Trump's supporters are following his lead to sow discord and create mayhem ahead of November.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted a call for his supporters to become poll workers, all while he continues to ratchet up rhetoric that has fed into the violence and chaos being sown ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
"Very important that, in order to watch that ALL are following the Rules & Regulations, you become an Election Official at your local Polling Place," Trump tweeted. "Go sign up NOW!!!"
Trump's comment came after a group of his supporters went to an early voting site in Virginia on Saturday and tried to block the entrance and intimidate voters. The group eventually left, but may have violated Virginia law, which says it is illegal to "hinder or delay a qualified voter in entering or leaving a polling place."
Trump's decision to send that tweet after the Virginia incident — and his failure to speak out against his supporters' actions — could be interpreted as a tacit sign of support.
Trump has already indicated that he thinks political turmoil is good for his re-election chances. With statements that range from incoherent and confusing to outright falsehoods, Trump has sown chaos in an already chaotic election season. He has spread bogus claims about voter fraud, while also encouraging voters to commit voter fraud. And he has repeatedly used violent images as a way of throwing gasoline on the fire of political unrest and mass illness that has seized the country for the past six months.
Earlier in September, Trump urged his supporters in North Carolina to be poll watchers, saying they need to guard against "the thieving and stealing and robbing" of ballots — a baseless claim that's part of Trump's effort to cast doubt on the election results.
Trump also cheered on a group of supporters who shot paintballs at protesters in Portland, Oregon. The Guardian reported that members of a pro-Trump militia planned the event ahead of time to stoke violence in the city.
"The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer," Trump tweeted in response to a video of the clash between his supporters and the protesters. "The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!"
Trump has also defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Trump supporter who allegedly shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the shooting of Jacob Blake. At a White House press briefing, Trump refused to condemn Rittenhouse, and simply said, "That was an interesting situation." Later that same day, in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham, Trump called the Black Lives Matter movement "a lot of thugs."
Trump's ultimate goal with all of these statements, it would seem, is to create more division and confusion into an already tumultuous year, in the hopes that it will improve his own chances at winning re-election.
To date, Trump and his allies in the Republican Party have filed lawsuits seeking to make it more difficult for people to vote, and have falsely alleged voter fraud to undermine confidence in the election's results, and even suggested the need "get rid of the ballots" so there's a "continuation" of power. This would amount to rejecting the will of the American people.
It's easy enough to see what kind of message Trump and his allies are trying to send ahead of November. His statements speak for themselves.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.