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Est. April 5, 2002
July 16, 2020 - Issue 827
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GOP Suppression v. Dem Turnout

"Biden and the Democrats seem unable to accept
the fact that there are no boundaries to what Trump
will do to win.  He will sacrifice anyone, commit any
political crime, and go beyond all limits of personal a
nd political decency to prevail!"

Trump and his GOP disciples are already far along in implementing his reelection agenda for 2020 and systematically executing several schemes designed to increase the turnout of conservative white voters while lowering that of their minority counterparts. In the meantime, Democrats appear to have been lulled to political sleep by Biden’s continuing lead in national and in key battleground state polls and do not understand that Trump’s polling deficit in the battlefield states has been consistently within and/or near the margin of error.

If he can maintain his present status, he can win. Trump is relying on the tried-and-true approach to winning elections, getting more of your voters to the polls than your opponent does, and he is putting the strategies into place to do just that as evidenced by the 2:1 advantage of Trump’s voter enthusiasm over Biden’s voter enthusiasm.

The print and broadcast media are, perhaps unwittingly, rallying Trump’s voters to stand with him while he continuously feeds their political appetites with hearty doses of racial intolerance, anti-immigrant fervor, white nationalism, and an embrace of the Confederacy as the favored history of our nation.

Trump’s voters are gearing up to turn out in unprecedented numbers while Biden’s campaign continues to coast without giving adequate attention to the possibility of the rising of a last minute, unexpected political tsunami capable of derailing his march to victory. In addition, Biden and the Democrats seem unable to accept the fact that there are no boundaries to what Trump will do to win. He will sacrifice anyone, commit any political crime, and go beyond all limits of personal and political decency to prevail!

Trump is already on track to sanction the deaths of school children and their teachers with his insistent push to reopen schools by fall despite the surge in COVID-19 infection and increasing deaths. Many have concluded that this is another example of his poor presidential leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, but a closer analysis reveals a more sinister political plan.

Since the COVID-19 crisis is occurring in red states which Trump won in 2016 but is trailing in now—Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina—this distraction could yield rich electoral returns. During the chaos that will surely ensue once school openings start, Trump’s Republican acolytes, who are in political control in nearly all the aforementioned states, will spring into action to suppress minority turnout as it will determine whether Trump or Biden carries the state.

These procedures will include: long voting lines, the further reduction of voting precincts in communities of color, voter ID challenges in those states where it is a requirement, eleventh hour purging of minority voters from the rolls, and the escalating fear of the pandemic and general indifference once the deaths among voters’ family members rise.

As a result, the first-time experience of having to vote under such dire circumstances places Democratic voters, with already documented moderate to low enthusiasm for Biden, at a distinct disadvantage. On the other hand, Trump voters are accustomed to looking past his constantly evolving antics. His campaign operatives are in regular contact with his 30-42 percent base and continuously revving up their turnout.

Trump’s piggybacking of political schisms in the progressive and African American communities is a second distraction that could cause a lack of focus within the Biden campaign. In Atlanta, Paul Howard, the Fulton County district attorney who filed felony murder charges against the white cop, Garrett Rolfe, who shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, in the back, as he ran away with no weapon, is being challenged by Fani Willis, a Black female and Howard’s former top deputy.

Two-time white candidate for mayor of Atlanta and a Trump supporter, Mary Norwood, is backing Willis who bested Howard, a two-decade incumbent, by six percentage points in the primary. Howard is currently under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for ethics violations. Norwood has also enlisted her wealthy white benefactors to fund Willis as well.

The Atlanta police union and the current and former African American police chiefs have also endorsed Willis. This race has split the political allegiances and interests of the Black community. Although the runoff is scheduled for August 11th, the animosities are likely to carry over to the November election. This conundrum could dampen any prospects of Georgia being in play for Biden on November 3rd. 

These diversions are placing Trump in a competitive position, enhancing his ability to maintain his edge, and may help him win the state again and secure his reelection. Trump has proven that he is a master at causing political upheavals. So we can be certain that there will be other manufactured political diversions as he goes into the last months of the campaign.

Despite its moral and political repulsiveness, Trump’s sinister manipulation of COVID-19 for political advantage may prove to have a silver lining as he pulls out all stops for victory. Biden appears to be on a glide path to the presidency, but it is still too early for him to be measuring drapes for the Oval Office.

As urged before, if Democrats and Biden hope to retake the Presidency and the Senate, they will be wise to step up their ground game and energize their voters. Democratic base turnout will be the key to winning, as it proved not to be in the 2016 election. Another 59 percent-level participation rate among African Americans—the lowest since 2000—will not propel Biden over the top. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
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