“Rigged,” What’s New?

2016-electionsNew Orleans   Headlines in both the local and national papers focused on Donald Trump’s unwillingness to commit that he would honor the verdict of the voters in a democratic election. Clinton responded in the debate that his position was “horrifying.” My question continues to be, “What’s new?” Am I the only one who wonders why this is such a flashpoint now, and hasn’t been for the last eight years or longer?

Part of this is both personal and political for me, as I have noted before. But at least I’m not alone. David Weigel writing in The Washington Post this week had a memory that was longer than yesterday’s news cycle, and began his piece this way:

According to the Republican nominee for president, his opponents were “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.” In an ad, his campaign warned of “nationwide voter fraud” that could swing the election. His running mate worried, in a fundraising letter, that “leftist groups” were trying to “steal the election.”

 

The candidate was not Donald Trump. It was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who in the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election embraced the theory that ACORN, a community organizing group previously embraced by Democrats and Republicans, was helping to rig the election for Barack Obama by filing fake voter registration forms.

Poor Weigel. He’ll probably be fired soon for pointing out that the emperors continue to walk naked in Congressional hallways and DC corridors. It also goes without saying, and time has proven this out, so I’ll bore everyone by saying, that no such thing happened, nor was there ever any evidence then or now to back up such nonsense about voting.

Even for McCain in 2008 this was an old saw, rather than something he was inventing. Such claims on voter fraud based on voter registration work have been part of the standard operating procedure on election tactics for Republicans for a number of cycles, certainly since the concept of “battleground” states became prominent and the George W. Bush election turned into a Supreme Court disputed umpire call after Al Gore won the popular vote. In Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for a number of election cycles before 2008, ACORN had been the subject of similar attacks and fabrications with fake FEC complaints and state election charges all of which would be withdrawn by early the following year after the elections were over. Our assumption had been that McCain had wrongly assumed that the election might be close with Obama and was tactically hedging in order to prepare claims in some states and hope for a repeat of the Bush 2000 scenario. As it turned out, he was stomped by Obama, so none of that emerged, though thanks to McCain the target for conservatives would stay on ACORN’s back.

And, let’s be honest about all of this. Of the hardcore 40% base that is sticking with Trump and listening to all of this balderdash, I would put good money on the fact that a huge percentage of that base has still refused to accept the legitimacy of President Obama’s two election victories and the work of his eight years. The continuing drumbeat of the Republican faithful up until recently that ACORN stole both elections and was preparing to steal this one is more than sufficient evidence for such a bet.

Once the votes are all counted, the winner will be named, and whether Trump and his Trumpeteers accept it or not isn’t relevant come Inauguration Day, except that such schoolhouse door resistance to the choice of voters in our fragile democracy only assures even more polarization and extremist from Congress on down to the grassroots.

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Hillary Moving Right, Already, Where Do Progressives Go?

imagesNew Orleans   The headlines in today’s papers range from the bizarre to the insulting.

Donald Trump is having trouble getting Republicans that he has spit on to kiss and make up. The Bush family, one and all, have declined to endorse him. He’s attacking former opponents like Senator Lindsey Graham with vigor. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to join an alternate reality, even though he’s chairing the Republican Convention, and strategists are suggesting that candidates for the House and Senate avoid the Convention like the plague. That’s enough for the bizarre.

For the insulting, one has to turn to the Clinton campaign which seems to be double-clutching to shift gears from its recent appeals to progressives and the liberal base in the contests with Senator Bernie Sanders to re-position her candidacy, and presumably the Democratic Party and its platform, to something of a center-right party in order to be a more comfortable home for disaffected Republicans fleeing from Trump. Progressives, the young, minorities, immigrants, Muslims, women, Clinton is calculating that none of us have any other place to go, so it’s time to her to swerve hard right.

What are we facing here? One far-right fringe party, led by Trump, calling itself Republican, and one center-right party, calling itself Democrat?

Don’t get me wrong. Of course Hillary needs to go bottom-fishing given how much mud Trump has thrown into the pool. Sure, extend an olive branch, a glad hand, a big, fat grin, but why move right and why the rush? Why not conclude that they can either be no-shows or people with no place to go? Why walk back on the mildly progressive positions so recently weakly embraced?

Seems everybody is being pushed in and out of parties, but no one wants to do the work to actually build their own parties. Let Trump have whatever he wants to call it. Chances are if he wins, or comes close, he’ll re-brand whatever elephantine thing he has left with his name anyway. Let Ryan, the Bushes, and whoever, fight over whatever they think the Republicans pretend to stand for. And, if Hillary wants to make the Democrats back into a 21st century version of the center-right party that Bill Clinton tried to assemble in the 1990s and beat the drums for Wall Street and war and whatever this right shift settles into, how many slaps up against the head is it going to take the rest of us to realize we need a home of our own, too?

One’s a headache and the other may be a heartache, but eventually we need to go somewhere that we’re wanted and respected. And, that’s a far better place to be.

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