It begins with a lie. A lie so outrageous, so preposterous it titillates simple minds and seduces those who should know better because they want to believe the lie. The lie is crucial because it serves an important purpose — to delegitimize. The lie can subvert and undermine legal authorities, as in, “The president was born in Kenya.” Regardless of birth certificates provided, the lie plays to racist fears of a black man being president. The lie keeps embers of hatred simmering while maintaining the father of the lie in the spotlight, gaslighting as the self-professed crusader for truth.
We should not have been surprised that when communities of color along with progressive whites elected a black president, white supremacy initiated the greatest wave of voter suppression since the days of Jim and Jane Crow. The success of voter suppression in states (like Wisconsin which suppressed 200,000 voters allowing Trump to win by 22,748 voters) led whites — specifically 81 percent of evangelicals — to elect the most racist president in decades, a man whose political debut was based on a racially motivated campaign against five men of color wrongly accused of raping a jogger in Central Park; a man who made his business fortune (besides through inheritance) by redlining blacks from his apartment complexes.
Shortly after the 2016 election, the instigator of the birther movement gave us a new lie to ponder, one whose purpose was to delegitimize the democratic process and explain away how, even after winning the Electoral College (306 to 232), he still lost the popular election by almost 2.9 million votes. According to a tweet, Trump stated he actually won the popular vote in the general election, but fell short because “over three million illegals [sic] voted in California.” No evidence was given, no verification need be offered, because the burden of proof now rests not with the liar, but with the one reproached. In the era of Trump, unless proven false, a lie remains true.
In an election where over 137.7 million votes were cast, investigative reports based on scholarly evidence demonstrates voter fraud was a minuscule problem. The 2016 election was “plagued” with possibly 63 credible alleged cases of suspected fraud. These numbers are in line with an earlier three-year study conducted by the U.S. Justice Department, under then-President George W. Bush, which discovered out of all the votes cast during the 2000, 2002 and 2004 federal elections, only 26 individuals fraudulently registered to vote, or voted fraudulently.
Nevertheless, the lie is perpetuated because if the electoral process is questioned, laws can be passed to privilege those who might not be able to win otherwise. Justifying the passage of laws to undermine the democratic process and the will of the people is a hard sell; it is easier to push for laws protecting the integrity of the voting booth based on the myth of voter fraud.
The hatred by whites toward people of color is so severe, it refuses to simply stop at voter suppression. Whites are willing to sacrifice their cherished ideas of democracy to insure the disenfranchised remain voiceless. A new poll shows half of Republicans support postponing the 2020 election due to fear of an unfounded, unproven and nonexistent voter fraud. Whites, who were quick to create Tea Parties to oppose the so-called dictatorial acts of a black president (a president who actually won the majority of votes — twice) are the same ones who are calling for the suspension of the democratic process. Better to have someone whose racism is only surpassed by their incompetence in the White House then to allow communities of color to have a political voice.
Not long ago a liberal white colleague challenged me on how I should speak to white people who support Trump in hopes of raising consciousness. Once again, it becomes the responsibility of those who are being marginalized by white supremacy to meekly approach the master’s table to politely discuss scraps. With the boot of voter suppression on our necks, with a Justice Department determined to swell private prisons with our bodies, with walls deigned to litter deserts with our remains, the problem and solution for the current assault on our presence is shifted to those victimized by Trumpetiers. So really, what can I ever say that will be heard? Anything I say would be dismissed as the ranting of some angry Latino who hates white people.
For my own sanity, for my own well-being, I have decided I have nothing to say to ideologues because they have no desire to hear my voice, demonstrated by their hell-bent crusade to suppress my vote and suppress my very existence. I will love by resisting the institutional sin which suppresses the votes of those on the margins. I will love by resisting the institutional sin designed to keep the White House white.