Even after more than three decades of monitoring groups that espouse Christian nationalism – the belief that America is and must remain a Christian nation with laws and policies that reinforce this myth – I’m still often amazed at how much misinformation movement leaders can cram into messages to the faithful.
Consider this passage from a recent column by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council: “If the mess of 2020 accomplished anything, it was lighting a fire under conservative states. After weeks of election counting, recounting, and questions, more legislatures than ever are determined to stop Democrats from taking advantage of COVID again. Cheat-by-mail is going to end, they warn. And a record number of states are lining up to prove it.”
First off, the 2020 election was not a “mess.” It was, according to relevant government officials, our most secure election ever. The election took place during a raging pandemic, and the fact that we pulled it off so flawlessly is a testament to a lot of hard work by Americans of various political beliefs all over the country who served as election judges, vote tabulators, etc.
Secondly, the only reason we had “weeks of election counting, recounting, and questions” is because President Donald Trump refused to accept that he had lost. In Georgia, Trump insisted on three separate recounts, only to learn anew each time that he did, in fact, lose the state. And those “questions” Perkins mentions? They exist only in the fever dreams of QAnon boosters, tin-foil conspiracy theorists and other reality-denying Trump partisans. By now, anyone with even a lick of sense knows Trump lost.
Thirdly, no one took advantage of COVID, and there was no “Cheat-by-mail.” With hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from the pandemic – in large part due to Trump’s ineptitude – millions of people did the smart thing and voted by mail, avoiding crowds and lines.
Despite what Trump and his toadies claim, voting by mail worked. There was no cheating. Ironically, we know this in part thanks to Trump’s attorneys. They had ample opportunity in court to make the case that cheating had occurred and couldn’t do it. Trump and his wackadoodle army filed an astounding 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts and lost 61 of them. (Their sole victory, over a minor technical point in Pennsylvania, didn’t change the outcome in that state; Joe Biden won it by more than 81,000 votes.) Trump’s legal team loved to float bizarre conspiracy theories in the media, but when forced to put up or shut up in courts of law, where actual evidence is required, they couldn’t provide even one shred.
This brings us to what Perkins is really after: voter suppression. What a “record number of states are lining up to prove” is that Christian nationalists don’t support democracy. Stung by the fact that Trump was rejected by the American people, they’re pushing a raft of voter suppression bills in the states.
One of the lessons of 2020 is that if you make it easier for people to vote, record numbers of them will do so, and many of them will be people of color. This alarms white Christian nationalists. Their answer to Trump’s defeat is not to offer better candidates, drop offensive policies or cease their racist dog whistles – it’s to make it harder for people of color to vote.
The Brennan Center for Justice puts it bluntly: “The new surge in voter suppression bills is a backlash to the historic voter turnout of the 2020 general election. It flows directly from the bid to cut out the votes of majority Black cities during the bid to overturn the results. Politicians who push and support voter suppression aim to rob Black and brown Americans of their say in our democracy.”
And white Christian nationalists are all for it. We’ve noted previously on this blog that these extremist groups don’t support democracy. They proved that after the election when they backed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud. They proved it again Jan. 6 when they failed to condemn a marauding band of insurrectionists that assaulted the U.S. Capitol with the goal of keeping Trump in power. They’re proving it now with their attack on the right of Americans to vote.
Trump lost, but that doesn’t mean he and his allies are no longer a threat. His friends in Washington, D.C., and state capitals have embraced a new, un-American scheme: punishing the millions of Black and brown people who voted against Trump by restricting their access to the ballot box.
Much to their eternal shame, Perkins and his fellow white Christian nationalists are lining up to help.