President Trump is trying to cling to power by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Black voters. His desperate legal maneuvering is straight out of the old racist Jim Crow playbook — and the vast majority of elected Republicans, to their eternal shame, are going along with him — whether actively or passively.

In Wisconsin, Trump's campaign has paid for recounts in just two counties, one of which is Milwaukee County. In Michigan, Trump personally called two Republican officials who now want to decertify the vote in Wayne County, which includes Detroit. In Pennsylvania, Trump's legal team has challenged vote-counting procedures and made unsupported allegations of fraud in two cities: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Georgia, the Trump team filed a lawsuit targeting absentee ballots in Savannah, and another suit took aim at the state's ballot-curing process.

The pattern is obvious and appalling: Trump and the Republicans are trying to invalidate votes in cities with large African American populations — cities that happen to have voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. In effect, Trump is arguing that Black people have no right to vote him out of office.

I've seen this movie before. When I was growing up in South Carolina, the segregationist power structure throughout the former Confederacy perpetuated itself by denying African Americans access to the ballot box. Whites used poll taxes and literacy tests to keep Black people from registering to vote; drew jurisdictional boundaries to dilute Black political power; often resorted to physical intimidation at polling places; and, when everything else failed, simply invented reasons not to count African American votes.

All these years later, I've never had the illusion that white supremacy was completely vanquished — not even when the nation twice elected a Black man as president. But I honestly didn't think I would see such an undisguised, unapologetic reassertion of the white-is-right doctrine of my youth as we're witnessing now.

None of what Trump is doing has any likelihood of changing the election's outcome. Biden won Wisconsin by 20,000 votes, far too big a margin to be reversed by a two-county recount. Michigan officials are not going to throw out the votes of the state's biggest city wholesale. In Pennsylvania, judges have been batting away the Trump team's frivolous lawsuits virtually as soon as they are filed. And in Georgia, that rarest of creatures these days, a Republican with integrity — Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — has boldly defended the right of all citizens to have their votes counted.

Trump will surely remain a big loser. And anyone naive enough to have bought his campaign claim that "nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump . . . with the exception of Abraham Lincoln — possible exception" can see what a cynical lie that was.

"Trump is a racist" is hardly breaking news. But it is shocking and inexcusable that so many GOP officials, including virtually all Republican members of Congress, are aiding and abetting the president's attempt to negate Black voting rights — either with their weasel words or with their silence.

With precious few exceptions, Republican senators and House members have refused to publicly acknowledge Biden's status as president-elect. On the Senate floor this week, several GOP senators were seen privately congratulating their colleague Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) on becoming our next vice president. But they are afraid to publicly offer their felicitations or acknowledge her historic achievement, for fear of incurring Trump's wrath.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and almost all members of their Republican caucuses have stuck with the position that Trump has the right to pursue all legal avenues in an attempt to reverse the election result. By doing so, they not only endorse lawsuits and recount demands that they know are founded on baseless claims and have no realistic chance of success. They are also giving their approval to Trump's targeted attempt to have Black votes discarded.

In his rational moments, if he has them, Trump's realistic aim may not be to overturn an election he clearly lost but rather to delegitimize Biden's victory and thus weaken him when he becomes president. But by participating in this dangerous farce, Republicans are delegitimizing themselves — and betraying the all-so-noble ideals they claim to embrace.

I've long believed it would be better for African Americans if both major parties competed seriously for our votes. But why would any Black voter even consider supporting a Republican Party that cooperates in a racist attempt to have Black votes discounted? Why, for that matter, would any White voter support such a party?

Trump is weakening our democracy and setting back racial progress by decades. Republicans are acting as his willing accomplices. The nation should never, ever forget — or forgive.

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