Presidential historians will spend years analyzing results of the 2020 election. But this much we know for sure: More people voted in a presidential election than ever before. Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE got more votes than any winning presidential candidate in history. Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE racked up more votes than any losing candidate. And Biden beat Trump by over 7 million votes.
So, what’s the plan of the Republican Party in order to win back control of the House, Senate, and White House in 2022 and 2024? Improve the message, expand their base, and convince more Republicans to turn out to vote?
Hell, no. Just the opposite. Unwilling to accept the reality that he got trounced by Joe Biden, Donald Trump has unleashed the Republican Party in two dangerous directions. First, a months-long effort to overturn the results of Nov. 3, culminating in an armed insurrection against the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6. Second, an on-going, massive crusade to suppress the vote in upcoming elections.
Egged on by Trump, the Republican Party has embarked on a nationwide campaign to make it harder, not easier, to vote — based on the cock-eyed belief that the fewer people who vote, the better Republicans perform. It’s an absurd, self-defeating theory first expressed by an ignorant Donald Trump, who warned Republicans in March 2020 not to expand vote-by-mail operations, even in the face of the pandemic, because: “If you ever agree to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Which is pure nonsense. Vote-by-mail has been around since the Civil War, when it was first made available to Union soldiers. It’s grown in practice and popularity ever since. In the last two federal elections, one out of every four Americans voted by mail. In five states — Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Utah, and Washington — mail balloting is the primary method of voting. In 28 other states, voters can vote by mail if they so choose, without having to provide any excuse.
Not only that. Since most of those who vote by mail are older, white voters — who tend to vote Republican — the Republican Party has always benefited most from vote-by-mail campaigns. Take it from me. When I was Democratic chair of California, we correctly assumed that the advance, absentee-ballot count would always skew heavily Republican — so we had to mount an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign to make up for it. In effect, by cutting back on vote-by-mail, Republicans are committing political suicide.
But that hasn’t stopped Trump’s loyal allies. So far in 2021, according to the renown Brennan Center for Justice, Trump supporters have introduced 165 measures in 33 states to suppress the vote: everything from curtailing or banning vote-by-mail, to outlawing or shortening early voting, to banning drop boxes, to repealing automatic voter registration, to reducing the number of polling places on election day — measures particularly directed at majority Black cities and areas with a high percentage of voters of color.
It’s a frightening, fundamentally un-American campaign which, again, is based on two lies manufactured and spread by Donald Trump. One, the claim of massive voter fraud, for which there is zero evidence. Two, the idea that greater voter turn-out makes it harder, if not impossible, for Republicans to win. Baloney. When Republicans or Democrats lose an election, it’s not because more people voted, it’s because their candidate or message didn’t resonate with the people.
If the Republican Party is ever going to move on from Trump, here’s a good place to start: by dropping all voter suppression efforts and embracing democracy. The more people who vote, the better for America.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”