Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump puffed himself up in full Trumpian pomposity to proclaim to us rubes: "We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else."
Well, "nothing else" ... unless you count a record-shattering number of more than 20,000 documented lies that this huckster has uttered in only three-and-a-half years, making dishonesty the cornerstone of his corrupt administration. He's now spewing a furious torrent of lies, insisting that a tsunami of voter fraud is about to hit our land and deny him reelection. He practically shrieks like Chicken Little, claiming that Democrats are meeting in secret cabals across America to pervert millions of ballots and steal the White House from him (as though it's one of his personal properties).
Of course, as every investigation has concluded — including ones run by Republican partisans — the only widespread voter fraud in our country is the GOP fraud that voter fraud is rampant. But what's really at work here is that The Donald is in a cold panic about losing, so his only hope is to do two things: First, use the fraud bugaboo as an excuse to restrict voting in precincts that vote for Democrats, and, second, delegitimize a Democratic win in advance by creating the myth that his loss could only be caused by hordes of illegal voters.
Thus, we're seeing an egomaniacal incumbent who's so weak and nefarious that he and his obsequious political party are actually spending untold millions of dollars in a disgraceful effort to try to keep American voters from casting ballots. Their tactics are worthy of the sleaziest of tinpot dictators from the banana republics of old. For example, they've simply closed the neighborhood voting places in thousands of Democratic areas, forcing people to scramble to get to the polls, and they've monkeyed with our nation's postal service in a crude effort to restrict mail-in voting. Then, William Barr, Trump's pathetic toady of an attorney general, even tried to boost the trickster's chances by ludicrously suggesting it might not be illegal for his backers to vote twice!
So now, nearly four years after promising he'd tell us nothing but the truth, the fabricator in chief declared this year that he's entitled to reelection because "Unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises." Obviously, that's his fattest lie yet.
How extreme and needlessly nasty is the Republican Party's massive campaign to thwart democracy? Ask the good people of Florida.
This was one of only three states with an antiquated law permanently taking away the voting rights of felons — even after they'd completed their punishment. In 2018, though, a whopping 64% of Floridians voted for a state constitutional amendment that finally struck this malicious bit of legal ugliness from the books, thus offering public grace to the redeemed. At last, about a million people who'd served their time would have their political personhood restored.
But — look out! — here came a raving gaggle of Republican operatives rushing to court to slam the door once more on the rights of discharged felons. Led by Ron DeSantis, Florida's right-wing goose of a governor, the GOP demanded that an appeals court of hyperpartisan federal judges overrule the 2018 landmark vote by the people. Formerly incarcerated citizens are not entitled to vote, squawked these vindictive ballot suppressors, unless and until they've paid off the full amount of court costs and fees they were assessed.
Yes, once again, Republican leaders are asserting that money — even a few hundred dollars — must trump social justice, human decency and political rights. They knew, of course, that most people coming out of Florida's prisons are indigent and unable to pony up a thousand bucks or so. Even if ex-felons are regularly making payments to clear the debt, the Republican repressors say tough luck — no vote until every penny is paid.
It's a flagrant case of rigging the system to steal the votes of a low-income constituency generally inclined to support Democratic policies and candidates. It also amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax, made more intolerable by applying it to one class of citizens (largely people of color) specifically to disenfranchise them.
The court's six-judge Republican majority (five appointed by Trump) cynically defied the U.S. Constitution and the Florida electorate just weeks before November's presidential election, effectively incarcerating some 774,000 potential voters in a partisan debtor's prison. Yet, these people's battle for justice goes on. To stay connected, go to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition website.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.