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Opinion: Trump’s party is doing what it’s long done — suppressing the vote

Former President Trump gestures at the crowd during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando on Feb. 28.
(Getty Images)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, March 6, 2021. One year ago today, the first emergency coronavirus spending bill was signed into law. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

I know some of you are done with Donald Trump and want nothing more than for anyone to avoid mention of the 45th president. I sympathize with you on that one, but averting our gaze from the last commander in chief is only possible when an ex-president has ceded control of his political party and doesn’t speak at conferences that feature a golden statue cast in his image. Trump isn’t moving on, no matter if we pretend he isn’t a major force in American politics.

And it isn’t just his toxic political influence that persists: As several readers note today in letters to the editor, the ex-president is leaving an actual legacy that threatens to undermine democracy by putting voting rights at risk. Republican-controlled governments in several states are seizing on Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen in order to restrict ballot access further, something they’ve been accomplishing incrementally since being given the green light by the Supreme Court in 2013. In fact, the court recently heard a challenge brought by Arizona Republicans to the remaining portion of the Voting Rights Act; in response, The Times Editorial Board pleaded with the justices not to throw out what’s left of the law they started eviscerating in 2013.

This years-long perspective is important, because this isn’t just about Trump’s cultish grip on the Republican Party. As Times editorial writer Michael McGough pointed out, former Vice President Mike Pence — one of the villains targeted by the Jan. 6 Capitol mob — continued doing Trump’s dirty work by publishing an op-ed this week praising state legislatures focused on “election integrity.” But I think it’s also worth pointing out that Pence is, above all, an establishment Republican, and as much as he is perpetuating his former boss’ Big Lie, he is also carrying on with the mainstream GOP’s work of voter suppression, which predated Trump.

And as long as that party puts Trump on a pedestal, we’ll have to keep talking about him.

No, Dr. Seuss isn’t being “canceled.” Still, we received plenty of letters written as if he were, which suggests that the right-wing freakout over “cancel culture” is making an impression. As for what’s actually being done about the late author’s books, the editorial board says Seuss’ estate is actually being prudent by deciding to no longer publish six of his works with racist imagery and text; where things are getting out of hand, writes Karin Klein, is with online retailers not allowing existing copies of those six books to be sold on their sites.

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Is there any doubt about the power of the #MeToo movement? In 2006, writes columnist Virginia Heffernan, activist Tarana Burke started using the phrase “me too” to convey the pervasive and theretofore unspeakable plague of sexual violence and give comfort to survivors. Now, the New York governor is facing calls to resign over sexual harassment allegations, the Boy Scouts of America has released a plan to compensate 85,000 abuse victims, and investigations are underway at multiple institutions. “With the simple words ‘Me Too,’ Tarana Burke made these crimes eminently speakable — and, to survivors everywhere, that has made a world of difference,” Heffernan writes. L.A. Times

And what now with the New York governor? Should Andrew Cuomo resign? Columnist Robin Abcarian says his alleged conduct is inexcusable and definitely creepy, but it might not rise to the level of resignation-worthy, a point echoed by some readers in letters to the editor. Whatever he decides to do, Cuomo is walking proof that too many powerful men still haven’t gotten the message of the #MeToo movement, says the editorial board.

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Berkeley is undergoing a stunning transformation on housing. The San Francisco Bay Area City, long known as a bastion of progressive politics, was an early pioneer of racially motivated zoning, setting aside large tracts of land in the early 20th century exclusively for single-family homes. This anti-density mind-set persisted for generations (sometimes comically so in the face of cold reality), well into my time there as a student in the early 2000s. Now, writes Farhad Manjoo, the city of Berkeley is finally acknowledging its racist history on housing and moving to begin formally ridding itself of single-family zoning, following in the footsteps of Sacramento. New York Times

Traumatized healthcare workers need help, and our system may not survive long after the pandemic if we don’t develop a national strategy on this, writes Dr. Victor J. Dzau: “There is no cavalry riding to the rescue after COVID-19. The pandemic has been the largest, and the longest, strain on the well-being of U.S. health workers in modern history. The solution must match the scale of the challenge.” L.A. Times

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As always, you can share your feedback by emailing me at paul.thornton@latimes.com.


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