Colson: Donald Trump casts our democracy into doubt
October 18, 2016
So now it has arrived, the point at which the Republican presidential nominee is spending most of his time telling the world that, if he loses, it can only be because the election was rigged.
In fact, Donald Trump is not simply saying the rigging of the election will be shown if he loses. He’s saying it’s rigged now; it’s been rigged from the first.
What he’ll say about all this tripe if he wins the election (an outcome that is terrifying to contemplate), I don’t know.
It probably would come out as something like his non-apology for being the leader in the birther movement for five years, when he finally was forced to admit that President Barack Obama really is an American, really was born in the U.S. and by inference truly was a legitimate president.
Not that Trump ever, ever would admit to Obama’s legitimacy as either a candidate or a president.
It’s just not in him to admit clearly, completely that he was wrong. Can’t do it.
He might even channel comedian Dana Carvey’s famous parody of former President George H.W. Bush (Bush the First, as I like to call him), when Carvey made a mockery of Bush’s phrase, “Wouldn’t be prudent.”
Bush the First actually did say it, by the way, at least once that I could find. It was in an interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace in 2007, justifying Bush the Elder’s decision in 1990 to not inform the public (for a time) about his deal with Saudi Arabia over launching the first Gulf War from Saudi territory.
Anyways, I can see Trump using the same phrase when one of his advisers suggests it might be a good idea to make a fuller statement about how he was wrong for all those years about Obama’s birthplace.
And the same would be true about his charges that the current election cycle is rigged.
This rigged-election rhetoric, as just about every commentator with a brain has been saying for weeks, is dangerous stuff.
It’s true, I think, that most people see Trump as being so full of hot air and lies that this bilious nonsense about a rigged election is just more of the same.
But his followers seem to be getting behind the idea, and there is talk of violent reprisals if Trump does not win.
I was watching Bill Maher the other night when that crazed alt-right harridan Ann Colter said in response to a question something like, “(Republicans) don’t steal elections, you people do that,” meaning Democrats.
She offered no rationale for the statement, but my guess is that she’s referring to the 1960 contest between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, in which Kennedy’s win has been widely condemned as having occurred only because Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley put together a massive voter-fraud effort, going so far as to put innumerable dead people on the voting rolls as casting a ballot for Kennedy.
I’m not sure why Maher did not bring up more recent examples of Republicans stealing elections in 2000 and 2004, for George “The Shrub” W. Bush, with all the shenanigans in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004). But he didn’t, and Colter undoubtedly has been confirmed as a heroine to Trump lovers everywhere.
This is giving people nightmares.
My wife and her sister both have said recently that they’ve awakened from bad dreams with Trump’s face looming over their dreamscape, and their deepest impression upon waking has been one of deep fear.
All over the country, people have been hearing Trump go on and on about the only way he could possibly lose the election is if it’s stolen from him.
As if the Democrats could ever actually organize themselves enough these days to steal a car, much less an election.
As Bill Moyers pointed out a couple of months ago, the real rigging already has been accomplished and set in electoral stone — the radically partisan gerrymandering of numerous U.S. House of Representative districts in states all over the U.S. following the Republican victories in 2010.
The truth is, there is almost no way Democrats can win enough seats in this go-round to regain control of the House due to gerrymandering, which is the practice of redrawing electoral districts to ensure that the balance of Republicans versus Democrats in any given district favors the party in power in that state.
The Republican Party is the acknowledged master at this stuff, largely because many Democrats find the very idea vaguely distasteful and smacking of electoral dishonesty — though Democrats have tried to do it, too, albeit less successfully.
So, to put it bluntly, the only part of this election that really is rigged is the one involving House districts.
But there is symbolic dynamite contained in Trump’s braying about how the presidential election is rigged.
There already are plenty of U.S. voters harboring deep suspicions about the integrity of our electoral processes (I must admit to being one of them). Having a presidential nominee blundering around declaring that he has to win in order to validate the process is adding fuel to that fire, even though he never gives any specifics to back up his charges.
That’s because he has no specifics, of course. Just as he has no real plan for moving this country forward as it recovers from the Great Recession, no real plan for dealing with the growing threats from global warming (because he believes it is a hoax), no plan for reworking our badly flawed immigration policies (because he blames immigrants for all our ills and wants to either deport them or keep them from coming in), no real plans for anything beyond sitting in the Oval Office and spraining his arm by patting himself on the back so forcefully.
By ingenuously trumpeting that the election is rigged, he is stripping many of us of confidence in this most basic tenet of our representative democracy — one person, one vote, leading to peaceful transfers of power every four years.
The results of this tactic — and of his whole candidacy — are going to trouble us for years to come.
And all because he is a spoiled rich kid who thought it would be fun, and perhaps profitable for him in the long run, to upset the applecart of our democracy.