A demonstration in Arizona Trump and voting rights march underscore the struggle for democracy

One side fears a return to the past and hears echoes of Jim Crow in the present.

The other has been convinced by an ongoing disinformation campaign that the election in the United States is false.

The latter was out in full force Saturday at former President Donald Trump’s first demonstration in 2022 in Florence, Arizona. Among a dozen Trump supporters there who spoke to CNN were major conspiracy theories – all of which have been refuted – about how the 2020 election was allegedly manipulated (as through voting machines linked to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013 ) seems to have given way to more refined discussion points that are closely aligned with restrictive voting measures being adopted by Republicans across the country.
“There’s a famous statement – ‘sometimes the teller is more important than the candidate,'” Trump said in a video posted on Friday, stressing how Republicans motivated by his election lies have tried to undermine the legitimacy of it. US elections. Arizona – which President Joe Biden carried in 2020 and became the first Democrat to carry the state since 1996 – has been at the center of these efforts.

In Florence on Saturday, Trump showed exactly what kind of “tellers” he approves.

At her meeting, Kari Lake, Trump’s choice of governor, said there were a few people she “god would like to send directly down to the jail here in Florence. Anyone involved in the corrupt, shady, sloppy election in 2020. Unlock them. ”
Mark Finchem, a representative of the state of Arizona whom Trump has approved as the state’s top election official as secretary of state, has previously reiterated QAnon-type conspiracy theories about election officials and continues to maintain that the voice in Arizona was stolen from Trump, who has been widely disproved . Even a biased review of the results in Maricopa County, commissioned by state Senate Republicans, confirmed Biden’s victory in the county.
Finchem has previously been linked to the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group. Some of its members were accused last week of “rebellious conspiracy” related to the US Capitol attack.

“I look forward to the day when we set aside an irrevocably flawed election. It is the election of 2020. With all the evidence we have, the Arizona election should be rejected on the grounds of the legislature,” Finchem said, repeating the former president’s lies. from the podium at its convention Saturday.

Former President Donald Trump throws a MAGA hat at the audience before speaking at a demonstration on Saturday, January 15, 2022 in Florence, Arizona.
A year-long sustained attack on the integrity of U.S. elections has paved the way for making candidates like these the natural election of 2022 for Trump, who is trying to exert his influence over the GOP – including local election officials – at the same time. he sees another bid for the White House in 2024. A recent one Washington Post found that “at least 163 Republicans who have embraced Trump’s false allegations are running for nationwide positions that would give them authority over the election administration.”

But even at the Trump rally, there was rare praise for a Democrat.

“She is our representative, she represents the state, she is not along the party line, she is what is good for the country,” Robbie Kimsey, Arizona voter and Trump supporter, said of Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Sinema, along with West Virginia Senator Joe Machin, is blocking the passage of a few suffrage laws that Democrats hope can counter some of the restrictive voting measures passed by Republicans at the state level. Sinema has said she supports the bills but does not advocate changing Senate rules to get them passed.

The opposition from these two moderate Democrats frustrates suffrage activists, including those gathered in Arizona over the weekend.

“She says she wants the right to vote, but how do you want the right to vote without creating a way for that to happen? It’s inconsistent; it’s unacceptable,” said Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, Martin Luther King III , to CNN in Phoenix on Saturday.

The King family had traveled to Arizona to take part in a suffrage march, urging Sinema to act – warning that history would not judge her kindly.

“I think we’re really in a crucial moment,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democratic hope for governor, told CNN.

Hobbs said democracy had won in 2020 because election officials on both sides of the aisle had done their job – but now, with Trump-approved election deniers running for jobs that would give them authority over elections, the future is less certain.

“The 2022 election, I think, is going to determine the future of our democracy,” Hobbs said.

It was a sentiment repeated by Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s 13-year-old granddaughter, who was with her family over the weekend in Phoenix, telling CNN: “I think it’s so important to vote, and it is so important to have the right to vote, because right now our country is at stake. ”

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