If you turned on CNN anytime in the last 24 hours, you heard nonstop talk about how crazy Donald Trump was to make unfounded and insulting allegations of massive voter fraud. Trump isn’t simply saying these things to stir the pot and justify his own election, since he lost the popular vote by a wide margin. However, that is not what is at play here.
Time and again over the last two years the media has taken a short term view of Trump’s comments and underestimated his guile and intent. If Trump were truly a clueless unhinged buffoon he never would have gotten this far – George Wallace did not, nor did Huey P. Long or Father Coughlin. What Trump has mastered is demagoguery to advance a long-term vision and goal – in this case it is to disenfranchise likely Democratic-leaning minority voters.
Make no mistake about it – while a handful of respectable Republicans like South Carolina’s US Senator Lindsey Graham publicly chastise Trump for his comments on voter fraud, the silent majority of GOP officeholders and political operatives are representing the majority view in the governing party. They seek to use Trump’s bully pulpit to fire up the masses of white voters around the country to influence certain state legislatures (like the extreme one here in Florida) to further disenfranchise minority voters.
As we approach 2018 and 2020, Republicans need to maintain the advantage they have in many critical states before the redistricting process redraws the rigged lines GOP officeholders have taken advantage of since 2012. The demographic shifts in every mega-state with the exception of Ohio and Pennsylvania are favoring the Democrats, leaving the GOP especially vulnerable in the future. The easiest way to prevent, let’s say Texas from becoming a competitive two-party state at the national level save genocide perhaps, is to disenfranchise voters, using some sort of “academic” or “empirical” evidence to justify it.
Trump has now opened the door for Republican state legislators including here in Florida to further restrict the franchise for non-white voters. Impacted people could include someone like myself who was born in the United States to two parents who at the time were foreign passport holders. A restriction on who can vote and US Citizenship for children born in the United States might be the next move of this administration, all to set the table for the GOP to maintain majorities around the country in spite of the clear shift in demographics.
One thing that is almost certain is that Trump’s allegations will in itself even without news laws make voting more difficult for Latinos. Why? Voter intimidation from those who believe Trump’s allegations are sure to increase be it from election officials at the local level or vigilante hoodlums that try and intimidate Hispanic voters. This will result in leaving Republicans with a massive advantage entering 2018.
State legislatures like ours in Florida, our neighbors in Geogria or the North Carolina Assembly might anxiously rush to restrict voting rights further thanks to the allegations of the President.
Some like to laugh and Donald Trump and those in media paint him as an unhinged demagogue – that is only partially true – he certainly knows what he is doing with these strategically timed and cynical allegations.