Reprinted with permission from Alternet
One of President Donald Trump’s surprising virtues is that, because of his lack of filter and his tendency for obliviousness, he is occasionally explicit about parts of Republican Party orthodoxy that more circumspect members avoid saying directly.
And on Monday morning in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump let slip a truth that has long been known but frequently been denied about the GOP: They prefer for fewer people to vote so they can hold on to power.
He was responding to a question from a viewer who was concerned about “special interest projects” included in the coronavirus relief bills. Erroneously and mendaciously, Trump implied that only Democrats use big pieces of legislation to fund special interest items that they feel are important for their personal electoral chances.
But then he slammed the Democrats for the reforms and funding they pushed to make it easier for people to vote in the wake of the pandemic. They had hoped to get $2 billion to fund this effort, but they eventually settled for $400 million, which experts believe is insufficient.
“The things they had in their were crazy,” Trump said of provisions Democrats wanted in the legislation. “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again. They had things in there about election days, and what you do…”
So he essentially admitted it: If more people have access to voting, Republicans can’t win elections. A person who actually believes in democracy would conclude that would mean there’s something wrong with the Republican Party. But Republicans like Trump, instead, conclude that there’s something wrong with people voting. That’s why the GOP tries so hard to put roadblocks in the way of voters, especially voters it doesn’t expect to vote Republican.
In reality, Trump’s factual claims are actually somewhat misguided. While some voting reforms would likely increase support for Democrats and Democratic policies, others might not. And right now, in the wake of a disease outbreak that is much more deadly for older people — a key Republican demographic — making it easier to vote by mail might actually redound to the GOP’s benefits.
Over time, if voting access were more widely available and the electorate became more broadly progressive, the Republican Party wouldn’t disappear. It would evolve and change, and likely shift to the left, to better appeal to the people who are voting. If you’re a conservative Republican right now, you might understandably be concerned about this possibility, but you can only oppose it if you abandon a strong commitment to democratic principles.