The government wants data about those who demonstrated at the president’s inauguration Day. After the election, Trump talked about “3 million” illegal votes, and the Department of Justice asked individual states to provide very detailed information on voters. This caused discontent among conservatives as well, who have always opposed interference from the federal government.
Here we go again. The Trump administration has once again made the news for an operation that threatens citizens’ privacy, their freedom of speech and ultimately, their right to engage in protest. This time the news is an initiative by the Department of Justice, led by Jeff Sessions, to obtain data about the activists who protested the president’s election on Inauguration Day.
It is no coincidence that this piece of news has emerged while the controversy concerning the violent clashes in Charlottesville and Trump’s controversial “neutrality” on the protest is still raging. He wants to present the neo-Nazi far-right and the Ku Klux Klan as being on par with the extreme left. The comparison is questionable, as the violent fringes of the far-left that do exist are smaller and less militarized than the fascist or white supremacist militias.
Long before becoming president, Trump claimed that those who oppose him were troublemakers for hire, groups of violent far-left squads who were manipulated and coordinated by some hidden leader. He made that statement every time protests broke out at his campaign rallies, and even encouraged his supporters to retaliate with violence. He then added the idea of a conspiracy to rig the elections with massive voter fraud.
Shortly after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, his pride hurt over having received 3 million votes fewer than Hillary, Trump started talking about irregularities. Coincidentally, he spoke of “3 million” illegal votes. It was an absurd theory that has been refuted by the Republican Party itself, which controls in many states and was therefore responsible for handling the vote on Nov. 8 in accordance with the law. However, Trump’s insistence forced the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into voter fraud. Even in that case, the matter soon turned into a threat against privacy, as the federal government started asking individual states to provide very detailed information about its voters. Several Democratic-led states have rejected this abuse, this attack on the secrecy of the vote.
Once again, due to his hubris, Trump ends up trampling right-wing values too. Traditionally, conservatives oppose interference from the federal government, whether it concerns state power or the lives of citizens.