Just 24 hours before he arrived in Michigan, the president launched a dangerous disinformation campaign, accusing the secretary of state of going “rogue” by illegally sending absentee ballots to every Michigan voter. He threatened to block funding to Michigan—a state beleaguered by multiple converging disasters, including one that was unfolding just as the tweet was sent—“if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
To be clear, none of this is accurate. Voters were sent applications to vote absentee, a practice consistent with a newly adopted Michigan law (a law that exists in other states, red and blue alike). The Michigan GOP has itself sent out applications. There is nothing sordid or illegitimate going on; both parties here understand the rules of the game and are attempting to master them before November.
But Trump is playing his own game. Ever in need of a foil—be it Barack Obama’s birth certificate, John McCain, Megyn Kelly, Low Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, the Deep State, Never Trumpers, Sleepy Joe, Obamagate, or combinations thereof—the president has set his sights on the institution of the ballot box. The benefit is twofold: Trump can simultaneously incite the distress of his base to juice enthusiasm come November while establishing a built-in justification should he lose.
The effects are already manifest. In conversation after conversation with voters here Thursday, Trump supporters repeatedly—and completely unsolicited—say Democrats are attempting to steal the election from the president. [Continue reading…]