Careful What You Wish For

Nothing scares the you-know-what out of me more than hyper-confident progressive predictions that Donald Trump is guaranteed to lose the 2016 election in the event that the bigoted billionaire secures the Republican presidential nomination.

Yes, we’d like to think that American voters would of course reject the negativity and nastiness of this wealthy wingnut, but that’s far from certain. In addition, even if most voters wanted to say no, the combination of rampant right-wing voter suppression and unverifiable voting systems could result in a “yes” for The Donald.

To put it another way, eternal vigilance against voter suppression and unverifiable voting systems is the price of liberty, especially for progressives. Does anyone doubt that if Trump becomes the GOP nominee, he will sanction the most aggressive voter-suppression efforts of the post-Voting Rights Act era? Does anyone doubt that if the chicanery of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections manifests itself again in 2016, it could have a catastrophic impact on American democracy?

If Trump secures the Republican presidential nomination, progressives should not arrogantly assume that his chances of winning the presidency are nonexistent. If enough Democratic-leaning voters are effectively prevented from casting a ballot, and if unverifiable voting systems report results contrary to the intentions of those who were able to vote, we could indeed see Trump’s hand on the Bible on January 20, 2017.

Remember back in 2008, when determined democracy defenders such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warned about right-wing efforts to “block the vote”?

If Trump secures the GOP nomination, let’s hope we see similar vigilance. Voter suppression and unverifiable voting systems are the dirty little secrets of modern American politics; as Thom Hartmann has noted, Democrats in particular seem disinclined to discuss right-wing voter suppression efforts, due to the bizarre assumption that it would somehow deter Democratic-leaning voters from turning out on Election Day. I don’t quite understand that logic.

Everyone knows the famous line from Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Progressives obviously hope that line will apply to Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee…but if they’re not vigilant about the risks of voter suppression and unverifiable voting systems, that line could well apply to Trump’s opponent.

UPDATE: More from Brad Friedman and Bev Harris, Politico and the New York Times.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.