Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ranting On...Why Donald Trump is an Illegitimate President

This woman should be president.
I take politics very, very seriously.  It is something of a personal religion for me.  I polled my playground for Bill Clinton, and was out campaigning as early as the age of four on behalf of Democrats.  So when my team wins a close race, particularly an underdog race, it is a huge point of pride for me.  I am thrilled to be able to count a victory up for my team.  Conversely, I still mumble about losses through the years, particularly ones that I felt were missed opportunities.  Shelley Berkley in 2012, Kay Hagan in 2014, Jason Kander in 2016-if only a certain thing had gone differently we would have been able to take a critical seat, perhaps getting a new star on the rise (or preventing a Republican one from getting there), and we would have had a better shot at holding the Senate.

But the reality is that I don't usually pull out the "it's not fair" card.  Berkley, Hagan, and Kander are all three seats that, despite being close races, were ones that the Democrats lost fair-and-square.  You could argue that the media was fairer for one candidate or the other, but by-and-large that's really your only argument and the reality is that there are only a couple of races where I can point to the media genuinely being more favorable to one candidate than the other.

This is not always the case, though, where I consider a race to be fair, and for a long time I thought nothing would ever supplant Al Gore's 2000 loss in Florida.  Looking back on it, it still makes me upset, particularly considering the walking disaster that George W. Bush became, particularly when it came to the national debt, international conflict, and climate change.  To think of what good he could have done our planet with four or eight years in office.

The reason I've always been angry about Gore was not that it was a close election, but it was that a number of voters clearly intended to vote for him but their votes weren't counted  This includes the national popular vote, which he won handily, meaning that George W. Bush was not the choice of the country, but instead the choice of an anomaly in the Constitution.  But it's more focused on the butterfly ballots in Palm Beach County, which gave by many estimates 2000 ballots to Pat Buchanan that likely were intended for Gore, thus ensuring he would have won the state by a razor-thin margin.  Forget Ralph Nader for a second (though, he, too, should always be part of the blame here)-those ballots correctly are cast for Gore, and we have a different president.

For nearly 17 years I have been angry about that fact-that we were robbed of the White House, but it's hard for me not to realize that the 2016 election will be a part of that equation now, forever and always-a twin pillar of American democracy failing its citizenry.  Like Gore, Hillary Clinton was the choice of the American people if you look at the popular vote, the only true reflection of the country.  Unlike Gore, Clinton can't point to a clear, specific problem like butterfly ballots that show that even the electoral college was meant to be hers.  Though she won the popular vote by 2 million more votes than Gore did, Clinton's election wasn't remotely as close as the former vice president's-you can try with all your might, but no conspiracy theory in the world can get you the number of legitimate ballots that you need to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  Gore's race was particularly frustrating because it was clear he could have, and probably should have, won, but George W. Bush lucked out in Palm Beach County.  For a long time I thought that this would satisfy me with Clinton, that she'd be more in the camp of John Kerry in my personal memory banks, someone that America couldn't see the value of until it was too late.

But this week's congressional hearings have me reconsidering that, and perhaps, while you could never prove it, it's clear that Clinton got a raw deal that may have been enough to swing the election.  The FBI story 11 days before the election about Huma Abedin's emails, stating publicly that Clinton's investigation was reopened, is staggering in its hypocrisy when compared to the news this week from FBI Director James Comey that his team has been investigating the Trump campaign since July.  This confirmation, truly, makes the entire 2016 election an uneven playing field.  That Clinton had to publicly endure a chastisement from FBI Director Comey, and that they ensured that headlines for the penultimate week of the campaign would be focused on Clinton's problems, and not Trump's, surely cost her votes.  It's impossible to say how many, but the fact that Trump got an enormous benefit from the government and Clinton didn't-it's unacceptable, and it shows that the Republicans may well have lost the election had Comey behaved properly.  After all, headed into those final two weeks Clinton's polling numbers remained solid, if not spectacular.  This story killed any chance she had of regaining momentum, or halting Trump's.  FBI Director Comey acted improperly not only by breaking precedent in announcing the reopening of the case (likely to prevent chastisement later since he, like most people, assumed Clinton would win but so would Paul Ryan), but he did so knowing full-well that Donald Trump was also under investigation and he said nothing.

I don't like to call Donald Trump illegitimate, because at the end of the day he won the election in terms of what the Constitution mandates-he reached 270 electoral votes.  But I think the tag needs to be reached now, and it needs to also be thrown upon Mike Pence since he gained from this corruption.  The problem, of course, is that there's no way to fix this-there's no evidence of actual elections tampering, and it doesn't matter why you voted they way you did under the law, only who you voted for.  Even if Trump is indicted and impeached, Mike Pence almost assuredly won't be, and as a result the Republicans will have gained the White House due to the FBI abusing its power.  Hillary Clinton, despite the strong likelihood that she would have pulled off a narrow victory in November, will never get to be president like she deserved, in the same way that Al Gore never got to be president.  These are people who devoted their lives to this pursuit, surrounded by teams who gave up years, decades, of work to get them to that position, and that's gone because of the unfair, potentially illegal, actions of a few.  It's hard to know what to do with that anger and betrayal from American democracy.  Democrats who lived through 1876 and 1888 might understand this betrayal, knowing the country wanted their guy twice & were still denied victory, but no one who lived through those years is alive to commiserate with right now.  The reality is that the Democrats have now been cheated twice, through stupidity and potential abuse of power, in the course of 16 years, of the White House.  That is a travesty that I will never get over, and as a result, I can't acknowledge Donald Trump as a legitimate president.  He didn't earn his win last year-he may have had the most votes on-paper, but he got there through nefarious double standards via James Comey.  That's not someone who deserves to be president.

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