What would it be like if a candidate didn’t accept the outcome of a presidential election? Witness Hillary Clinton.
Last week, Clinton continued her “I Was Wronged in 2016” multi-year tour, this time in support of the book she co-wrote with her daughter, Chelsea, titled “The Book of Gutsy Women.”
To prove she’s a gutsy woman, she gutsily called President Trump “illegitimate” during an appearance on “The View.” The other gutsy women who host the show didn’t push back on that accusation, and the audience of gutsy women applauded.
The rhetoric marked an escalation from the last time she had a book to push, in 2017. That year, she was asked on NPR about whether the election’s result was illegitimate. She responded that she “wouldn’t rule it out.” Now she’s full-on ruling it in.
It’s hard to lose an election that so many assured her she would win, but Hillary’s ongoing public therapy over her loss is bad for our system. America isn’t some kind of banana republic just because Democrats lose some elections. Suggesting otherwise is civically dangerous.
A supermajority of Democrats believes voting tallies were changed to assure a Trump win. There is zero evidence that anything like this happened. If a similar share of Republicans believed in a conspiracy to steal the presidential election, the media would treat it as a scandal, and the blame would fall squarely on the leaders leading GOPers down that crazy highway.
But the media just help this Looney Toons idea along. And they are more apt to do so in speculation over how Trump would handle a hypothetical election loss.
In May, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote a column headlined: “What Happens If Donald Trump Refuses to Admit He Lost in 2020?” Wrote Cillizza: “Since the moment he won the White House in November 2016, Trump has shown a willingness — actually more of a proclivity — to entertain the idea that there is some sort of broad conspiracy aimed at trying to disenfranchise conservative voters.”
Yet Hillary hasn’t shown more than a mere proclivity to entertain a broad conspiracy — she’s pushing the conspiracy theory on national television to sympathetic hosts. She’s challenging the idea that Trump is the legitimate president of the United States to media applause. Where are the pieces from the mainstream scribes condemning her?
Continuing this insane speculation, Thomas Edsall had a column in The New York Times last week asking: “Will Trump Ever Leave the White House?” Edsall quotes his friend David Leege, professor of political science emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, saying: “We should not assume that either a 2020 election defeat or impeachment/conviction will remove Trump from the White House. Both before Trump was elected in 2016 and during his term, he has made frequent references to ‘my 2nd Amendment friends’ and increasingly the ‘patriots’ who constitute the military.”
Edsall adds that Leege isn’t a nut: “Before you decide that this is paranoia, let me point out that Leege is an eminently reasonable scholar, a former chair of the board of overseers of the American National Election Studies and one of the founders of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. He has been a valued source of mine for years.”
What Edsall doesn’t seem to get is that Trump’s election has pushed once-normal-seeming people to completely lose their minds (or merely revealed that they were unhinged all along).
Leege’s credentials are impressive, but what he’s saying is cuckoo. The idea of a military coup or a corrupt Secret Service overturning the election results is vile. That it’s being printed in The New York Times is an embarrassment.
It’s a fever dream that Trump wouldn’t go back to his Trump Tower life when his presidency ends, and the speculation is all the more galling as Clinton sows real distrust in our political system, with no pushback from the media firefighters.
Maybe let’s stop imagining a future presidential candidate who refuses to accept a loss — and deal with Hillary Clinton doing just that today.