Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Rigging

As a distant ironic echo, having Trump speak at Gettysburg seems a kind of blaspheme towards President Lincoln's sacred Address. Especially because where Lincoln spoke of a "new birth of freedom" for the nation united to the proposition that ALL men (and let's throw in women too) are created equal, Trump went Full Divider. Per the Washington Post:

But instead of laying out his vision for uniting the country, as President Abraham Lincoln once did here, Trump declared that the system is rigged against him, that election results cannot be trusted, that Hillary Clinton should have been barred from running for president, that the media is “corrupt” and that he will sue all of the women who have accused him of sexual assault.

It's not "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain" type of motivational, I tell you what.

This is Trump during the final days of his campaign: Struggling in the polls, hammered in public for his sexual assaults and failed businesses, feeling alienated from a Republican leadership that never fully accepted him, and getting beat out in news coverage by the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians (OMG the two most jinxed teams in baseball playing for the World Series?! End Times, people, it's the Seventh Seal breaking...).

And Trump - unable to fault himself and oh so eager to fault everybody else - is taking a flawed and dangerous argument that "the whole thing is rigged." He can't consider the real possibility that he's not that well-liked or successful in the first place.

We've had talk, rumors, accusations of "rigged" elections before... but never this public, never BEFORE the actual election, and never by any of the major candidates themselves.

One of the things that keeps our nation going - politically, financially, socially - is our citizenry's faith in the nation itself. That we and our neighbors at some basic level respect the institutions we rely on - despite all our bitching and wailing - to do right by our rules and to perform fair and just between all sides of any problem.

Which is why it hurts our nation a lot when scandals and revelations show any level of corruption or ineptitude in any of our foundational systems. Granted, there are breakdowns and we should rail against them and seek reforms to fix those failures, but more often than not the system works... until enough people don't believe in that system anymore.

Trump is intentionally destroying that belief, specifically in the political and electoral systems that establish our nation's leadership (which affects our laws, our economic priorities, our national defense, our children's futures). He'd rather replace that faith with the idea that I, Trump Can Never Lose.

To that, Trump is claiming - will keep claiming - that the polls are skewed even after he'd openly crowed at rallies how he's led every one of them. Trump is claiming that the mainstream media - which just weeks ago gave him free unstoppable and in some cases fawning coverage - has always been "against him." Trump is claiming that Hillary shouldn't even be allowed to campaign: He's taking the wingnut claims of her "criminal behavior" to the logical - and uninformed/lying - conclusions.

On Trump's argument about voter fraud, he's taking the long-held argument of the Republican Party itself about such "fraud" being widespread. But when you look at the GOP's stance on such "fraud" you'll notice it always involves groups - Blacks, Latinos, poor, young, women - that habitually vote Liberal/Democratic. The GOP's been saying for years basically that "those" voters don't vote Republican, ergo "those" voters can't be trusted.

Those Republican claims of mass voter fraud, by the by, never hold up in courts of law, as they can't prove with any evidence of widespread or organized efforts to cheat at the ballot box: A clear sign that what the Republicans - and now Trump - are clearly trying to do is suppress the votes of those American citizens that they can't control.

And yet here's Trump rallying his followers over such false claims, guaranteeing that a sizable portion of that voting base - the Far Right - will never accept any result other than a Trump win as "legitimate."

"If *I* win." Trump straight out said that.

And so here's how Trump - and pretty much every Voter Fraud conspiracy nut - is getting it wrong (dear Lord, I'm linking to the National Review again):

As a factual matter, this is, of course, bunk. The electoral process, from bottom to top, is managed by citizens and governed by a dense body of election law. Vote-counting is heavily scrutinized by party officials and independent monitors, and irregularities are subject to legal challenge. The voting equipment used is tested prior to Election Day and carefully monitored before, during, and after. None of this is to say that voter fraud does not exist, or that errors don’t occasionally affect vote totals. But to “rig” an election at the national scale would require logistical know-how seen only in Hollywood capers. To think that the same Clinton campaign that had trouble putting away Bernie Sanders has now arranged to steal an election on a continental scale defies logic - to put it mildly.

For all the fear-mongering about machines, fake IDs, the dead rising to vote in select counties... that's all worthless rending of shirts and pulling of hair. It just doesn't happen on that scale.

I speak from personal experience. I lived in Broward County during the 2000 fiasco, and in 2002 our county was upgrading from the punchcards to the touchscreens. The Elections office asked for county employee volunteers to help out, so I did. I was assigned as a (paid) precinct supervisor to a corner of Coral Springs and trained on the new equipment.

The county had it so that the staff at these precincts had some balance between party affiliations: I was still Republican at the time so they had a Democrat among the (unpaid) volunteers. The precinct itself as I recall was mostly Republican anyway. I'm pretty sure I brought donuts for the staff.

The election itself - the Governor race, Congressional midterms - wasn't a large turnout one so we weren't too busy. Most people needed help walking through the new tech but we had few complaints. We ended up with a good turnout (it was over 50 percent of residents) and we had only one touchscreen not work for us (we still got people to vote on the others). We tallied the results, printed the receipts, posted one at the precinct door by law so the residents could confirm in general that the numbers weren't faked, and drove the equipment and sealed bags of the provisional ballots to the regional elections office near Deerfield Beach, waited in line for two hours to get that stuff secured with the official counters, and that was that.

There are few ways to cheat the system on a grand scale. We had signature proofing. We were a state that I think always required photo ID - at least when I started voting - so there was that. Hacking the electronic machines would have to happen on a large scale - and in the Elections office - which runs the risk of too many people knowing and blabbing. The one real problem - machines breaking down - is more a fault of state governments that refuses to adequately fund their own elections process (or intentionally refuses to allow more voting days/hours as a voter suppression tactic).

At worst, I could have had a fake voter show up to stuff a ballot at my precinct but he'd only do it one time: If he came back in we'd have known and got the security guard to detain him. So it'd have to take an army to do that kind of ballot stuffing, but that would well have tripped up by any of the safeguards - photo ID, signatures, address confirmation - we had in place. And again, something on that scale requires such coordination that too many people would know and too many would blab. The type of voter "fraud" you get is one where some poor soul isn't properly registered to the correct precinct or where some jerk tries to create voter IDs for other people (there was a case of this guy in the Midwest - Illinois? Indiana? - doing that. And he still got caught).

And yet Trump - and too many among the Far Right - would deny all of those safeguards exist or work. Trump - much like a Far Right consumed by fears of racial and religious takeover - would rather wallow in the safety of his own delusion that he's a victim of outside forces. And eager to blame the Others he's so easily vilified.

As such, Trump is intentionally keeping our nation divided through a process that requires us to unite through concession or acceptance of the results.

The last time that happened was with Lincoln, when the South refused to accept his winning the Presidency in 1860.

That's where Trump is leading us back to when he railed in anger and delusion at Gettysburg. Mocking everything Lincoln represents of the United States to this day.


Infidel753 said...

"that we here highly resolve that these pussies shall not have been grabbed in vain....."

Another factor to consider is that Trump’s ranting about the election being "rigged" may actually reduce Republican turnout. To the extent that people believe the election is rigged, they are less likely to vote since they think the outcome is already set against them regardless of their votes. It’s yet another reason why Trump is unwise to indulge in such rhetoric. Of course, an experienced politician would know about such things, but the Trumpanzees insisted on an amateur.

FiveThirtyEight has a post up today about Trump depressing turnout on his own side.

dinthebeast said...

From Driftglass: "I'm not sure which Trump brain-wizard decided that the sight of a doomed racist cause making a suicidal charge into the teeth of overwhelming force was the very best metaphor on which to begin the final chapter of the campaign of their unhinged orange fire demon, but I hope they got their money up front."
Perhaps having him pull this narcissistic, infantile, incompetent stunt right out in the light of day, and then get put down like a rabid animal at the ballot box will turn out to be a good thing; sort of an exercise of the immune system of our democracy. How's that for an optimistic take on this shitshow of an election?
Also, Arpaio is losing. As of the 14th, Issa's race was a "toss up" according to the LA Times.

-Doug in Oakland