“‘Who knows who’s signing it? Who knows it gets to your house? Who knows if they don’t pirate?’ he said. ‘Obviously there’s going to be fraud. We’re not babies.’” No, we’re not, Mr. President, but you sure are.
The above quote is Donald Trump reacting to a reporter’s question concerning the prospect of mail-in votes for November’s election in Michigan. In case you can’t tell, he’s damn afraid. Trump actually threatened to withhold federal funds from Michigan if the state engaged in a mail-in voting plan. That’s right, the President of the United States is actually using duress to stymie domestic democracy. But why take a bludgeon to Michigan?
Simple—just look to 2016. Michigan was one of Trump’s key swing states that helped him win the election. In fact, Trump’s win was almost unbelievably slight, winning by just over ten thousand votes out of a total of over 4.5m. With that kind of razor-thin margin, Trump knows he needs to do everything in his power to make sure as few people have access to ballots as possible.
That’s especially the case now that at least one statewide poll out of Michigan shows Michiganders actually support Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic. While this is by no means a perfect litmus test, it does show that Trump’s inaction and hostility towards competence isn’t going down so well in a state where COVID-19 has hit hard, a flooding disaster has destroyed communities, and many people still do not have access to clean water (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/20/detroit-water-shutoffs-covid-coronavirus).
Back to Trump’s response to mail-in voting. Of course, his answer to a state reeling from multiple serious crises isn’t “Let’s get these people healthy and back on their feet financially,” it’s “If you let your people vote then say goodbye to clean water, roads, and ventilators.” Trump is vindictive at the best of times, but he does seem to get even more vindictive when he’s in a defensive position.
Wake up call, Mr. President: Michiganders aren’t going to see you threaten to withhold funding and find that patriotic, they’re going to see you threaten to withhold funding and find Joe Biden to be a savior.