In the month since Donald Trump won the presidency, American politics has remained a chaotic minefield of furious fact-checking as the president-elect has dodged concerns over his conflicts of interest and tweeted baseless claims about mass voter fraud.
Or as Samantha Bee put it during the December 5 episode of Full Frontal: “One of the major questions being debated in our country today is whether it’s okay for the president to lie his fucking face off 24 hours a day. Somehow, the jury is still out on that one.”
The show’s opening segment took aim squarely at Trump’s recent tweet about voter fraud, which specifically claimed that he won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Not only was Trump’s statement an outright lie, but it’s one with roots in decades of Republican policymaking.
But voter fraud simply doesn’t exist on that large of a scale. As my colleague German Lopez wrote, the credible allegations of voter fraud that came out of the election — in which more than 130 million votes were cast — amounted to “a fraction of a fraction of a percent of all votes.”
However, the fact that voter fraud is very much the exception rather than the rule has not stopped Republican lawmakers from pushing stricter and more targeted voter ID laws to stamp out this supposed scourge.
As Bee points out in her segment, the idea of narrowing the voter pool to more “desirable” voters who would more reliably cast Republican ballots goes back to at least the Reagan era. She even plays a clip circa 1980 in which Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich openly admits that he doesn’t want “everybody to vote,” and that “quite candidly, our leverage in elections goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
And this, says Bee, is the point that got lost in the immediate outrage following Trump’s incendiary tweet. “He’s a marketer,” she said. “His big lies are like his buildings. He doesn’t build them; he just slaps his brand on them and tricks the press into promoting them for free.”
“If Trump manages to smash America’s institutions,” she concluded, “it will only be because GOP termites have been gnawing away at the foundation for years with baseless claims of election shenanigans.”
In other words: Trump isn’t saying anything that his Republican predecessors didn’t say first.
You can watch the full Full Frontal With Samantha Bee segment above.