraud in the system. To this day he chafes over that loss, however.
Let’s forget the psychology of the president here. There is plenty on that front from people far more qualified than me. But I can recognize the pattern from both history and the present.
First, let’s explore the present since the president admires people like Vladimir Putin who have become permanent fixtures in their nations and run them with a fist. Let’s make this clear, Putin is not a Democrat with a small D. In fact, one of his life objectives is to delegitimize democracy and democratic institutions, not just in Russia but in the West. Elections in Russia have not met any measure of free or fair for years and right now Trump would love to do the same in the United States. Trump is using some of the playbooks that Putin enacted in order to destroy a nascent Russian democracy. This includes casting doubt on the ballots. So is attacking the free press and other institutions. He wants to become an autocrat, just like Putin did. Trump has help from places like Facebook as well. Why? It is the way the software works if you want to be kind. Social media was weaponized by different forces and it’s been used to divide Americans. We have evidence that the Russians are at it again, as well. This is a clear and present danger. However, social media giants benefit from this division to keep people engaged. It also creates information bubbles where Americans increasingly live in two different realities and it is one reason for the polarization.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan followed a similar playbook to that used by Putin. He has continued to attack democratic institutions, even as president. . Through in the recent past, he seems less able to control elections. His party lost control of the city of Istanbul in municipal elections. This is not clear yet, but it may mark the beginning of the end for his party’s hold on power.
This is clearly not limited to foreign actors. We have a long history in the United States of limiting the vote of certain groups. The Jim Crow south before the Voting Rights Act is a good example, and a model for some members of the GOP, who bemoan the Votings Rights Act. They used different means to keep Blacks in particular. They used poll taxes, guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar, and other tactics to keep people from voting. For some white supremacists, the golden age of the country was the 1950s, when the suburbs were white, not mostly white, and Blacks and Latinos knew their place. They want to return the country to that social order.
These days the GOP wants to keep Democrats in general, and minorities in particular from voting, or accessing power. Why? The GOP is increasingly the minority, in a majority-minority nation. These statements from the president are meant to try to depress the vote by making people feel powerless and keep them from the ballot. This is reckless beyond belief and will also activate his loyal base. This could end with armed white gangs patrolling the streets, or posted outside polling stations to keep the wrong people from voting.
What is more humorous is the “what About Democrats” practiced by Republican Senators. No, the other candidate has not said anything like what the president said. Incidentally, the White House repeated it. No, there is no equivalency here and it is time for the media to call the GOP on this. Incidentally, that is also an authoritarian tool. It helps to normalize abnormal behavior, which this is. Then there is the idea that Trump is bluffing, which is used often by his fans. . At this point, we should all should know better. He is not bluffing. He is not mocking. He means it. This is very dangerous. The president will not leave the office if he can avoid it. Subverting the process is part of his toolset. Fortunately, if he loses, on January 20th, at 12:00, he will no longer be president. He does not need to accept the result, his successor will be sworn in. period.
Incidentally, the Senate resolution is just empty words to try to make us feel better. But only because he keeps doing things like this, and the Republican Party continues to enable this president.