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Trump's Lies and a Dangerous Truth

While Donald Trump doubled down on his lie that the election was rigged and the presidency was stolen from him, and while at the Conservative Political Action Conference Feb. 28 he warned non-compliant Republicans he's coming for them, there was one dangerous truth that emerged.

That truth is this: he, as the titular leader of the GOP, will do everything in his power to make it harder for people to vote because that is the only way Republicans can win national elections. He's said it before and he made that abundantly clear once again in his delusional CPAC speech filled with what CNN's Jim Acosta said was a "firehose of lies."

“Another one of the most urgent issues facing the Republican Party is that of ensuring fair, honest, and secure elections,” Trump said. “We must pass comprehensive election reforms, and we must do it now.”

All of that sounds good. Who doesn't want "fair, honest, and secure elections?"

The problem is that we already have them, and even his administration's own top election official, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs, said the 2020 presidential election was the "most secure in American history." Krebs, of course, was subsequently fired.

But what Trump really was saying was that those "election reforms" need to make it harder for people to vote. He accused Democrats of using the “China virus” as an “excuse” to make vote-by-mail easier, which Trump spent months warning against and even tried to sabotage the Postal Service to slow down ballots and discourage voting by mail for fear that ballots would not be delivered on time.

Last April he said voting by mail would mean doom for Republicans, warning that they would lose every election.

“We can never let that happen again,” Trump said at CPAC. “We need election integrity and election reform immediately. Republicans should be the party of honest elections.”

In other words, Republicans should be the party of closed elections, elections in which only those who are able to go to the polls and stand in line on election day should be able to participate. Forget those without transportation, or the sick, infirm, or those who must work on election day.

State Suppression

Taking a lesson from the election, in which voting by mail and early absentee voting was expanded in many states due to the pandemic, Republicans are already acting in many of those states to impose new restrictions on voting, trying to tilt the playing field in their favor. As it turned out, voting by mail proved to be highly popular among Democrats; not so much for Republican voters.

Georgia and Texas were two states at the heart of the 2020 election controversy, both becoming increasingly competitive because of demographic changes, so Republicans are busy in both states trying to protect their turf.

The New York Times reported Feb. 27 that this is happening in many states nationwide as Republicans try to change the rules to bolster their own political power.

Those efforts, The Times reported, include bills restricting mail-in ballots, as well as "tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules for the benefit of Republicans; clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives; and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections, which were crucial to the smooth November vote."

So much for assuring fair and honest elections. Take away the funds needed to help make elections run smoother. That's the way to reform the system, the Republicans say.

The National GOP

The Republican National Committee joined the movement in mid-February when it announced creation of a Committee on Election Integrity to scrutinize state election laws and advocate for "election transparency."

Said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, “Election integrity is one of the most critical issues we face as a Party and as a country. What we saw this past election – states undoing important safeguards, bypassing the proper legislative processes, and changing election laws in the eleventh hour – was deeply troubling and brought chaos and uncertainty to our sacred democratic processes.”

She added, “As RNC Chair, I will not sit idly by and the Party will respond. The RNC will play a crucial role in restoring confidence in our elections, promoting election integrity, and recommending best practices to ensure that future elections are free, fair, and transparent.”

Among the reforms Republicans claim produced fraud were no excuse absentee voting and the use of government-monitored drop boxes to collect ballots. Of course, the fact that the nation was in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when millions of people were afraid to go to the polls made no difference to Trump or to the Republicans who backed his lies of fraud and a "rigged" election.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which helps elect Republicans to state legislative seats across the country, also announced that it will join in the GOP battle to make it harder for people to participate in our democracy. It has established a “commission to restore the American people’s confidence in the integrity of their free and fair elections.”

In other words, with the RNC, it will help expand to the states the Trump-led GOP effort to make the GOP the party of voter suppression. Add that label to "the party of hate," for which Trump is responsible.

All of this means Democratic leaders must fight back, using the power that comes with control of the Presidency and the Congress -- albeit narrowly -- to expand and ensure voting rights for every American.

Donald Trump and his lies will some day be gone. But the impact of what he has done, and is still trying to do, will last for years unless Democrats stand up and say "No."

Yes, we need fair and honest elections. Let's make sure that truly is the case.

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