I have written before about Trump’s twitter escapades, I’m writing about them now, and I will write about them again. 45’s feed is an absolute goldmine if you’re jaw feels a bit stiff, trust me, a minute or two on the Don’s Twittersphere never fails to drop jaws. For anyone not arsed to read through the incoherent and confused ramblings of a 73-year-old man, I’m here to do it for you. Suffice to say, Trump’s twitter these days consists of three themes; Obamagate, or sorry “OBAMAGATE” which he has tweeted about over 100 times in 24 hours, capitalised and all; Coronavirus, which you’d like to think he’d be tweeting about given he’s at the helm of a country suffering the largest death toll – no, no he doesn’t mention that part, just blames China, a lot; and finally, the fraudulence, or suspected fraudulence, of mail in ballots. It’s this last theme that has really got me going.
So firstly, Trump hates mail in ballots, hates them, “there will be NO WAY (ZERO!) that mail in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent” is what he gleefully treated his followers to one morning. Au contraire Mr. Trump, a study of U.S elections between 2000-2014 found 31 credible (not confirmed) cases of potential voter fraud… in one billion total votes cast. Trump’s claim is completely unfounded, in fact it is worse than unfounded, it is manipulative and malignant. Trump’s playing a long game here, a seven moth long game to be precise. In the post-Covid, or potentially ongoing Covid, environment, US elections will likely turn to a greater reliance on mail-in ballots as a way of lessening the multiple and obvious threats of transmission posed by mass in person voting (multiple shared surfaces, groups of people indoors, queues etc…) Trump has formulated a two-track twitter approach when it comes to these mail-in ballots.
Firstly, he’s laying the groundwork upon which he will reject any Democratic victory come November, the operative word he uses for this? Rigged. He consistently tweets the very word “rigged” when talking about mail-in ballots, he foresees spectacles of rigged mail-in ballots ranging from stolen postboxes to resurrecting the dead. He is establishing the platform for his base to reject a Biden victory. The man hates losing, he loves to present himself as a winner, a victor, an American great. So, what to do when a looming election paired with his catastrophic handling of a pandemic threatens that winning mentality? Simple, play the victim, blame it on foul-play and throw some shit – some has to stick.
His second track, quite simply, is to prevent mass mail in voting. Rather worryingly, this stems from the popular assumption that increasing mail-in ballots increases participation (It doesn’t, a 2017 US study found that voters assigned by mail are actually less likely to vote than their in-person counterparts) but this assumption is worrying nonetheless, why? Because it represents a sinister component of the Trump administration and that is quite simply; they don’t want more people voting. A fairly problematic attitude to be held by the leader of the free world, the supposed beacon of western democracy. The worst part is Trump doesn’t even hide this disdain for greater electoral participation, he bloody tweets it,
“anyone living in the state [California], no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how and for whom, to vote. This will be a rigged election. No way!”
Could someone explain to Don that this is how elections work? You give everyone the right to vote, then politicians and their canvassers (professionals apparently) show up and try to persuade you how to vote? It’s kind of how they’ve always worked, both sides can send those professionals out too. You can send MAGA rabble-rousers to any house in the country, try it. It’s called representative democracy, it’s a good system, granted it has its flaws but don’t we all, except you of course Donald, Donald has no flaws.
Serious note though, how concerned should we be that Trump doesn’t want people to vote? Very. I always naïvely thought that one of the great desires of modern liberal democracy was to increase and maximise electoral participation. I always saw turnout percentages in the low 60 or 50’s and got frustrated, why don’t more people vote? Why aren’t more people encouraged to vote? According to Trump’s twitter, it’s because higher participation equates to rigging, go figure 45. The one piece of satisfying news emerging from this that made Trump’s slew of tweets more palatable to read is that Twitter finally snapped. The fine constables of the Twitter police finally called Donald on his bullshit, they slapped a big fake news label on his Tweets, “! get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Can you imagine the furore. Bliss.
Trump’s twitter is what it is, an absolute disgrace. What else do you expect from a self-obsessed ideologue given an unfettered platform to voice his shoddy opinions? America pines at the behest of Trump’s twitter tyranny, outside of those fifty states, the rest of the world cringes with every 240-character debacle.