In an election cycle filled with legitimately crazy sh**, yesterday was a banner day. Not only did Paul Ryan decline to endorse Trump and Trump refused to support Ryan but Donald Trump, at a rally in West Virginia, actually asked his supporters to not show up to vote in Tuesday’s primary. I swear I am not making this up.
During a joyful, victorious rally speech in West Virginia on Thursday night, Trump told his crowd of 13,000 that they no longer had to vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary — even though there are still a number of contested local races on the ballot. This came after Trump repeatedly told the crowd that he debated on whether to show up, as he no longer needed their votes in the primary. He said “just didn’t have the heart” to stand them up.
“What I want you to do is save your vote — you know, you don’t have to vote anymore. Save your vote for the general election, okay? Forget this one. The primary is gone,” Trump said. “Save your vote for the general election in November, and we’re going to show you something, and then you’re going to show me something, okay?”
Just in case voters didn’t get the message the first time, Trump touched on it again in the final minutes of his remarks: “In November, you’re going to go out, and you’re going to vote and that’s going to be the greatest vote you ever cast, okay? The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday, but now I can say: Stay home but get twice as many people in November, right? Because we have to win, we have to win the general election. We cannot take Hillary Clinton anymore. We’ve had enough of Clinton.”
This is just profoundly stupid on so many levels that one doesn’t even know where to start.
First. It is too little too late. If Trump really wanted to do the nation a service he would have been telling his supporters this for the past 6 months.
Second. The sheer narcissism of his position is stunning. There are hundreds of other people trying to get the GOP nomination to run in the November general election. Now, granted, the candidates selected without the input of Trump voters will probably be more intelligent and emotionally stable than those picked by his followers but what he is doing is saying that the only election that matters is the presidency. Not your mayor, or school board, or county commission (or equivalent) or your representative. Trump is all that matters.
Third. Voting is a civic duty. Anytime anyone tells you to stay home they don’t have your best interests in mind. They are telling you not to worry your little head about anything because Daddy will take care of you. That, alone, should scare anyone hearing it.
Fourth. What the hell are you going to do with this vote you saved? Cast it in November? (I have no doubt a non-trivial number of Trump supporters will demand to cast two votes in November based on Trump’s advice.)
This, however, is really not as strange as it seems. Back, many years ago, there was a television series called “All In The Family.” The family patriarch, Archie Bunker, was the prototype for Trump voters. In fact, he had the same view of voting as the one espoused by Trump. This is from 1972:
Michael Stivic: You mean to tell me that Archie bunker, super patriot, flag waver par excellence is not voting in tomorrow’s election?
Archie Bunker: Yeah, because I cherish my vote the way you’re supposed to. That’s why. I don’t waste it on these little meatball elections around here. I save my vote for the biggies.