Politicians lie. It’s a fact of life. Some more than others. Some creatively, some crudely, some congenitally.
None more than President Donald Trump.
Some lies are costly, some can be dangerous.
Trump scored a twofer with his spurious charge that “between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.”
It was pure fantasy, as when he ordered press secretary Sean Spicer to declare that the inauguration crowd the day before had been the greatest in history. It was a blatant lie, Spicer later confessed.
Trump has this thing about exaggerating, whether it is crowd size, his wealth, his body parts or his achievements.
The only record set in his election last fall was that he lost the popular vote by the largest margin ever while still winning the electoral vote.
Facts have never been an obstacle for Trump.
He simply declares everything he doesn’t like to be “fake news,” like the size of Hillary Clinton’s popular vote, and sets up a commission to validate his lies. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but so what, it’s not out of his pocket. In the end it will be like his charge that president Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower and the 1,145 other lies and misleading claims the Washington Post Fact Checker tabulated in Trump’s first 232 days in office.
But the real damage in this Trump whopper – they grow at the rate of five a day, according to the Post’s tally – isn’t how much taxpayer money it will waste but how it threatens to disenfranchise millions of American voters.
Neither Trump nor any reliable person has come up with a shred of evidence of widespread – or even minor – voter fraud in the last election. Such charges are a ruse used by Republicans and the alt-right to limit access to the polls by millions of Americans unlikely to vote their way.
These undesirables include college students, African Americans, immigrants, the elderly, transgenders, Latinos and Hispanics, liberals, progressives and Democrats. Jews voted 77% for Clinton last year, second only to blacks at 88%, making both targets.
Race has a lot to do with it, just as it did with Trump’s latest attacks on the NFL and NBA. In his view SOB’s and bad people take a knee at sporting events but “fine people” march with swastikas and confederate flags.
The greatest voter fraud of the 21st century is his oxymoronic Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair, a pair with long histories of trying to disenfranchise minority and other voters.
Kobach, who hopes this crusade will take him to the Kansas governor’s mansion next year, is willing to “torture any truth, distort any data and fudge any fact in service to his long-standing goal of suppressing votes, specifically those likely to favor Democrats,” opined the Washington Post.
Trump packed the commission with like-minded members, like Hans A. von Spakovsky, who objected to naming Democrats and “mainstream” Republicans to the bipartisan panel because they will just “obstruct any investigation.”
Kobach, who is also a paid contributor for the alt-right Breitbart News, has been rebuked by courts and voting rights advocates and others for his specious charges. His column in Breitbart alleging massive fraud in the New Hampshire Senate election has been repeatedly debunked by state election officials and reporters, yet he clings to them.
Beyond unproven claims by Kobach, Trump and like-minded others, there has been no evidence of any voter fraud that would have changed the results in any precinct, much less an entire state or the nation. Yet they cling to that fantasy as a cover for their real mission, massive voter suppression.
The commission will be creating its own set of facts and recommendations that Trump can turn into executive orders and legislation aimed at restricting access to the polls by voters not considered reliably Republican.
A Loyola Law School study found only 31 credible incidents of voter impersonation among more than one billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014, reported the Washington Post, “but that hasn’t dampened Republican efforts to pass a spate of strict voter ID laws since 2008.”
University of California, San Diego researchers found that “Voter ID laws skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right.”
That drives the wave of voting restrictions across the country, almost exclusively enacted by Republican legislatures, and that is what the Pence-Kobach commission seeks to expand.
Just a month before last year’s election, while he was still governor of Indiana, Pence had his state police raid the office of the Indiana Voter Registration Project, which was signing up African Americans to vote. The group was accused of fraud when it uncovered discrepancies in state voter records.
Indiana’s strict voter ID laws were responsible for a decrease in voter turnout last year, according to Huffington Post.
It is difficult to not look at these voter ID laws and other measures restricting access to the polls as predominantly racially inspired.
Racism has been a Trump hallmark, with his history of racial discrimination in real estate, and it has gotten dramatically worse since then.
Birtherism was nothing less than a racist campaign, which he dominated, to delegitimize the election of the first African American president. That has been followed by a string of moves by Trump to invalidate Obama’s record. His defense of those “fine” people marching with Nazi and Confederate flags in Charlottesville, and his attacks on the “son of a bitch” NFL and NBA players – predominantly black – who, in his demented view, disrespect the flag by exercising their First Amendment rights.
This misnamed Commission on Election Integrity is racism, bigotry, xenophobia and raw partisan politics and ego gratification at its worst.
Taxpayers shouldn’t have to shell out millions so this bogus body can save the face of a pathological liar while leading the way to disenfranchising millions of American voters.
In a country where more than 90 million Americans didn’t go to the polls, whether out of apathy or because of obstructions, the president of the United States should be leading a campaign to get more people to participate in American democracy, not erecting barriers with sham commissions and ego-driven lies to keep them away.