President Trump has spent months raging against mail-in voting systems calling them “rigged,”“corrupt,”“fraudulent,” and threatening to withhold funding from the Post Office so the Democrats won’t “steal the election” from him.
And now—surprise!—a lot of people think Trump may want to prevent people from being able to vote by mail.
I mean, how do people come up with the nutty conspiracy theories?
As of Tuesday, at least 21 states were planning to sue the Post Office and U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (a Trump supporter-cum-government-appointee) for operational changes made ahead of the election—including the removal of Post Office dropboxes and sorting machines—which have resulted in mail slowdowns. Oh, and last week the Post Office sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that it could not guarantee that ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.
But don’t worry. There’s nothing to see here. And to prove it, on Tuesday DeJoy said he would suspend making even more changes until after the election just to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
So case closed! Republican National Committee Spokeswoman Liz Harrington said in a Monday email titled “Debunking the Democrats’ (latest) conspiracy theory” that anyone who believes Trump might have attempted to tamper with the mail-in voting is “completely untethered from reality.” Which is . . . kind of a strange way to characterize the people who take what her boss says seriously. Or literally. Or whatever.
In a normal election year, without coronavirus and a sitting president denouncing mail-in voting systems, people may have looked at mail slowdowns and drop boxes being hauled away and locked up and not really thought much of it. But, when Trump tweets things such as “MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION” it’s kind of hard to fault people for thinking the president might up to something.
Because he is.
Behind the scenes, Trump’s presidential campaign is suing Nevada over its mail-in voting system and trying to invalidate absentee ballot requests in three Iowa counties. Earlier this summer, Trump’s lawyers took Pennsylvania to court for its mail-in system but failed to produce any evidence of vote-by-mail fraud by the Friday deadline the judge imposed. (Oops.)
Trump’s brand of conspiracy theories tend to work better on Facebook and Fox than in court. A plaintiff typically needs evidence to pursue a claim. But all you need to go viral are some foot soldiers shameless enough to put their faces on the story and go on TV. Like White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
There, Meadows claimed mail-in systems send “millions” of ballots to “empty mailboxes,” which “disenfranchises” voters.
“But there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” Tapper said.
Meadows replied, “There’s no evidence that there’s not, either. That’s the definition of fraud, Jake.”
Actually, that’s the definition of a smear. Go ahead. Prove to me you don’t beat your spouse, abuse puppies, commit other various crimes against humanity. THERE’S NO EVIDENCE YOU DON’T. SEE!?!
In discussion with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo earlier this month about why he would not agree to Democratic requests for emergency Post Office funding Trump said, “They need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots…If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
So: The president says that mail-in voting will destroy his party. He says that he “can never let” mail-in voting happen. And he then says that by denying the Post Office funding, then they won’t have the capability to process mail-in voting.
Boy, it’s a real mystery why people think Trump might shut down the Post Office to help him win reelection.
There are only two possible explanations for what is going on with Trump’s Postal Service.
(1) All of the disappearing mailboxes and sorting machines are part of routine logistical planning, and
(1)(b) The president’s words about mail-in voting and the Post Office are meaningless and no reasonable person should take them any more seriously than they do his claims to have done more for African-Americans than Abraham Lincoln or that he would build a border wall that would be paid for by Mexico. He’s a child who says whatever comes into his head and no reasonable person should take any of his words as representative of his beliefs, his plans, or his administration’s policies and actions.
(2) Trump repeatedly said he believes mail-in voting will cost him the election. Then the Postal Service suddenly started taking actions that were out of the ordinary. Because the president wanted it to.
As conspiracies go, this isn’t like QAnon. You don’t have to decode anonymous internet posts and do a whole Pepe Silvia thing. It’s pretty straight forward: Trump say mail-in voting bad. Mail has problems. Trump stop mail.
So either Trump is really up to something and the Postal Service is a legitimate point of concern. Or it’s a baseless conspiracy because Trump is so mentally unstable that no one should take his words seriously.