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Steinberg: For once, I’m in agreement with Donald Trump

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, July 20, 2016, that Texas' strict voter ID law discriminates against minorities and the poor. | AP file photo

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One of the many benefits of not being, ahem, crazy, is that you can find value in those who oppose you.

Had the sane path been available to Donald Trump, he might have shrugged off Khizr Khan’s scathing, Constitution-waving takedown at the Democratic National Convention, saved his silver bullets for a target more worthy than grieving Gold Star parents, even those who criticize a certain reality TV star. He could have defied expectations by saying something gracious.

Instead, Trump leaped with a snarl into the spiked pit the Democrats had dug for him, then wriggled there for days, howling.

The rational gambit isn’t available to Trump. One of the top hundred reasons he should never be president is he can’t restraint himself, can’t prioritize and is deaf to both grace and nuance.

Four reasons, I guess.

I, on the other hand, like to give credit where due, just because I can. All part of being a fair and decent guy. As much as I disliked George W. Bush, he was certainly strong on Taiwan, solid on Israel, and preparing to wade into our immigration mess when 9/11 occurred. During his administration, when he did something laudable, I grit my teeth and lauded it.

OPINION

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So even though Trump is a clear and present danger to our American way of life, to be opposed by every patriot, I must recognize that the Republican candidate did say something both true and important this week. On Monday, Trump, campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, observed: “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.”

While I could quibble with that second part — why start now? — I have to say, I share Trump’s fear. Anyone who has been paying attention has seen the systemic attempt of Republican legislatures across the country to enact sham voter fraud laws in a bald attempt to disenfranchise minority voters. Just as abortion clinics are restricted under the fig leaf of concern for women’s health, so the idea of fraud, a true non-problem, is the pretext used to make it harder for African-Americans and Hispanics to register to vote, to vote in advance or absentee, and to provide identification when voting.

Hundreds of new voter laws were proposed across the country after Indiana’s harsh law stood up in the courts in 2008 and 22 states enacted voter laws, many of which are unconstitutional.

Don’t take my word on it. This past year, appeals courts across the land have been throwing out such laws. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out North Carolina’s law for being enacted with discriminatory intent. Last month, Texas’s law was found unconstitutional. Ditto for laws in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Ohio and Kansas.

Which does not mean we’re out of the woods. Come Election Day, just like Donald Trump, I fear that the system will be rigged. Areas with large concentrations of Hispanic voters won’t have enough polling places, leading to enormous lines of American citizens waiting in the hot sun to deliver their mandate. It’s happened before.

That is not at all what Trump meant, of course. He was alluding to some mysterious conspiracy of his bottomless imagination. Or perhaps by “rigged” he meant that Hillary Clinton is gaming the system by not being insane or painting the country as a hellhole. Either way, this is a perfect illustration of Trump’s maddening tendency to accuse his opponent of doing what he is at that moment doing himself. The leader of the party engaged in the most massive, coordinated attempt to rig voting complains the system is rigged against him. It’s the classic bully’s gambit of grabbing the victim’s arm and whacking him in the face with it while sneering “Why are you hitting yourself?” The man who lies continually keeps repeating “Lyin’ Hillary” and his followers lap it up.

That is this election in a sentence: Donald Trump is a man who will say anything, supported by people who will believe anything.

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