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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nothing is so pitiable as a sore loser

Voter Intimidation
Vote rigging in 1876. Could be this is what Trump had in mind with
"Make America Great Again" slogan. Or with his call for poll watchers
Some years ago, I visited Constitution Hall in Philadelphia with my then-young children. The guide, a young man, said, “One of the most momentous events in world history happened in this room.” Long pause.

He continued: “George Washington decided not to run for re-election. He could have but he didn’t. He could have appointed himself king. He was the most popular man in the new nation. But he stepped aside and there was another election.

And he was succeeded by John Adams. Adams didn’t inherit the office. He had to win the election.” He went on to explain how unusual it was to have a peaceful transfer of power in a world of hereditary kings, tribes, and dynasties.

The young man’s reverence for our democracy has remained with me all these years. 

In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election in Florida by 537 votes.

The winning candidate, George W. Bush was the big brother of the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. Ralph Nader won nearly 100,000 votes in Florida.

Gore had good reason to be angry and feel cheated. But Gore was gracious. He conceded, and he never complained that the system was “rigged.”

[There was one other election where the loser won the popular vote and may have even won the electoral college, in 1876, but a deal was struck that gave the election to Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel J. Tilden. The deal involved an agreement to end Reconstruction, withdraw federal troops from the south, and leave southern blacks to the mercy of southern whites. That was not included in my high school U.S. history textbook in Texas.]

What is remarkable in the election of 2016 is that the Republican nominee is claiming that the entire electoral system is rigged before the election has occurred.

He offers no evidence for this belief. There is none.

The election system is very decentralized, and besides, most states now have Republican governors. There is no rigging going on.

At the conclusion of the third debate, he refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost. That shocked a lot of people. The next day he said he would accept the results “if he won.” Not good enough.

Donald Trump is trying to discredit the election and the American electoral process because he is behind in the polls.

Clearly, he doesn’t understand that a basic rule of democracy is to be dignified and gracious, whether in victory or defeat.

Instead, he prefers to sow doubt about the legitimacy of democracy itself. He must have been a horribly spoiled child, raised with a sense of entitlement.

Maybe his father fixed all the games he played in so he could always win.

Nothing is so pitiable as a sore loser.