Prologue: To be clear, right from the outset; this blog is NOT about overturning the results of the last presidential election. At the very least, Primadonald got the minimum, requisite 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure his victory. The likelihood is that next month, he will be inaugurated as our next president.
What then is the remainder of this piece about? It has everything to do with the president-elect’s promise to “unite” the country and how he will be able to do that if his time in office is already clouded by whiffs of illegitimacy and those clouds never lift.
There are two recent historical precedents for viewing the next presidential term through that lens: Rightly or wrongly, GW Bush’s presidency was tainted throughout by his ascendance into office based on a narrow 5-4 US Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. The same can be said for the Obama presidency though for a dramatically different reason; i.e. the belief held by many that he was ineligible to hold office (1).
What the foregoing history demonstrates is that there is an powerful relationship between a president’s legitimacy and his ability to unify the country; i.e. the two phenomena move in the same direction so that as legitimacy goes up, the ability to unify tends to follow. Or, put in the opposite terms, as legitimacy goes down, so does the ability to bring the country together.
Given the foregoing, what follows is an examination of three sources that are currently contributing to Primadonald’s illegitimacy.
The presence of “Hamilton Electors”
These individuals were identified and described in the last blog posted at this site (see “In praise of….”). Even before HRC’s sizeable lead in the popular vote and the story of Russian interference in our election were known, these people had declared that they would not cast their EC votes for Primadonald based on their perception of him as unqualified, a demagogue and as being compromised by multiple conflicts of interest. (2)
The ongoing popular vote count
As of the date of this blog, HRC is leading Trump in the popular vote by in excess of 2.6 million. In electoral metrics, this is no small number and has been used by the anti-Trump crowd to assert that the majority of Americans rejected his bid for the presidency, the vote in the Electoral College be damned.
Russia’s reported involvement in our election
Upon assessing the counter-espionage findings of 17 separate intelligence agencies, the CIA has concluded with a high degree of certainty, tht the Russian government was responsible for hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and then passing on to Wikileaks, potentially damaging revelations about HRC and her campaign manager John Podesta. These documents became public more than a full month before voting day on November 9th and could have impacted voters’ balloting.
The word “could” in the last line of the preceding paragraph was typed in italics because to date, there is no evidence that the Wikileaks did, in fact, turn voters in one direction or the others. Indeed, the likelihood is that we will never know if that happened or not. Whatever the case, the possibility that the leaks were influential has played right into the hands of those who view the Trump presidency as illegitimate. (3)
Primadonald and conservatives push back
Remember the blog’s starting premise dealing with the relationship between presidential legitimacy and his ability to unify the country. Trump understands this and so do those who support him and his presidency. So, in one way or another, they are pushing back. Some examples follow.
Trump himself and others have falsely claimed that he won the election in a “landslide”. This is rubbish. As matters now stand, he won 306 EC votes and that was before that count has even been rendered official. If the Hamilton Electors have their way, that number will be smaller. If you want to see what a landslide looks like, Google the EC results of the Reagan v. Mondale election.
Next, there is the valid claim that there is no evidence that Russian interference impacted the election results. That is certainly true enough as already stipulated above. But the assertion of no effect needs to carry with it the caveat “to date”. The withholding of a final judgment on that matter will await the public exposition of the CIA’s findings and the results of what is likely to be a congressional investigation of what happened, how it happened and its ultimate influence.
It is ironic that the one man who did more to delegitimtize the Obama presidency – Donald J. Trump – is now having to deal with the an assault on his legitimacy. Of course, the big difference is that only the former was not based in fact.As the old saying goes “What goes around, comes around”.
- This was embodied in the “birther” argument that Obama was not a “natural-born US citizen”.
- and 3. The Hamilton Electors initial rejection of Primadonald has now been expanded to an assertion that the eniire EC vote should be suspended until after the congressional hearings cited above.