Donald Trump and Kris Kobach have set out on their quest to save democracy and our electoral process — not from Russian cyber attacks, but from low-tech hoards of people armed only with a pencil and a desire to vote.
They are a modern day Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Only when the insane Don Quixote was flailing at windmills, the loyal squire Sancho Panza tried to protect his master and friend.
Kobach cares not about Trump’s mental instability nor his quest to prove that if it wasn’t for illegal voters he would have won the popular vote against Hillary Clinton. Kobach’s quest is to prove his own sanity when it comes to claiming that voter fraud is rampant while making it more difficult for people to cast ballots.
Kobach calls it voter protection. Anyone who knows anything about the Kansas secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate calls it voter suppression.
As with Don Quixote, reality is what you want it to be and no one does a better job of creating his own reality than Trump.
For anyone not familiar with Don Quixote, in 17th century Spain he was referred to as a hidalgo, or a sort of nobleman in name only. He loses his sanity and sets out on a journey to revive chivalry, fight for the oppressed and bring justice to the world.
The same could be said for Trump ... up to the part about losing his sanity.
While on his journey to right the wrongs in the world, Don Quixote attacks, or tilts, at windmills which he sees as giants to be defeated.
“Tilting” is to attack an imaginary enemy which, for Trump and Kobach, is voter fraud. The parallels would lead one to think Trump might have actually read the novel, “The Ingenious Nobleman Mister Quixote of La Mancha,” if not for the fact that Trump doesn’t read.
Trump’s latest executive order to establish a commission to investigate voter fraud and voter suppression is another effort to drag us into his alternate reality and, at the same time, soothe his ego which still can’t accept losing the popular vote. In his mind, voter fraud is the only explanation and who better to assist him in jousting with his imaginary dragon than Kobach?
Kobach has somehow earned the reputation as America’s voter fraud expert and anyone who believes that is one alien spaceship sighting away from a padded cell and a lifetime of heavy medication.
Trump has said repeatedly that 3 million to 5 million illegal voters cast ballots in the last presidential election, though not a single secretary of state — other than Kobach — supports the claim that fraud could have, or did occur, on a scale of that proportion.
The only thing more absurd is Trump’s claim that every one of those illegal votes was cast for Hillary Clinton.
A Brennan Center report that looked into the possibility of voter fraud has found a total of 30 cases nationwide in the last presidential election.
That’s a three with one zero — not seven.
And what of Kobach’s efforts to bring fraudulent voters to justice in Kansas? In two years, he has just nine convictions. Ironically, most of them are older, registered Republicans.
Those thousands of undocumented aliens who are undermining democracy and the thousands of voters who find enjoyment in casting ballots in two different states must be incredibly smart and elusive because Kobach has only been successful in bringing down nine at the back of the herd.
Fortunately, the latest executive order by Trump carries as much weight as the paper on which it was written. Twenty states have refused to comply with Kobach’s request for personal voter information and another 25 are handing over only a limited amount of information.
Trump’s “election integrity” group is dead in the water before it can even set sail.
Not that voters shouldn’t be concerned. The bigger issue is, and always has been, voter suppression.
“I think the endgame here is to provide the pretext for federal legislation to make it harder for people to register and vote,” Richard Hasen, a professor and elections expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said.
States controlled by Republican legislatures haven’t been discreet in seeking that endgame.
Since 2010, 20 states have passed new, restrictive voting laws in addition to purging voting rolls, limiting early voting opportunities and reducing the number of polling sites in areas which have traditionally voted for Democrats.
Lawmakers and election officials in North Carolina and Wisconsin have been caught explicitly admitting as much.
The purges in North Carolina, targeting black voters, have been described as “like something that was put together in 1901.”
Trump is tilting at windmills to protect his fragile ego. Kobach is trying to protect an increasingly fragile Republican voting base by whatever means possible.
Don Quixote could be admired because, even while insane, he remained virtuous. Trump and Kobach are not concerned with protecting the virtue of American democracy.
That might not make them insane, but it definitely makes them dangerous.
Rod Haxton is editor of The Scott County Record in Scott City. Email him at email@example.com