The utter illegitimacy—and contradiction—of defying elections you lose
Except for willfully blind, the whole, simple point of democratic elections is securing more votes than your opponent. Is this more complicated than germ theory? No legitimate candidate in advance gets to poison the game by cherrypicking what the majority says. Since when do only one side’s partisan voters count – with all others dumped as tainted trash?
Trump’s bluster is especially bizarre since Republicans win every prize for disenfranchising minority voters. If they can get away with gerrymandering, weird ID infractions, negative ads or fewer polling places, they try it, again and again. Thus does rightwing election “rigging” sabotage all models of maximum voter participation. The cosmos cringes. Prove voter fraud or go home and sulk.
Never in our history has an incumbent president repeatedly asserted his personal, idiosyncratic right to defy majority rule. Reluctant compliments to the woeful Electoral College. Never has a candidate, with no proof whatsoever, framed an election months off as fraudulent, illegal or illegitimate. Unless of course he wins, echoing his own Ohio October ’16 rally, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election if I win.”
Alongside pushing the toxic ingestion of disinfectants, nothing better publicizes a reckless blusterer who’s unfit for any elected office. Were this loser to refuse to leave the White House in January, all the better for the Trump finale to end with indescribable, frog-marched disgrace!
Having your cake and eat it, too
One can’t have it both ways, either logically or morally: whence cometh a person’s right to run while impugning that very election process as rigged and debased? Trump has failed to realize that by negating the legitimacy of national elections, he obliterates his own questionable legitimacy. If elections are approached as corrupt, then by what sovereign or legal right does Trump hold office?
By refusing last week to agree to “accept” the November election, this mock president not only violates all Constitutional dictates, but inadvertently re-calibrates the paramount campaign issue. No one can — without impairing reason itself — defy results if you lose but “accept” them if you win. What an epic joke. That’s handing off democratic rule either to a tantrum-throwing toddler or an arrogant dictator. Or both.
Thus does this one blunder turn November into a transcendent opportunity, way beyond whether voters prefer a Democratic or Republican president, even what policies the majority favors. November now pits Trump in mortal battle against the entire American legacy of relatively fair elections (not that they’ve ever been perfect). In one fell swoop, Trump establishes THE simplest line in the sand: who accepts electoral legitimacy and who mocks election outcomes? All else is folly. And any candidate who threatens to defy results (with zero proof of irregularity) should be declared unfit by both sides of the aisle. In advance. What other choice is there?
Remember the Constitution
If the candidate for president cannot support the very essence of democratic government, that miscreant defies not only the Constitution but the designated ability of states to run elections. If a candidate by his own unforced admission stands against the Constitution, then he or she negates that very government, per our hallowed Declaration, that derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed.” Not the misguided “consent” of the (losing) candidate. Q.E.D. Not “accepting” an election result – or worse still, threatening to not accept it – simply explodes what made (and makes) America distinctive. If voters aren’t sovereign over government, someone else runs the show. And totalitarian states clearly dishonor representative government by turning “elections” into PR charades, mere theatrical shows that confirm might makes right.
This situation differs greatly from a disgruntled loser who, with strong evidence, challenges how votes are counted. Though voter fraud is less frequent here than getting struck by lightning, a legitimate candidate (who honors the majority) has the right to question results. But what trustworthy competitor says, “sure, I’ll play all nine innings but the score counts only if I win”?
Litigating against rare election discrepancies is in fact opposite to denying the legitimacy in advance. That contestant accepts majority rule and the judicial system on which it rests (with legitimate checks and balances). Democracies run not on coercion but good faith that asserts over time no autocrat can fool most of the people most of the time. Trump is simply fabricating more nonsense to manipulate his minority base, which by definition doesn’t succeed without disowning majority rule (having lost the popular vote by almost three million, with worse to come this Fall).
Finally, if Trump believes all elections are rigged, corrupted by integrated, grand conspiracies to ruin him, then why run at all? If a candidate in advance truly doubts election legitimacy, there’s only one logical choice – foment a revolution or civil war and then one can change the entire system of voting. We once fought a war over secession, in part about states rights but also slavery and control over the changing national, industrial economy. Election veracity is just as elemental as these issues, and thus I conclude anyone who refuses to accept the outcomes self-disqualifies.
Trump’s refusal thus hands the Democrats the perfectly non-partisan, paramount campaign issue. Let’s simply transform the whole race into a battle between those who favor representative government and majority rule vs. a wannabe tyrant and lackeys whose individual whims get to trump the Constitution.
Finally, any candidate who defies the results sabotages why the U.S. democracy has endured: the peaceful, orderly transfer of power after elections. Countries in which elections routinely trigger civil unrest are notoriously unstable and violent. The whole point of an orderly transfer deflects violent insurgencies by the unsuccessful side. If elections are merely invitations to civil disorder, why not skip the voting charade and start shooting – in advance, too? That is the logical and political outcome when any candidate preemptively denies popular election sovereignty. If that doesn’t invite tar and feathering, what does?
Trump the ignorant disruptive seems oblivious to what negating elections from willful blindness means. He’s just fabricating more celebrity TV provocation, separating himself from alleged corrupting forces out to get him (deep state, Democrats, opponents) – apparently capable of rigging all (state) elections. Trump’s represents an unspeakable, facile act of bad faith (and another of many unserious bluffs). The word and name “Trump” – as in trumping democracy – has never been more rightly exposed.