Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gotta have an excuse -- so: "the election is rigged."

[written before the debate]

Going into the final debate, Donald Trump turned more and more to his fall-back claim that the election is rigged and will be stolen from him.   Forget Hillary's hacked emails that have come out so far.   Not much there except some embarrassments that could be called  'strategy-room-talk.'  And, according to reports, there may not be more from Wikileaks, at least until after the election.   The Ecuadoran embassy has cut off Julian Assange's wi-fi access, apparently concerned about an obvious attempt to affect the U.S. election coming out of their embassy.

So it pretty much leaves Trump 7 points behind in the national polls, and Clinton with a 90 to 95% chance of winning in the market-based prediction polls, and nothing much for Trump to grab as a life saver.   So, Plan B.    Blame the loss on someone else.

Hence, all the blather about voter fraud, illegal immigrants voting, dead people voting.   Rile up your base with paranoid ferver.   You've already primed them by emphasizing how much the Washington elite, even the Republican establishment, have taken away from them.    So they're an easy mark to convince that the election -- and their messiah -- are being denied them.

There is real danger that Trump can do severe damage to our democratic system of peaceful and orderly change of government. What if he simply refuses to concede?    Legal experts say this will be dealt with expeditiously in courts.    Each state will handle any challenge to its vote;   evidence will have to be presented, and most states have set up deadlines for filing a valid challenge.

But, aside from legalities, it will likely leave a large portion of voters feeling they have been cheated.    Trump can either stoke their anger, try to lead a movement/revolution .  . . or not.   If there's any substance to the talk of a new media empire, it would likely be in the Breitbart fashion of paranoid, conspiracy theory and outright, outlandish false stories.

This direction is supported by a report from the Guardian's Ben Jacobs that the Trump Campaign has hired Mike Roman to run its "Election Protection" program.   Roman came to public notice in the 2008 election when he circulated an 80 second video clip of two tall black men, dressed in black paramilitary uniforms with black berets, one carrying a night stick, and standing in front of a polling place in Philadelphia.     The screaming narrative accompanying this photo was that the New Black Panthers were patrolling voting places to intimidate white voters.   The Bush administration investigated and found nothing much to it beyond this isolated incident, and chose not to pursue the case further.

However, in the 2010 midterms, looking for something to smear the Obama administration as being white-hating racist, Fox News resurrected this video clip, found a long-time GOP operative who claimed he had witnessed the Obama officials at the Department of Justice trying to sweep the whole incident under the rug.    Fox News ran the clip and the story nearly 100 times over the next several days.    In fact, it was the Obama DOJ that won a default judgment against the man holding the billyclub in the video, after the Bush administration had opted not to pursue the case.

So the man who started that hoax is the one they have now put in charge of "protecting" the polling places.   Trump cajoles people at his rallies to sign up to be a poll watcher on election day -- especially in the big cities because that's where the voter fraud is going to happen, the "inner cities . . .  you know what I mean."

In fact, it is widely established and agreed to in high level court cases that voter fraud (meaning voter impersonation) is almost non-existent.   One study found a total of 31 validated cases of voter impersonation out of over 1 billion votes.

Further, not only President Obama, but many Republican leaders are now speaking out against the idea that the election will be -- or even can be -- rigged.   Each state runs its own voting process.   And of the 15 states where the polls are closest (the states a fixer would concentrate on), 11 of those states have a Republican Secretary of State, the official in charge of elections.

Even Trump's surrogates -- even his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Trump's own running mate Mike Pence -- say the election is not rigged.   They pitifully are trying to say that what Trump means is that the media is against him, trying to influence people to view him negatively.    But Trump just keeps on contradicting them, tweeting out his charges:   "It's going to be rigged, folks . . . . at the polling places. . . . in the inner cities. . . . you know what I mean.   Sign up. . . . go watch them.   You have to watch them."

One report says that the sign-up response has been tepid.


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