So, Jill Stein, whose morally smug supporters modestly helped to sink the Clinton campaign, now wants to do recounts in precisely those states where her votes exceeded Trump’s margin over Clinton. For what? To hope she gets fewer votes and is less tarred with Ralph Nader infamy? Or is it just to put more money in her coffers, since her one percent of the national vote means her party will be ineligible for federal matching funds next time?
The Clinton campaign, whose own smugness did far more to contribute to Hillary’s defeat, has said there is “no actionable evidence” of hacking or tampering. But the campaign apparently wants to be a free rider to provide some succor to her disappointed supporters, who hope she might have lost the electoral college by fewer votes than she has. Call me skeptical, but, because our voting system is so decentralized, even if the Russians had hacked some voting machines, it wouldn’t have changed the final outcome.
Trump’s behavior in this is far worse. Claiming that he not only won the election in a landslide but would have won the popular vote too, had not millions of nefarious aliens voted illegally, goes to the heart of delegitimizing our democracy and puts on full display his most un-Presidential characteristics.
Trump did well in the electoral college, but it was no landslide. Reagan/Carter in 1980 (489 to 49) and Nixon/McGovern in 1972 (520-17) were landslides. Trump’s electoral college margin is more like Kennedy/Nixon in 1960 (303 to 219) and Carter/Ford in 1976 (297-240). Indulging in Trump’s hyperbole encourages him to believe he has an overwhelming mandate and can govern without making efforts to compromise.
Trump’s unsubstantiated claim goes to the heart of his longstanding canard that the election would be rigged and that he’d accept the results only if he won. Now he’s claiming he won despite a rigged system. Perhaps he shouldn’t assume office under such a cloud? Perhaps he should pay for a national recount to make sure every vote cast was legitimate? It wouldn’t change the outcome, but could give everyone more assurance, especially those in his paranoid base. If he really believes his own tweets, he should open his ample wallet and make sure all recounts are done by the electoral college vote in December. But this isn’t going to happen.
One of the unresolved questions of the campaign was whether Trump’s greater liability was his cavernous lack of information on critical issues (and disinterest in learning) or his dogmatic assertion of false information. We now have a more serious wrinkle. His outsized reliance on patently false sources. The millions of illegal voters story came from Infowars, one of the wild-eyed conspiracy sites. Heaven help us if Trump, who tells us he knows more than the generals, turns to these social media cesspools for making critical foreign policy decisions.
Heaven help us also if, in four years, voters in our “rigged” system vote him out of office, but Trump, then holding the armed levers of power, chooses not to accept the results.
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