Donald Trump has seen better days – and so has our democracy.
After his opponent Hillary Clinton surged in the polls following the publication of his lewd remarks regarding women 11 years ago, Mr. Trump has adopted a strategy of total war. This salt-the-earth tactic includes denying the validity of the polls, the testimony of experts and even calls into question the legitimacy of the election.
While these allegations are almost comical in their absurdity, the reality is these statements are anything but funny. A plurality of voters believe his claim the election will be rigged, calling into question the stability of our democracy, which has come this far without a presidential candidate refusing to concede defeat. On Nov. 9, this fact may very well change.
These outrageous claims necessitate an analysis of our electoral system, the mysteries of which are often unknown to the average voter. When we review the plethora of available data, combined with expert testimony on the state of election security, we can easily come to the conclusion that, no, Mr. Trump, the election isn’t rigged – you’re just losing.
There is a reason behind this madness, of course, and it’s not that Mr. Trump genuinely believes the election will be rigged. Rather, this kind of heated rhetoric plays directly into his narrative of running against a corrupt system in which the island of Trump is beset on all sides by the crooked establishment, biased media and rigged polls. It is a way to shift the burden of blame for his impending massive defeat at the hands of a woman onto someone else – perhaps Speaker Paul Ryan for calling him out, or more broadly, onto a “rigged” system in general.
When future conservatives and post-election analyses harangue him as the albatross around the GOP’s neck that cost them an otherwise easily winnable election, he will furiously deny it, receding instead to his patently false allegations.
The importance of this cannot be understated. Should voters fail to adequately educate themselves, buying into Trump’s latest con, what are for now amusing Onion headlines may later become the stomach-curdling reality.
So what’s the truth behind his allegations? What are the numbers behind his supposed “mass voter fraud?” For Mr. Trump, a truthful examination of his blistering lies will result in an uncomfortable truth.
When he falsely claims there is large scale voter fraud in this country, he seems blithely unaware of the United States’ high score from Freedom House, an independent election and democracy watchdog. When he and his surrogates falsely claim the election in 2012 was rigged in Philadelphia, he seems unconcerned that Republican election inspectors in said city have avidly come out from the paint to disavow him.
Past claims over the rampancy of voter fraud have been handedly rebuked more than once, with the real figures resembling one out of every 15 million prospective voters, though this won’t stop Mr. Trump. Nor will the staggering reality that only 31 cases of voter fraud were detected out of some nearly 1 billion ballots cast over 14 years halt his efforts to tear apart the legitimacy of our electoral process. Ironically, the same tightening of voting laws Mr. Trump so desperately wants are completely ineffective when put into place.
This is not to say the legitimacy of our democracy shouldn’t be monitored, nor that voter fraud never happens in the U.S. The reality, however, is that most instances can be attributed to such mistakes as a clerical error or aging voting machines. The true danger to our democracy isn’t that this election will be rigged but rather for the first time, a presidential nominee could refuse to accept the legitimate results and attempt to alter our traditionally peaceful transition of power.
Mr. Trump is undeterred by the countless experts and pundits who have come out against his claims, choosing instead to foster the malice of his supporters with irredeemable lies. In his quest to deny his opponent any post-election legitimacy, in his calls for his supporters to illegally electioneer at polling places and in his repeated attempts to make himself something of a truth-telling messiah while in reality he is anything but, he shows all the traits of a man who should never become Commander-in-Chief.
When ardent conservative commentators come out against his baseless claims, you might think the Republican nominee would change his tune. Sadly, this seems unlikely to happen. Mr. Trump has crossed the Rubicon and fully intends to see his quest of destroying the American political process fulfilled. Whether or not he succeeds in the matter is up to the voters.