*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
There are a few fairly well-known sayings that are apropos to the current situation establishment Republicans find themselves in since Donald Trump took command of the Republican Party. “You reap what you sow,” “you get what you deserve,” “sleep in the bed you made” and in the recording industry audio engineers all say “crap in, crap out;” which is precisely what Republicans are getting with Donald Trump, crap.
This column has preached, ad nauseam, over the past year that Donald Trump would be negotiating for another reality television show on public access cable if establishment Republicans hadn’t prepared the bigoted, religious, xenophobic and angry base supporting his presidential campaign and propelling him to the nomination. Now Republicans are paying a heavy price for cultivating a base for a fascist like Trump to manipulate and they are beginning to be legitimately concerned that another one of the favorite “issues” has the potential of disrupting the upcoming general election, “inciting violence and bloodshed,” and encouraging insurrection with “pitchforks and torches.” Of course all of these frightening “concerns” are due to Donald J. Trump’s increasingly loud rhetoric that the general election is already rigged and voter fraud will be massive and outrageous.
Republicans haven’t claimed elections are rigged over the past eight years, but they have screamed like banshees that there is rampant voter fraud helping Democrats who keep losing miserably in state elections. Since 2008, working in concert with the Koch brothers legislative mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Republicans have used fear of massive vote fraud to pass voter-suppression and obstruction laws in the states regardless there is no such thing as vote fraud; unless one calls 31 incidents of ‘suspected’ vote fraud nationwide out of over 1.2 billion votes cast in 14 years “massive vote fraud” or a reason to obstruct and restrict voting access.
It is that eight years of screaming voter fraud that allows Trump to rile up his supporters and give election officials reason to worry; particularly on the Republican side. The New York Times reported that the Republican leadership and both party’s election officials are rallying to combat Trump’s lies that the upcoming election is already rigged against his candidacy. Republicans are particularly concerned because they are seeing clear signs that Trump’s “rigged election” rhetoric is “eroding confidence in the vote process and setting off talk of rebellion among his supporters.”
If Republicans and their Koch allies (ALEC) had not spent the past eight years telling their supporters the elections are fraudulent when they don’t win, Trump’s supporters would see his rhetoric as the conspiracy job it is. Instead, they seriously believe Trump when he alleges in campaign speeches that there is a carefully-orchestrated conspiracy between the Democratic Party and media to “commit vast election fraud,” even though he never even tries to support that “certainty” with any evidence.
Trump has really included everyone in the conspiracy against him because he included Republican election officials overseeing polling places in over half the states with the media, the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton of rigging the election against him; a bizarre statement that Trump’s supporters take to heart like religion. Trump issued a statement via Twitter on Sunday:
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media… — but also at many polling places — SAD.”
Trump’s rhetoric did not sit well with Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, who said he “would have no reason to hesitate to certify the election’s results.” Husted said Trump was “engaging in irresponsible rhetoric” for questioning the integrity of elections without evidence. “We have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We are going to run a good, clean election in Ohio, like we always do.”
It is noteworthy that because American elections are “decentralized” to individual state’s oversight, it is “extraordinarily unlikely” there is even a possibility of what Trump says is “vast election fraud.” This is particularly true in so-called battle-ground states that are all under Republican election officials’ purview and there is no way in the proverbial Hell a Republican official is going to commit massive election fraud for Hillary Clinton or convince myriad Republican election boards to commit “vast election fraud” to give Democratic candidates victories over Republicans.
One of the Republicans’ leading election lawyers, Chris Ashby, said what many observers have said for months; Trump’s attacking the election process is “unprecedented” and risks “creating a fiasco on Election Day.” Another point of concern for Ashby was that Trump is “destabilizing” the election by inciting his angry supporters to “deputize themselves” as vigilante voting booth monitors; outside the bounds of the law and likely armed when not bound by the law. Mr. Ashby expressed the precise feeling among many Americans already worried that Trump mobilized vigilante voting gangs “that’s going to create a disturbance and, played out in polling places across the country, it has the potential to destabilize the election; which is very, very dangerous.”
Civil rights groups are just as concerned as Republican elections officials and are expressing alarm over Trump’s remarks “that they see as goading his supporters to intimidate minorities at the polls.” The executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Education Fund, Arturo Vargas, said he was planning to formally contact the Justice Department to request that it acts to “guard against voting booth disruptions” Trump called on his acolytes to commit. Mr. Vargas said, “It is a major concern that we have this candidate promoting vigilante poll watching.”
Vargas’ concerns were echoed by the political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Michael Podhorzer who said fair elections’ groups are “deeply concerned about the possibility of disruptions at the polls on Election Day.” Mr. Podhorzer said that Democrats would closely monitor polling places “for signs of interference” in the states where early voting is allowed; especially after Trump’s recently increased rhetoric about a rigged election the he says has “the potential to incite violence and bloodshed. We will start to see whether folks are out intimidating voters in predominantly African-American communities, and at least get a sense of what direction that might be going in.” Podhorzer added that Trump’s Rigged election comments are “beyond the pale.”
Those comments are also extremely dangerous because Trump has followed eight long years of Republicans crying election and voting fraud with a call to action by his supporters who are primed and ready for action. Donald Trump was never concerned about the election process while he was dominating the Republican primaries, and if the current national polling was reversed he would be touting America’s “fabulous” electoral process as the epitome of a successful democracy.
One sincerely hopes that the Department of Justice does step up and protect the integrity of the electoral process starting where elections are won or lost: the voting booth. One wants to remind Mr. Trump that the corporate media does not control election results any more than Hillary Clinton does.
Unfortunately, Trump is so finely attuned to what his supporters have been inculcated to believe and it is probably true that when Trump says the election is already rigged, his subjects believe him. The danger is that their rage will drive them to take action that is likely to create a disturbance, destabilize the election and “set off talk of violence and insurrection” among his devotees.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.