Tarnishing One’s Own Victory

Honest elections do not necessarily give power to the best candidate, but they accord that invaluable legitimacy that persuades the minority (or, in the particular case of the U.S. in 2016, the majority) peacefully to accept the outcome and offers the winner the chance to win without a measure of violence that would burn down the house in which we all reside.

When Trump was campaigning, he claimed that the U.S. electoral system was dishonest, thereby laying the groundwork for post-election challenges even before finding out the result. Trump thus created an atmosphere of suspicion and, indeed, so effectively accomplished his task that he apparently convinced not only the winner of the popular vote but also a third party candidate that Mr. Minority’s surprising “electoral vote” majority might not be believable after all. Given the Diebold electronic voting scandal when Bush was granted victory and the blatant efforts of the GOP in 2016 to discourage voters viewed as likely to vote Democrat, neutral observers who cared about the quality of U.S. democracy thought Candidate Trump might have had a point.

But now the candidate being offered victory despite coming in second suddenly no longer seems to care about the honesty of the election, instead preferring to get it all over with as fast as possible. Instead of demanding honest recounts, he denounces the established legal process as “ridiculous” and a “scam.” Trump not only criticized his opponents for the recount but took the opportunity once again to call the electoral process dishonest, thus underscoring the need for recounts…indeed implying that the whole nationwide election should be reviewed, recounted, or dismissed and reheld.

Does he know something we do not know about the odd shift in Wisconsin political attitudes? Is power simply more important than the integrity of the electoral system that so profoundly concerned Mr. Trump only a couple months ago?

It is indisputable that it is Hillary, who by the latest count got two million more vote, is the candidate with the “mandate”–weak as it may be, but Trump is nonetheless the one headed for power: does he not want his march into the White House to be unsullied by suspicion? A wise winner might offer to pay for whatever recounts may be requested, the better to pave the way for his coming triumph.

Why rush to condemn the legal process of ensuring that his victory be seen as legitimate?

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