Displaying the out-of-touch stupidity of the billionaire narcissist that he is while also further pushing the racist anti-democratic policies of the Republican Party he now commands, President Donald Trump used a rally in Florida on Tuesday night to spew fresh nonsense about the need for national Voter ID cards while bizarrely claiming that people need identification in the United States just to buy stuff at stores.
"Unsubstantiated claims and falsehoods stand to spread like wildfire, distorting public opinion and prompting local officials to put in place barriers to the ballot box." —Kristen Clarke, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
"The time has come for voter ID, like everything else. Voter ID!" Trump declared at the campaign style rally Tampa where he was allegedly stumping for GOP Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.
"If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID," Trump continued, either lying or oblivious. "You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture."
In a statement to Common Dreams, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, described Trump's comment as "beyond the pale," though part of a much larger trend by his administration of showing hostility towards voting rights while also dog-whistling to his right-wing supporters.
"President Trump well knows the power and influence that he holds when standing behind that podium and speaking to the public," Clarke said. "Unsubstantiated claims and falsehoods stand to spread like wildfire, distorting public opinion and prompting local officials to put in place barriers to the ballot box."
Moreover, she added, Trump's behavior on Tuesday was a clear attempt "to achieve what he could not do through his now defunct Election Integrity Commission. The president has been bent on promoting voter suppression and erecting barriers that make it harder for our nation's most vulnerable communities to vote."
On social media, the comments were taken by many as an exhibition of how Trump can be both extremely clueless and racist at the same time:
Trump moments ago:
"The time has come for voter ID... if you go out and want to buy groceries, you need ID."
This is why billionaire idiots shouldn't be President. We need someone to represent us who has at least has bought their own groceries in the last 3 decades.
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) August 1, 2018
Trump: "If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID."
This man has never bought a carton of milk in his life, has he?
— Kaili Joy Gray (@KailiJoy) July 31, 2018
I often buy things just by waving my watch near a screen. Sometimes I don’t even have may wallet with me. Trump is a racist imbecile. Voter id laws are racist. https://t.co/Smv5VPKBBY
— Sean Laughlin (@Slaughlin) August 1, 2018
Voting and civil rights advocates have long argued that identification requirements are a way to disenfranchise voters, not empower them or protect election integrity.
"Voter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and stand in direct opposition to our country's trend of including more Americans in the democratic process," explains this ACLU fact sheet on the issue. "Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting. These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card."
— Let America Vote (@letamericavote) August 1, 2018
On the subject of what it's like to buy items at stores in the U.S., Trump's comments on Tuesday night brought back memories of one episode in particular by another out-of-touch Republican president all too willing to inflict harm on the nation's most vulnerable while safely tucked away from any of the real pressures actual working people and their families face:
Trump in Tampa tonight: "The time has come for voter ID...
if you go out and want to buy groceries, you need ID." When's the last time Trump bought groceries? Remember when GHW Bush went to a grocery store during '92 campaign and marveled at price scanners?
— Jeffrey St. Clair (@JSCCounterPunch) August 1, 2018
And—for those who have either blocked it out, were unborn, otherwise focused on other things, or simply want to see it one last time—here's George H.W. Bush learning what a grocery store checkout line is:
This post has been updated from its original to include comments from Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.