Never one for subtlety, Donald Trump recently opted to trade-in his Republican dog whistle for a megaphone when he shouted to a crowd of supporters in Colorado Springs, Colorado that “people” in the heavily minority cities of Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis were going to steal the election from him by committing massive voter fraud.
Now, on the heels of these baseless allegations comes news that Vote Protectors, a group affiliated with Trump hatchet man Roger Stone, plans to send volunteers to “monitor” polling places in nine cities with high minority populations on Election Day. Trump’s latest strategy to suppress the votes of African-Americans, women and what he calls idealistic whites is clearly beyond the pale. Moreover, this “strategy” is antithetical to the democratic process, as well as an affront to African-Americans who Trump continues to pretend to be courting.
It’s also ridiculous given that Trump is crying that the system is rigged while he is simultaneously working to discourage voting amongst key groups that he knows wholeheartedly reject his failed campaign. Michelle Obama said it best at a recent rally in Salem North Carolina when she said the ultimate “going high” is to vote. The first lady impressed upon the college age crowd of 14,000 not to be goaded into giving up their voices or their votes.
There is something insidious about a campaign strategy designed to prevent people from voting. Republicans who continue to stand by Donald Trump even as he threatens and undermines every principle of our democracy are beyond shameful. Many did not stand up to him when he characterized Mexicans as rapists; nor did they denounce him when he attacked a Gold star military family or pledged an unconstitutional ban on Muslims. They also sat idly by as Trump repeatedly insulted African-Americans.
It was only Trump’s rank comments regarding sexually assaulting women became public that some Republicans voiced even the slightest concerns. Sadly, racism against key American demographic groups wasn’t enough to motivate GOP leaders such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to sever ties with the toxic Trump.
Courageous African-Americans and whites lost their lives fighting to ensure that the right to vote was guaranteed to all Americans. The Voting Rights Act of 1964 was designed to prevent the very sinister acts that Trump and his team are boasting about. Where are the constitutional scholars? The liberal whites? The civil rights advocates? When will this country once and for all stand up and reject these wholesale assaults on our fundamental principles of democracy?
If those we go to for guidance during difficult times won’t do it, I submit that every day African-Americans, idealistic whites and women have a unique opportunity to step up and fill the leadership void. We should vote in record numbers to not only reject any notion of a Trump presidency, but also to send a message that we cannot be silenced by cynical political strategists.
We are less than two weeks away from the most important election of this century. We have two choices to make. As African-Americans, it’s clear that a Trump presidency will be an unmitigated disaster. He and his cronies will turn back any and all gains that we’ve made since the 1960s. Without question, a Trump administration would support making it harder for African Americans to vote. We can only imagine that the next target will be our right to free counsel in criminal cases; the right to be free of racial harassment in the workplace; the freedom to live in the neighborhoods of choice; and even the right to criticizeTrump without penalty and punishment.
It’s beyond time to be woke. It’s time to band together to protect our families, communities and future generations. It’s time to vote.