Trump tried to troll Michigan's Secretary of State on voting laws. It didn't end well for him.

In a now-deleted tweet, President Trump engaged in one of his favorite pastimes on Wednesday—accusing another elected official of committing a crime on Twitter.

This time, the object of his accusation was Michigan's "rogue" Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson. The crime? Trump accused her of "illegally and without authorization" sending absentee ballots to 7.7 million people in her state. He threatened to withhold funding to Michigan saying, "If they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!" (Ahem, is "voter fraud" a proper noun, sir?)

Benson responded to Trump's tweet in the best way possible—she fired back with facts and a reminder of her name.


"Hi!" she wrote, with a wave emoji. "I also have a name, it's Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia."

Jocelyn Benson/Twitter

The president was roundly called out for being so inaccurate. Trump partially corrected his previous tweet two-and-a-half hours later, only adding the word "applications," but but still falsely claiming the mail-in voting broke the law.

The president seems hell bent on making people believe that mail-in voting is "ripe for fraud" and that making it easier for people to vote by mail is somehow beneficial for Democrats. Let's not forget he voted by mail in Florida in March. Or that Washington and Oregon, who have had all-mail-in voting for years, both have Republican Secretaries of State overseeing their elections. Voter fraud, despite claims to the contrary, is a statistically insignificant occurrence—and a bipartisan one at that.

Benson, again, responded with the facts. And again, she reminded him that she has a name.

"Hi again," she wrote. "Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority & responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right - just like my GOP colleagues are doing in GA, IA, NE and WV. Also, again, my name is Jocelyn Benson."

Benson insisting that President Trump call her by her name may seem like a small thing, but it's not. In fact, it might be the most powerful part about her responses. The president has a habit of not referring to women he doesn't like by name, instead making up childish nicknames for them or simply omitting their name altogether. It's a power play of sorts—one that Benson expertly diffuses in her tweets to him.

As political historian Heather Cox Richardson pointed out on Facebook:

"From Moby Dick's famous beginning 'Call me Ishmael' to the fear in the Harry Potter books of calling the evil Voldemort by name, invoking someone's name makes them a power to be reckoned with. In this case, a woman doing her job, insisting on reality that interrupts Trump's narrative, repeatedly demands that he use her name.

It's a powerful moment. At a time when senators and government officials appear to have ceded their power to Trump, it is ordinary Americans like Jocelyn Benson, ordinary women like Jocelyn Benson, who are standing up to him. 'Hi!' she wrote. 'I also have a name.'

Indeed she does. That's exactly what the president is afraid of."

Strong, smart and self-respecting women who don't peddle "alternative facts" are Trump's kryptonite. He doesn't know what to do with them, other than attack them with false claims and nicknames. In the space of two tweets, Jocelyn Benson managed to not only correct the president's falsehoods, but also show that she's not going to let him play that game. It's ridiculously unfortunate that government officials have to battle lies from the president on Twitter, but since that's how he's chosen to communicate, that's where it has to happen.

Of course, Benson's office also issued official statements on the matter, because despite appearances, governance is not actually done over Twitter. The Department of State wrote:

"President Donald Trump's statement is false. The Bureau of Elections is mailing absent voter applications, not ballots. Applications are mailed nearly every election cycle by both major parties and countless advocacy and nonpartisan organizations. Just like them, we have full authority to mail applications to ensure voters know they have the right to vote safely by mail."

We need to see women standing calmly and confidently in the storm, providing factual, low-key fierce rebuttals to the blatantly false accusations that keep flying from the president's fingertips.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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