Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump’s Trumped Up Charges of Voter Fraud

Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election have fallen to 12.6 percent, based on FiveThirtyEight’s advanced polling model (538). Not only is he losing in most of the swing states, but Utah, Texas and Georgia are in play. It appears Virginia and North Carolina have swung blue and, at present, Trump is only leading in the South by one point, after Obama lost it by 7 percentage points in 2012. All indicators point to a rather comprehensive victory for Hillary Clinton next month.

And yet the insular Trump camp is ramping up their rhetoric of the election being rigged, ignoring all the data and claiming the liberal media and iniquitous Democratic party are planning to somehow “steal” an election that he is badly losing (Fox News). It is not a new strategy, of course, as Republicans have long sought to use the conspiracy theory of stolen elections as a red herring to further suppress the vote of minorities (The Nation). Anyone who pays attention knows that the suppression of black and Latino/a voters in Florida in 2000 paved the way for Bush to actually steal a Presidential election (with the assistance of the conservative Supreme Court, of course), but that is just the tip of the iceberg for a party that knows the only way they can win is by altering the demographics of voters away from the changing demographics of the country itself. Mike Pence, who has distanced himself from Trump’s trumped up charges of a rigged election, is himself involved in suppressing the vote in his own state (Salon) as part of a national campaign to ensure that as few non-white voters take to the polls as possible.

It is the act of a desperate man and a desperate campaign, backed by the crackpots still given a platform to spread their lies. This includes Newt Gingrich, who has chimed in by claiming that we are seeing a media “coup d’état” in which “20 TV executives have decided to destroy [Trump].” Not surprisingly, the strategy is working among many of his supporters, with 73 percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of respondents in total, claiming they think the election could be stolen from Trump, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll (Politico). Will that be enough to swing the election to Trump? It seems unlikely, as only 17 percent of Democrats believed that to be true, and most will probably still vote against him.

What the rhetoric and poll results do tell us, however, is the depths this campaign has sunk to and the susceptibility of too many Americans to the rhetoric of powerful white men and their conspiracy theories. It certainly relates to the bunker mentality of so many conservatives today, who are distrustful of government, the media, all liberals, their neighbors, any movement for social change and, really, anyone who disagrees with them. They are victims of a “plot” to destroy their lives and freedom, which conveniently precludes the very people who benefit the most from their continued economic malaise, or the corporate sponsors at the heart of the conservative movement, growing inequality and the declining quality of life of their own supporters.

It also seems to speak to an electorate that has become too cynical, ill-informed and malleable to make rational choices at the polls. It is certainly not for me to say who or what people should vote for, but when we look at the sorts of lies and misinformation that so easily sways the American electorate – from the reason for the Iraq War, the presence of weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace to global warming doubters, reptilian illuminati and now massive election fraud – one does have to question the sanity of the average American and their ability to make sound, informed decisions on our collective future.

The fact that Trump won the Republican nomination speaks as much to this problem as the slim possibility that he could actually win this election. A disease of skepticism and cynicism has spread across the land, affecting voters on both sides of the aisle and maligning our ability to address the issues that really matter, including our collective future and that fading dream of the “common good.” In yet another example of the depths the candidate is willing to go to win, the campaign has essentially stolen the identity of a Sikh, using his image to claim “Muslim support,” even as he is neither Muslim or a Trump supporter (TPM). In the new postmodern, hyperreal world politics inhabits today, I suppose the most obvious response might be, why not?

The more sensible response is why not, indeed! And while we’re on that track, why not elect a candidate like Donald Trump to further amplify the racism, sexism, xenophobia, Muslim-hatred, violence and irrationality that seems to have infected every corner of American life. The obvious answer to the question may just save us from the abyss a Trump presidency would thrust us into, but even a landslide victory for Clinton will not end the threat of Fascism that has risen like a storm across the world yet again.  

No comments: