Donald Trump’s refusal in the third debate and his bludgeoning of our democratic process the past couple of weeks to accept the results of our fair and free elections in the United States is unprecedented in our history, and truly is the final disqualifying event in the Trump campaign.
Of course if there is a genuine concern about the vote count in a given state that may affect the full outcome as with Florida, and Al Gore in 2000, the candidate can and should be able to avail himself of legal processes consistent with election law in our nation. Notably, when it became clear that Gore had received a full half a million more votes than Bush, and clear that under our Electoral College Gore yet had fallen short of what he needed then Vice President Gore gave perhaps the best and most generous concession speech we’ve seen in a long time.
But to in advance say you may not accept our election results, and prefer to keep voters in suspense while you go about the country saying our elections are rigged, you pull down one of the great core bulwarks of a functioning democracy. History will judge Trump very harshly. This historian can already say that, despite the emotional connection Trump has established with his core support, some 35% of American voters. His autocratic and authoritarian, even fascistic mindset, make him too dangerous a threat to American freedom and our Constitution and the democracy it establishes.
Any sentient American should be able to see a man whose temperament is so imbalanced, his thin-skinned, self-evident lack of perseverance in the face of criticism, and his Tweeting temper show us that with the power of the presidency it may be someday a tweet with our nuclear arsenal.
“You cannot go around the country playing with fire in the halls of our democracy,
and then expect any rational and intelligent person to see you as anything less than hazardous to our liberty.”
This morning, Trump at his first campaign stop did say he would accept the results of a clear election result. The walk-back is too little and much too late. You cannot go around the country playing with fire in the halls of our democracy, and then expect any rational and intelligent person to see you as anything less than hazardous to our liberty. Now, Trump is still playing with matches, and the American people must reject him or face some further insecure temper tantrum placing them in danger once more.
And what is a clear result? Does Clinton have to win by double digits percentage wise to win? Can he accept a win in a state that is a hundred thousand votes or even just a few thousand? His statement on the day after his debate debacle, yet places him in a position relative to democracy in America that is not to be trusted, nor should the voter accept it.
Of course, if there are clear signs of real irregularities beyond a few votes anywhere, all Americans should stand with the candidate concerned to get a recount and examine ballots that might be fraudulent.
A Loyola University professor just completed and reported on an intensive and wide ranging study of voter fraud and once again confirmed that it is exceedingly rare. My own State of Wisconsin spent several million dollars with our attorney general digging deep into votes cast on elections from 2005 until 2014 and found only 21 cases of voter fraud. But wait, twenty of these cases were legitimate mistakes by voters such as felons who thought they could cast a ballot, without any attempt or intent to defraud our election system. Even a few county clerks or poll workers had made mistakes. So that last and final case that appeared to be real and quite serious had assistant attorney generals licking their chops so loud you could hear them for miles. A couple in my own Waukesha County had voted twice; first by absentee ballot, and again at the polls on Election Day.
To the consternation of the proponents of this study to prove Voter ID was necessary, that clear case went down as soon as it was learned that the couple was elderly and very active. They had voted absentee fully intending to go on a cruise over the period covered by the election. Then, their plans had changed and they with much embarrassment had to admit they simply forgot they had voted on the first occasion.
So we have over a billion votes cast, and no prosecutable cases of voter fraud. It stunned many people in our state. And it left Republicans who sought the Voter ID law that has been struck down by a Federal District judge, who left a part of it intact for the November 8th election this year being repudiated by that result.
Our elections are controlled by the States, according to our Federal Constitution, and accepted by the American people for over two centuries. There have been real voter fraud cases we know about. Many of them were in the 19th Century when you yet had to take a ballot in the color of your party in the presence of everyone. Voter intimidation was real, something the Red Shirts of Donald Trump today, ought to consider very carefully.
This was prior to what is known as the Australian ballot or secret ballot. I for one do not want some fool looking over my shoulder when I vote. It is a deeply personal and private act of naked democracy I am proud to engage in as an American citizen each election day. I take my responsibility for votes cast for candidates for office with the utmost probity. You know what, so do practically all Americans. All ballot access political parties here can have a couple of registered voter observers who can quickly spot problems is they see them.
And our decentralized state run elections with many county clerks (71 of them in Wisconsin) are undertaken with great care for their accuracy and legality. Fairness even plays a part. In my case, I signed the nomination papers for our county clerk, a Republican with whom I disagree on many issues we face. But I know her, and she is really a superb manager of our County election system. She is honest, and responsible. I voted for her this past Tuesday via absentee ballot.
An observer of last night’s debate quipped that the temper tantrum prone juvenile Donald Trump needed a pacifier. I think it a very good idea.