Trump's Claim of a Rigged Election: Where's the Evidence?
Trump has, at this point, repeatedly claimed that if he loses the election it will be because the system is rigged. At a glance this could simply be written off as a candidate confident in his message and chances seeking to advocate for his base to rally even more strongly behind him. A more careful assessment, however, begs the question of whether Trump truly believes this to be the case. The implication, of course, is that voter fraud or intimidation is present on a large scale. Now – while such accusations shouldn’t be made lightly or taken lightly, there is an onus on the accuser to provide some level of proof. The trouble herein is that any evidence of voter fraud in this particular election would only be available as of or after election day.
That said, The Washington Post (among other journalistic sources) has, in the past, highlighted just how much of a myth voter fraud really is1. With increasing reliance on technology in the voting booth, that could very well change as hacking could offer new methodologies to commit voter fraud. However, the notion that one person is casting multiple ballots is largely one that has been dismissed. Even Paul Ryan has recently spoken out against Trump’s accusations that the electoral system could be rigged2. When the Republican Speaker of the House shoots down the notion of a rigged system working against the Republican Presidential nominee, one would hope the issue would be put to bed. Regrettably, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Perhaps the real question, then, shouldn’t be if the system is rigged against Trump, but what Trump thinks should happen if he loses. His vile rhetoric regarding the system being rigged against him may act as a source of inspiration to some supporters, but it also seems to be a call to action to others – and frightening, concerning action at that. During a rally back in August, Trump spoke about what Second Amendment supporters could do if Hillary Clinton were elected3. The PR machine of Trump’s campaign worked quickly to categorize Trump’s statements as reflecting the need for Second Amendment supporters to stand behind the Republican nominee, but given that Trump was speaking about a way to stop Hillary if she won the election that claim ultimately rings false.
Taking it a step further more recently, Sheriff David Clarke (a Trump advocate) tweeted that it is “pitchforks and torches time,” in light of perceived government and media corruption4. This is what it has come to – law enforcement officials advocating for violent protests in the streets in the name of politics. And while distrust and anger with politicians in Washington is nothing new to either Democrats or Republicans, this reeks of a distinctive kind of hatred and hypocrisy. We’re stepping farther and farther away from sanity in politics and deeper into the looking glass, it seems – and blind accusations of a rigged system lacking real evidence do nothing but fan the flames of seething hatred in politics.
Perhaps the worst part of this trend is that it highlights what we really need in national politics now: a leader that can unite instead of divide. My assessment of Hillary Clinton is that she is a career politician – experienced, well-versed of the ins and outs of Washington, and a far from perfect candidate. However – Trump’s willingness to spew vile venom against anyone who opposes him and his brash determination that any loss is the result of a skewed system? That strikes me as unacceptable and disturbing in the extreme. We won’t find the perfect candidate in this election, but we can find the stable, functional, experienced one. That, my friends, is the call we should heed if we hope to unify after the election ends.
1 – The Washington Post dismisses voter fraud as mostly a myth: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/07/09/7-papers-4-government-inquiries-2-news-investigations-and-1-court-ruling-proving-voter-fraud-is-mostly-a-myth/
2 – Time citing Paul Ryan’s confidence in the American electoral system: http://time.com/4532520/paul-ryan-donald-trumps-rigged-election/
3 – The New York Times reporting on Trump advocating for possible Second Amendment supporters acting against Clinton: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/10/us/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton.html?_r=0
4 – Think Progress citing the tweets of Sheriff Clarke advocating violent protests: https://thinkprogress.org/sheriff-openly-calls-for-riots-as-trump-says-election-is-rigged-dfe1a7ffc2b#.obzyhawfl