Yes, “below” (as opposed to “above”) because the likelihood is that tomorrow night’s third and last presidential debate will take us to a brand new nadir in US politics. While HRC is apt to maintain some dignity and commander-in-chief demeanor, expect Primadonald to go on full-throated attack with fangs bared, dredging up anything and everything that he believes can diminish his opponent’s stature and either turn voters back his way or cause them to just sit the election out. Will it work? Probably not. As recent polls have shown, the vast majority of the electorate has pretty much made up their minds, and a rant is unlikely to change that though it will play well with Trump’s rabid base. All this said, let’s look beyond the debate and consider what may be in store for us during the next three weeks prior to election day.
Once the first debate had come and gone, national polls started to slowly but surely trend towards HRC. That shift was accentuated by the release of the now-infamous Access Hollywood audio-tape of Primadonald boasting about his freedom if not entitlement to engage in predatory sexual behavior with women. Trump, who is a devout poll-watcher has taken all this in and at some level must realize that his chances of becoming president are fast slipping away.
In an effort to save his candidacy, the NY tycoon has abandoned any pretense of trying to appeal to swing voters and even committed HRC fans. Instead, he has opted for rallying his base in the belief that if its members turn out in sufficient numbers, he’ll win. To keep those supporters’ enthusiasm at a high level, he has trotted out one conspiracy theory after another, including, the idea that HRC has relied on medication to get her through the debates, and the media and the Clinton campaign have colluded to better insure that the election in won by the former Secretary of State. Most troubling of all, is Trump’s repeated assertion that the election is rigged and there already exists, “large-sale” voter fraud. (1)
This latter claim is not just unprecedented; it tears at the very fabric of one of our most cherished institutions: the democratic electoral process and the smooth and legitimate transfer of power to the incoming president. Indeed, the fact that we have conducted that transition successfully for well over 220 years is one of the things that makes us exceptional. Trump is engaged in the very dangerous business of subverting that process with his talk of rigging, and calls to his faithful to engage in unauthorized monitoring of various polling stations.
And what does Primadonald do if he loses the election? Does he offer a gracious, conciliatory concession speech or return to his “rigged” belief? The bet here is that we will be asked to swallow a statement that both reinforces the “rigged” claim even as the candidate announces with faux chivalry that he will accept the outcome for the “good of the country”.
If this just-cited scenario plays out pretty much as described, it will sow seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of the new president and thereby, make it harder for her to govern.At a time when we remain stuck in a moribund economic recovery and with national security issues both at home and abroad, that cannot be a good thing.
- A simple Google search using the key phrase “studies of US national voter fraud” will take you to a number of such projects, the consensus finding of which is that voter fraud occurs so rarely as to have no better than a decidedly insignificant impact on election outcomes. This same basic result also leads to the conclusion that the voter ID laws enacted in various states represented a solution for a nonexistent problem.