Suppression is Coming

6 mins read
Occupy Wall Street joined the NAACP as thousands marched in midtown Manhattan on December 10, 2011 to defend voting rights. Photo by Michael Fleshman. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The great thing about Donald Trump (Yes, I really said that) is that he strips away all the euphemisms. There’s no more cheap talk about two parties with different ideas but the same overall goal. In Trumpworld, it’s about either winning for your people, or losing to those people; we are no longer in it together. My America and your America are no longer the same place. As frustrating as that climate is for us regular folk, there is a kind of freedom to Trump’s lizard-brained approach to politics. He likes some of us, and he hates some of us, and he doesn’t fuck around about it. As much as I might hate him right back, I at least appreciate the accidental honesty with which he’s beginning to operate.

For example, in recent weeks, GOP Secretaries of State in Ohio and Georgia have purged about half a million voters from the rolls. In past administrations, there would be lots of excuses – by white people, and for white people – about inactivity and election security, the typical pre-Trump bullshit. Talking head after talking head would go on air and fill endless segments with excrement-laden reasons why the GOP felt it was necessary to strip people of their voting rights. But now we don’t have to worry about all that. Now it’s plain and simple, and no one bothers with the old lies anymore. Water is wet. Sky is blue. Stormy is a liar. Mexicans are rapists. And only the right people deserve to vote.

Political life without the euphemisms is ugly, but it’s not inefficient. For example, I no longer have to accuse the GOP of racism, because they no longer bother to deny it, at least not in any way that isn’t laughable. I’m thankful for that. Now I can just skip that part get on to the discussion of how voter suppression is going to be the deciding factor in 2020, and why the GOP has known this since very early on in the Trump presidency.

Donald Trump may be president, but the coalition that made him such is gone. Traditional republicans largely regret their votes, and many powerful players jumped off the Trump train long ago. The Never-Trump republicans have grown steadily since his inauguration, and while the hate-filled rally-ites have been emboldened by his first term, everyone knows they are not enough to win him a second. And democrats, still kicking themselves for staying home in 2016, showed up big in 2018, and are about to do so again, no matter who the candidate turns out to be. If the Democrats nominate a floor mop, it’ll get 70 million votes. This is the environment Trump has to navigate if he wants to get reelected; This is why the suppression is just beginning and why it is going to get so much worse.

According to numerous polls, the people who say they will vote for “Anyone but Trump” is roughly half the electorate, give or take a few percentage points. Roughly 55% of Americans support both impeachment and removal. Even as democratic candidates fumble through ham-handed attempts to create contrasts between one another, the electorate seems to have no interest at all in who wins, as long as the eventual winner doesn’t start abusing the self-tanner and rage tweeting 75 times a day. The penalty for running an administration on hatred and division is dealing with a country so divided that no one is persuadable. We chose our camps long ago, and no one is on the fence about much of anything. Since half the electorate has declared their opposition to Trump before they even have a candidate to support, and there are no more votes to go get, the only way for Team Trump to win is to reduce the number of votes available to his opponent. This is almost certainly going to be the GOP’s plan.

Late changes in polling locations. Fewer voting machines in urban areas. Locations being moved away from public transportation. Purges. Voter ID changes. Poll watchers. Intimidation. All of it and more. And all on the heels of a massive disinformation campaign designed to sow despair and make us believe that all of Washington is corrupt, that no one deserves our support, and that the best use of our time on election day would be to take a long nap. Old tricks from old politicians using new friends from countries that don’t like us very much. It’s a recipe for the ugliest campaign in American history.

Expect it.


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Brett Pransky is a teacher, a father, and a writer, but not necessarily in that order. When not engaged in the good fight, he spends his time as a mild-mannered English professor at Ohio University. Find him on Twitter @BrettPransky.

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