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If there were any doubt left that Donald Trump is a narcissistic, demonizing spinner of half-truths and outright lies, the case has been rested.

Closing arguments came in stunning performance by the 2016 GOP presidential candidate himself, live and televised. The Republican Party’s choice for the next occupant of the White House intends to seize upon people’s fears and transform the nation into an isolationist country, inwardly focused and always on the lookout for scapegoats. Trump fancies himself as some sort of dictatorial leader at the helm.

“I am your voice,” he declared, addressing the “forgotten men and women” of America. Then he proceeded to tell them who they can blame for their woes: immigrants, foreign countries and, of course, Hillary Clinton.

Thursday night’s address to the Republican National Convention was the most scripted, controlled, practiced and vetted speech from Trump so far. And it dug deeply into a philosophy that is antagonistic to the values our nation was founded upon. Trump showed a disturbing lack of insight and respect for the ideals that are carved in stone at the nation’s landmarks and ingrained into our laws and constitution.

The creepiest part of Trump’s speech was watching him seemingly struggle to read his own children’s names off of the teleprompter. It wasn’t that he doesn’t love his family, or is forgetful. Rather, Trump was on lockdown.

He didn’t dare stray too far from the prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of time to media. Trump rogue wasn’t going to be allowed at the convention closing. No matter. What he delivered was the truth of how he sees America and how he believes himself to be the superhero that will rectify the nation’s woes.

Zap! Flash! Bam! After his coronation on January 20, 2017, violent neighborhoods will suddenly begin to be safe, millions will be employed and prosperous, crime will plummet, gangs will be no more and terrorism will be obliterated. Oh, and those awful undocumented immigrants, they will be sent packing, and Trump will slam the door in the face of anyone he deems to endorse violence, hatred or oppression.

Sometimes, the more a person talks about an issue, the more apparent it becomes how little he understands it — or, in this case, how little he understands the people he claims to care about. For example, Trump listed some statistics on black and Latino unemployment and then blamed illegal immigration for the disproportions.

He mentioned the shooting deaths of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, vowing to protect the LGBTQ community from terrorism and violence. But he made no mention of the problem they face daily — namely, the type of discrimination that so many Republicans show when fighting same-sex marriage and other civil rights protections.

For Trump, unity is a matter of finding a scapegoat, some person or group we can all hate together. That makes it so much easier to avoid the messy complexities and moral ambiguities that inform actual policy making.

Yet leadership is about good policy. Any candidate can condemn the recent murders of police. It’s something we all concur with. But what are you going to do about police training and oversight? How are you going to rebuild broken trust with communities? What are you going to do about entrenched poverty, addiction, child abuse, domestic violence and the myriad other factors that feed crime and despair? How are you going to reassure African-Americans and Latinos and poorer people of all races that they will be treated with the same consideration and justice as white people?

Trump doesn’t say — a good indication he doesn’t care.

To him, our nation’s problems don’t need collective solutions. Unity, solidarity and common burden aren’t necessary. All we need is a strong leader. We’re going to be so dazzled by the way he humiliates and punishes our enemies, he seems to tell us, that we don’t need to worry about the details. “Believe me!”

Now it’s onto the Democratic convention in Philadelphia and Hillary Clinton’s moment to formally accept her party’s nomination.

Clinton, for sure, has her own problems with authenticity and appeal. But she’s never been possessed with a penchant to cast herself as a savior. And she’s not standing atop a party platform that seeks to sort the nation into those who are inherently more worthy and those who are not. Maybe voters will decide that that makes Clinton too much of the same-old, same-old.

But that is also the point. America’s problems are possible to tackle. Democracy is set up to function that way. If we want a better future, Americans must commit to honesty and diligence and common cause — not to the strongman fantasy Trump is selling.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at


Photo: Donald Trump stands in the Trump family box with his daughter Ivanka awaiting the arrival onstage of his son Eric at the conclusion of former rival candidate Senator Ted Cruz’s address, during the third night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

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