Friday, January 20, 2017

On Trump as ‘Illegitimate’

Democratic Rep. John Lewis says he's doesn't consider Donald Trump a "legitimate president," because, he claims, the Russians helped him win the White House. Consequently, Lewis said he would not attend Trump’s inauguration today (1/20/17). So reported the Associated Press.

As AP continued, quoting Lewis, “‘I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.’” AP also quoted another Democrat, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, as mentioning that “the majority of voters did not vote for Trump.” AP observed that “Democrat Clinton received 2.9 million more votes than Trump but lost the Electoral College vote.”

Donald Trump reacted to Lewis on Twitter, attacking his record in representing his Georgia district. I will not defend Trump’s tactic, although he does have a right to rebuttal. My point is to defend the Electoral College as well as the integrity of the election.

The Russian activities such as the DNC hack and release of information is not the same as vote tampering. Voters are subjected to a flood of news and information, much of it false or half true, from all kinds of sources. Foreign attempts to influence American elections is not a new phenomenon. The Russian activities were illegal and should be taken very seriously. But that does not rise to the level of tampering with actual votes, voting machines and processes, or the counting of votes. That would de-legitimize the election. But that did not happen. It’s up to Americans to consider the information before voting. True, many Americans are not thoughtful voters. But thoughtlessly shallow voters are not a monopoly of the Republican Party. Russian shenanigans notwithstanding, Americans made up their own minds and cast their votes, all of which were counted. End of story.

Lewis himself did not mention the dichotomy of results between the popular vote and Electoral College, at least not according to reports. He’s probably too smart and too experienced a politician to stoop to accusing Trump of being illegitimate in that respect, given that he was duly and constitutionally elected. But it was mentioned in the article, and many of lesser character cling to the popular vote/Electoral vote disparity in a desperate attempt to advance the notion that Trump is illegitimate.

There is nothing sacred about a national popular vote—not in a constitutional republic based on rule of law and limited, individual rights-protecting government; not in a United States of America. The national popular vote is irrelevant—and logically so—given the wide diversity of interests and concerns among the people in the states. In fact, if you take out California, by far the biggest state, Trump won the national popular vote by 1.5 million (at last count). California went for Clinton by a 4.3 million vote margin. That’s a lopsided 62-32%, way out of touch with the national electoral mainstream but enough to swing the national popular vote totals to Clinton. If you take out New York, another big state with a similarly lopsided Clinton margin, Trump won the other 48 states by 3.2 million. There were no large states that went for Trump by anything close to the CA-NY margins. Even reliably Republican Texas, the second biggest state, only gave Trump a 9% point margin. I mention this only so one can easily see why the national totals are irrelevant.

It’s interesting that, for all of the Left’s concern for “diversity,” so many of them care so little about meaningful diversity. We always hear about “polarization.” The Electoral College, by encouraging presidential candidates to recognize the diversity across the states, tends to reduce that polarization. That’s a good thing—and we have the Electoral College to thank for that.

Though a reluctant Trump voter, I am not a Trump fan. But I have to say: The whiny sore losers who are now calling Donald Trump illegitimate because he failed to win the national popular vote are hypocrites. Throughout the 2016 campaign, most pollsters were consistently predicting a close popular vote but a large win for Hillary in the Electoral College. We regularly heard that Trump had a difficult “path to victory” based on the electoral map, even at points where he pulled even or slightly ahead in the popular tracking polls. Where were these high-minded Hillary supporters when it looked like the Electoral College would work in her favor? Not a peep.

And what about the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry? That race almost produced an exactly opposite result, favoring the Democrat Kerry. In 2004, a swing of a mere 60,000 votes in Ohio, which Bush narrowly won, would have handed John Kerry that state’s 20 Electoral votes, making Kerry the president with a 271-266 electoral win despite G. W. Bush’s 3+ million national popular vote majority. Bush’s margin was larger than Hillary’s, yet Kerry came within a whisker of victory.

Does anybody really believe that, had Trump won the national popular vote but lost the election, or if Kerry had squeaked by in Ohio, that these same folks would be screaming their heads off about how “unfair” it all is or refusing to attend the inaugurations of the “illegitimate” President Kerry or President Hillary Clinton? Don’t make me laugh.

Trump and Clinton both went in and played by the same rules. Both campaigned for an Electoral Vote majority, not a popular vote majority. Trump won the election fair and square. Trump is the legitimately elected president of the United States.

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Anonymous said...

Incidentally, California changed its voting rules. Now the two top vote getters in the primaries (it doesn't matter which) run against each other in the general election. In 2016 the two top vote getters were democrats (Harris and Sanchez). So there was no republican running for senate to encourage republicans to vote statewide.

-Steve Jackson

Michael A. LaFerrara said...