By Michael Leppert
It has been a big week in the
presidential election. Presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden announced his
running mate on Tuesday. And though his pick of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California,
should not have surprised anyone, it still managed to catch a few people off
guard. She was always the most likely, and most conventional selection in my
mind. Republicans had planned to be aghast at whoever was chosen, though the
authenticity of their shock could have been planned better.
Within 48 hours, the Trump campaign threw a series of objections
to Harris up against the wall, blindly hoping something would stick. By late
Thursday, two ghastly strategies of their own emerged. First, openly hamper the
U.S. Postal Service by blocking necessary funding. Second, promote disgusting
claims that Harris is somehow “not eligible” for the ballot as someone not born
in the United States. The latter theory is a reboot of “birtherism” that
President Trump promoted against former President Barack Obama nearly a decade
ago. It’s blatantly racist, not to mention stupid, as Harris was born in
Oakland, California. Strategically, it will only hurt Trump’s already wounded
Rivaling that repeat of an old bigoted political approach, even
on the “Only-in-2020” scale, is President Trump’s attack on mail-in voting by
blocking funding for the USPS. Thursday morning, on a phone call into Fox News,
Trump said Democrats need to agree to a deal on COVID-19 funding. “If we don’t
make a deal, that means they don’t get the (Postal Service) money…that means
they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it.”
The president of the United States is openly discouraging voting
access by opposing funding of the most popular agency in the federal
government. It is an agency enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Article 1,
Section 8, Clause 7 empowers Congress “”to establish Post Offices and Post
Roads.” Why do I think it is the most popular? Because Pew Research surveyed
that very question in 2019, showing that 90% of Americans have a favorable view
of the Postal Service. The National Park Service, my personal favorite ever
since I visited Joshua Tree National Park, finished second at 86%. I admittedly
have a bias for NPS.
The Team Trump strategy to hamper the Postal Service to gain
some much-needed help with his reelection on November 3 is bigger than him,
though. Oh sure, all 435 members of the U.S. House are running, too. And let’s
not forget those deliberative souls in the U.S. Senate! A third of those seats
are also up in 2020. But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
And 86 of the nation’s 99 state legislative bodies are holding
elections this year, with nearly all individual seats in play. Eleven of the
states have gubernatorial elections to go with them. And these are the people
who will draw congressional and legislative maps next year–maps that will be in
place for the next 10 elections.
Mr. President, there are actually thousands of elections
occurring, not just one. Any candidate for office I have ever known has always
worked to make sure their voters showed up on Election Day. It’s just part of
the game. Always has been.
But in 2016, Trump spent most of the summer trying to convince
people that the election was “rigged,” particularly if he lost, I guess, and is
now actively trying to drive down participation as our president. If
successful, he will also negatively impact government representation from coast
to coast and at every level. There isn’t even any data that shows his corrupt
game-plan will serve his own campaign.
There is a long list of down-ballot candidates, even on the
Republican side, who need every last supporter in their districts to cast their
votes. What state legislator, attorney general or local sheriff candidate is
running on voter suppression while knocking on doors? Oh, yea, the Trump
virus makes knocking on doors too dangerous this year – more reason why
expanded mail-in voting is needed.
The generic outrage that this
nefarious act should cause for all Americans aside, all candidates running should
be united against this scheme. I would love to hear from someone standing for
office in less than three months who wants this Trumpian farce driving away
their voters. Call me if you are out there.
This flailing away at our country’s first Black and
Asian-American woman on the national ticket won’t impress anyone. His second
swing at birtherism simply won’t work.
Corrupting the process might be the only tool that might. And
every candidate for office this year should be speaking up.
is a public and governmental affairs consultant in Indianapolis and writes his
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