Cracks in America’s Election System?

Was Trump's attempt to overturn the outcome a one-off or a sign of things to come?

EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY – Pro Trump supporters rally outside the State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Phoenix. President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump on Saturday to become the 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Now that the Trump Administration has formally acknowledged that Joe Biden won the 2020 election, it would seem that we’ve survived the outrageous assault on democracy perpetrated by Donald Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress. But some commenters believe he has revealed some real problems with our process that are ripe for exploitation.

At the New York Times, Alexander Burns argues “Trump Stress-Tested the Election System, and the Cracks Showed.” After a few paragraphs outlining what has happened since the election, he observes,

While Mr. Trump’s mission to subvert the election has so far failed at every turn, it has nevertheless exposed deep cracks in the edifice of American democracy and opened the way for future disruption and perhaps disaster. With the most amateurish of efforts, Mr. Trump managed to freeze the passage of power for most of a month, commanding submissive indulgence from Republicans and stirring fear and frustration among Democrats as he explored a range of wild options for thwarting Mr. Biden.

But, as the next few paragraphs remind us, it was all laughed out of court and unlikely to be seen as a playbook for future challenges. Still . . .

Ben Ginsberg, the most prominent Republican election lawyer of his generation, [believes] “the system was stress-tested as never before.”

That test, he said, revealed enough vague provisions and holes in American election law to make a crisis all too plausible. He pointed in particular to the lack of uniform standards for the timely certification of elections by state authorities, and the uncertainty about whether state legislatures had the power to appoint their own electors in defiance of the popular vote. The 2020 election, he said, “should be a call for some consideration of those issues.”

[…]

Still more important, legal and political experts said, is the way Mr. Trump identified perilous pressure points within the system. Those vulnerabilities, they said, could be manipulated to destabilizing effect by someone else, in a closer election — perhaps one that featured real evidence of tampering, or foreign interference, or an outcome that delivers a winner who was beaten handily in the popular vote but scored a razor-thin win in the Electoral College.

In those scenarios, it might not be such a long-shot gambit for a losing candidate to attempt to halt certification of results through low-profile state and county boards, or to bestir state legislators to appoint a slate of electors or to pressure political appointees in the federal government to block a presidential transition.

But, if there’s actual evidence of vote tampering or foreign interference, there actually ought to be routes for challenging the results. That wouldn’t be problematic.

Conversely, we’ve had two cases in the last two decades in which “a winner who was beaten handily in the popular vote but scored a razor-thin win in the Electoral College” conceded the outcome. Trump has shown that a sore loser can get away with not doing that. But he hasn’t delivered a roadmap to overturning the result.

Barbara J. Pariente, the former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court who oversaw the state-level battle over the 2000 vote, said it was essential for Congress to clarify the process by which elections are conducted and resolved or risk greater calamity in the coming years. Mr. Trump’s team, she said, had already breached fundamental standards of legal conduct by filing cases seeking to throw out huge numbers of votes “without any evidence of impropriety, and then asking a court to look further into it.”

While I think we should absolutely enact uniform standards for conducting elections, it’s not obvious how we fix the problem of sore losers filing frivolous suits. Theoretically, I suppose, Congress has the power to tell courts they have no jurisdiction over election challenges. But courts are the venue democracies have for resolving disputes peacefully. Further, as Burns points out,

Even if Congress were to impose a clearer set of election procedures, however, there is reason to doubt whether the rules could reverse the total-war mind-set Mr. Trump has modeled. In failure, he has created a road map for his own party — or even, under certain circumstances, for a grievance-laden Democrat — to wage a bitter-end fight against an unfavorable election result, with the support of loud voices in the right-wing media and much of his party’s conservative base.

Sure. Again, this is all unsporting and ugly. But that’s a combination of a uniquely bad actor as President but also of an incredibly polarized political climate that makes a war-like footing possible. I don’t see what structural cures there are for that.

Or for this:

Shawn Rosenberg, a professor of political and psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, who has written pessimistically about the trajectory of American democracy, said Mr. Trump has been highly effective at exploiting the gap between the complexity of the country’s political system and the more rudimentary grasp most voters have of their government. For the average partisan, he said, issues of political norms and procedures were “very abstract” and far less important than simply winning — an impulse Mr. Trump stoked to the detriment of democratic institutions.

I not only pay far, far more attention to political news than the average American, I have a doctorate in political science and have taught American politics at the collegiate level. And I don’t understand the ins-and-outs of how ballots are counted and recounted. It is incredibly easy to understand why ordinary happenings like boxes of ballots that weren’t counted initially being “found” during the recount would look like fraud to motivated observers who that development disadvantaged.

A memo must have gone out because the Washington Post also had not one but two columns today on the same theme.

Edward B. Foley tells us “This unnerving election does not bode well for the next one.”

Next time could be worse.

This year’s presidential election came dangerously close to being stolen. The only reason it didn’t happen was because, in the end, there were too many states for President Trump to try to steal, with margins that were too big for him to pull it off.

What if the differences between Trump and Joe Biden were fewer than 10,000 votes in just a few pivotal states, as easily could have been the case? The unsettling lesson of 2020 is that a presidential election does not need to be as close as George W. Bush vs. Vice President Al Gore in 2000 — 537 votes in a single state — to be susceptible to subversion of the electorate’s will. The guardrails are flimsier than we understood.

The danger that America faces is not that the losing candidate will resort to litigation to overturn a clear election result. It’s that a cynical and unpatriotic candidate will deploy litigation as part of a broader political strategy — upping the pressure on state and local election officials, state legislatures, and Congress to negate the outcome.

That’s what happened this time. It just didn’t work. But, Foley argues, the “courts have proved the most stalwart defenders of democracy” and thwarted Trump and his team at every turn.

The judicial shellacking of Trump’s fact-free claims gave backbone to these other political actors to withstand Trump’s all-out assault on letting the voters decide whom they wanted in the White House for the next four years.

And yet, it is important to recognize how vulnerable the electoral system remains to this kind of authoritarian pressure. Different individuals inhabiting the same political offices, or perhaps even the same individuals faced with just slightly less clear-cut circumstances, could have produced the opposite outcome this year — and could do so four years from now.

While, again, I think there are legitimate reasons to worry about what Trump has done the last three weeks, the system easily swatted down a Republican President, backed by a Republican-majority Senate and willing accomplices in key state legislatures, trying to undo the outcome.

Now, I suppose that, if the race hinged on Georgia alone, the pressures on the Republican Secretary of State—who has behaved incredibly admirably in the face of outrageous pressure—would have been tremendous. And, of course, his predecessor (now the state’s governor) showed much less integrity in the role.

But, really, all of this just confirms my priors: the real problem isn’t the way we conduct elections or count votes at the precinct level but rather that the Electoral College makes an outcome where the challenger won by six million votes (and counting) look somehow close.

Finally, Toluse Olorunnipa, Michelle Ye Hee Leem, and Rosalind S. Helderman contend “Trump’s assault on the election could leave a lasting mark on American democracy.”

Lingering damage to the U.S. electoral system could be among the most consequential legacies of the Trump presidency, said Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush.

Trump’s effort to overturn the election results in the days after the race has so far proved unsuccessful, as Biden has moved ahead with hallmarks of a presidential transition such as building a Cabinet. But Chertoff and others said the harm inflicted on the democratic process since Nov. 3 should not be underestimated.

“We’ve now seen a blueprint, which has been road-tested in other parts of the world, being adopted by Donald Trump here in the U.S.,” he said, adding that Trump’s attempts have been ineffective in part because of their clumsiness. “But a more effective and a more skillful want-to-be autocrat could use the same playbook.”

We have indeed had the good fortune that the most autocratic President has also been the least competent and most poorly staffed. Still, it’s unclear how a competent President could have employed Trump’s playbook successfully. The results were simply too decisive in too many states to overturn.

And, yes, this is highly problematic:

The lack of pushback from Republican lawmakers signaled a willingness by them to accept Trump’s post-election denial despite the danger it poses, said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University.

“This is the story of the Trump presidency,” he said. “The GOP not only stood behind the president, regardless of what he did, but even as he used his power to attack the basic element of the democratic process, very few took action.”

While a growing number of Republicans have publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory, more have remained silent or echoed Trump’s allegations of fraud. Some local Republicans have challenged the results of their own races as Trump has done, making post-election allegations about rigged voting a more mainstream proposition up and down the ballot.

This is indeed shameful and shows no signs of turnaround. And, yes, it’s dangerous. Not so much because it’s a playbook to overturning the results of future elections but because it undermines public confidence in the process itself.

Going back to at least 1992, large swaths of the losing party in the Presidential election refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the winner. Republicans have been worse in this regard, mostly because they’ve more often lost. Further, Democrats were bolstered in their outrage over the elections of George W. Bush and, especially, Donald Trump because they both lost the popular vote.

The polarization of politics, created both by the sorting of the two major parties and information bubbles that pander to each (although, again, more severe on the Republican side than the Democratic) is unlikely to go anywhere. And the precedent Trump has created is likely to be used by losing candidates on both sides now that it’s been normalized that concession is optional.

But, again, the Electoral College system makes it all worse. While Biden won the popular vote by double Hillary Clinton’s margin, he won the Electoral College by exactly the margin Trump did the last go-round. And his margins in the decisive states was actually smaller: 45,000 votes across Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin compared to Trump’s 77,000 in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    I am much more concerned than you. An angry clown ineffectually pawed at the structure of our democracy and came away with rotting chunks of timber. The next time it could be a more serious and motivated wrecking crew with a plan and the proper equipment.

    I also think you are too quick to put this in the past tense. No, I don’t think Trump can stop the transition of power, but I am very concerned that he is actively encouraging the lunatics to do… something. Whether it’s the next Timothy McVeigh or the next Las Vegas shooter, Trump is sending a clear message to their deformed minds. Sure, every normal person is laughing at Trump’s Randy Quaid retweets, but we don’t have to be worried about the normal people. As proof that there are people far off the deep end we need only look to Quaid himself. And what is he saying? That to accept the results of the election is to give in to socialism and that the partriotic must throw off the “Lilliputians” and heed Trump’s call to action. And what does Trump’s retweet say?

    The president then tweeted “No!” as he reposted a Nov. 21 message from Quaid that read: “I just don’t see Americans rolling over for this election fraud. Do you?”

    The chance that some well armed Proud Boy or 3 Percent-er will take that as Trump’s command to start shooting is all too likely.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Not so much because it’s a playbook to overturning the results of future elections but because it undermines public confidence in the process itself.

    This is the real problem. Last I saw something like 90% of Republicans think trump won and they have news media personalities reinforcing that lie.

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  3. Rick Zhang says:

    Is there a way out? The system needs reform and to be updated with the latest innovations in democracy. If not, autocrats and disrupters will keep chipping away at the edges while the country grows frustrated with inaction and more polarized.

    Luckily my wife and I have the option of moving elsewhere that not everyone else has. So far, a few of my colleagues have moved fully to New Zealand and others are exploring options to acquire citizenship in Italy or Ireland by descent.

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  4. DrDaveT says:

    While I think we should absolutely enact uniform standards for conducting elections, it’s not obvious how we fix the problem of sore losers filing frivolous suits.

    The existing institutional remedy for this is that the attorneys who file and prosecute those frivolous suits get disbarred, and are both (1) no longer able to do so, and (2) a lesson to the others.

    The ABA needs to think hard (but not long) about how much damage Rudy & Co. did to the already problematic reputation of legal integrity, and act swiftly and decisively. If you can’t get disbarred for trying to steal a Presidential election with fantasy hand-waving while grifting the public to pay for it, it’s hard to see how any lawyer should ever be disbarred.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The chance that some well armed Proud Boy or 3 Percent-er will take that as Trump’s command to start shooting is all too likely.

    That’s really a very separate issue from the electoral system. But, yes, it’s always possible.

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  6. Kylopod says:

    You know what the worst thing about this is? All the bogus accusations and conspiracy theories coming from Republicans have completely taken off the table any discussion of the active sabotage of Democratic votes they were doing in plain sight.

    Even if Trump had conceded the moment the networks called the election for Biden, even if he hadn’t filed a single lawsuit to contest the results, the fact would still remain that he made a serious and sustained effort to steal this election, through Louis DeJoy’s engineered slowdown of mail across the country, coupled with all the insane rules Republican states enacted to make it harder for people to vote absentee, and more likely that those who did would have their ballots rejected over some Simon-says technicality. The fact would still remain that Trump openly engaged in attempted voter intimidation, by trying to egg on his more violent supporters at polling stations.

    And that’s not even getting into the the more traditional modes of voter suppression that have been in place for decades (including their sabotage of the referendum for voting-rights of ex-felons in Florida, something no one is talking about in analyses of the Florida results).

    The entire way we discuss election-related problems is screwed up. The focus is entirely on what happens after an election, and the question is always whether the loser will “accept the results.” That’s how we end up with the ridiculous comparisons between Trump’s completely made-up accusations and Al Gore’s highly justified challenge of the 2000 results.

    And let’s be clear about this. The reason Trump’s legal challenges have failed isn’t because they were bogus. It’s because Biden’s victory was too substantial. What if it had come down to one state, and just a few thousand votes? The notion that right-wing justices are committed to free and fair elections is a laughable farce. From Bush v. Gore to Shelby County to several decisions this year, they’ve proven time and again that they will knowingly and deliberately abuse their positions as justices to manipulate the voting system to their advantage. They’d just prefer it not be as cartoonishly obvious as the Trump team was attempting.

    You know all those sports movies where the villain plays dirty, but the hero manages to pull himself across the finish line anyway? That’s essentially the position Democrats are in in every election. The Republicans do everything they can to put undemocratic and unfair obstacles in the Dems’ path. Sometimes the Dems overcome it, as they did this year (at least at the presidential level), but it doesn’t change the fact that it requires them to do better than just adequate.

    The Repubs, meanwhile, have created this self-justifying loop, crying nonexistent voter fraud on the one hand, and then using that as a pretext to enact draconian laws that suppress the Democratic vote. It’s nothing new; they’ve been doing this for decades, and it actually has its roots in Jim Crow. But it also serves a propaganda purpose, because they’re accusing the Dems of doing what they themselves do. Most people don’t believe them, but it creates the impression in a lot of people’s minds that accusations of cheating on either side are nothing more than overheated partisan rhetoric.

    If there’s one thing Trump does really well, it’s distracting the public from the real problems, and that’s exactly what his quixotic voter-fraud crusade has achieved. His groundless accusations of cheating have not been accepted, but they’ve had the effect of drowning out the real cheating that has been going on in plain sight–this year in a particular, but for a long time before.

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  7. drj says:

    A couple of observations:

    * One of the two major parties has shown (at best) an almost complete lack of principled objections against stealing an election. This is the same party that will oversee redistricting and appoint judges in a significant number of states. This does not bode well.

    * The system hasn’t been properly stress-tested because the legal arguments were simply too ludicrous even for potentially sympathetic judges. Think Giuliani and his “normal scrutiny.” Under different circumstances, even semi-plausible fig leaves would make legal hackery easier.

    * And yes, the Electoral College is a large part of what makes these anti-democratic manoeuvres theoretically possible.

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  8. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    The other day a Trumpkin stated that if the ballot box didn’t work, the cartridge box would be necessary.

    I take the threat seriously, but a lot of these fools are just posturing. They’re always threatening to pick up their guns.

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  9. KM says:

    The past is prologue, James and allows the future to be written as an ambitious autocrat desires. We are seeing groundwork laid for future construction of the destruction of democracy. Our grave, dug before our very eyes and ready to push us all in when they choose.

    The worst damage is always the incremental kind that can be dismissed or written off as “not that bad”- y’all are doing it right now. If someone had told past you from 2010 or 1990 that almost half the country would be actively accepting of BS claims about elections and refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election to the point of sabotage and constant insane legal shenanigans during a national crisis, what would you have thought? How horrified would you have been and what questions would you have had? Would you have assumed we elected a Hitler-type monster the public was morally rejecting or perhaps that it was the end of democracy and the beginning of a communist revolution…. because I’m willing to bet younger you would have assumed it was radical liberals rejecting a justly elected conservative President for this sceanior to occur. I’d bet everything I own though that younger you wouldn’t be so blase about it and be somewhat concerned that getting older meant being less freaked out by what this meant. The damage is cumulative and we don’t see how bad it truly is till it’s way too late.

    I wonder in the next few years how many people will be regretting not pushing back more on this crap when the Next Time comes…. and there will be a Next Time, especially if Biden declines a second term and Harris decides to run. There’s no goddamn way Proud Boy wannabes will accept a non-white female as POTUS and so she MUST have cheated to defeat {insert candidate here}. You can’t keep winding people up with “they cheated, they cheated, oh well we have to live with it” before somebody does something tragic. You can’t keep chipping away at public confidence in elections and not expect people to actively resist a system they deem illegitimate. The GOP’s fatal mistake is thinking these folks can be wound up, toyed with and strung along indefinitely for political power; the bill always comes due and later gets closer and closer every day.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: it’s hard to see how any lawyer should ever be disbarred.

    Well, as long as they pay their dues…

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s really a very separate issue from the electoral system.

    Fair enough. It’s off topic but too late to edit the comment. (Although I actually did get the edit button on it…)

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  12. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s really a very separate issue from the electoral system. But, yes, it’s always possible.

    No, it’s not. People are so quick to forget – we collectively decided as a society that votes take the place of armed revolution when one is trying to change the power structure. Democracy only works if people believe it does; otherwise, what’s the point of picking a pointless choice when you know what the outcome is? Shame elections are not the hallmark of a free society but one where the price of human life is rather cheap. Violence happens when votes aren’t heeded.

    By taking away confidence in the power of the ballot, you reinforce the notion the power of the bullet is require to make effective change. Our Founding Fathers didn’t start shooting first, nor did the British – they tried to work within the established system and when that didn’t work, we got war and then a whole new system. The Civil War was the same in that some felt the system no longer met their needs so let’s get a new system, by violence if needed. The system won that time but it’s legacy, thoughts and beliefs still linger to cause trouble today. You cannot make nearly half the country think it’s being ruled illegally and not expect people to no longer trust or use the current system. That sentiment grows with every reinforcing little jab or meme from the right, every conspiracy theory repeated and ingrained in conservative dogma and lore.

    There’s a reason why there’s no lefty militias out in the woods plotting to bloodily overthrow the government so we can deal with global warming and the pandemic. You can’t say the same about the right. One group still believes in votes despite years of voter repression, one doesn’t. It’s not hard to make the connection between trust in the system’s inherent worth and willingness to burn it all down.

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  13. Kathy says:

    IMO, the danger is the GOP’s tactics to suppress votes by the “wrong” people, plus their EC advantage, aren’t working as well as they’d hoped. People tend to repeat and retry what has worked. Therefore the path is clear: vote suppression cannot stop with the election; it must continue afterwards as well.

    Suppose Michigan made all the difference for El Trump. I’ve no doubt the GOP dominated legislature would have gone down to the mat and used every legal, extralegal, and illegal means to secure their state’s electors for The Cheeto. It wouldn’t have been easy, and likely would have wound up at the Supreme Court, and who knows how that would ave gone (we can guess, but we can’t know).

    I see no clear way to suppress cast votes, but there may be one, or many. And that’s one likely area the Republican party might explore towards the 2024 election.

    There’s also the possibility of a coup, or self-coup. A smarter would-be dictator, particularly one who is charismatic to everyone, might be able to pull it off. And then all the legal and procedural protections go out the window. There’d still be elections, but they’d all go as the dictator wants.

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  14. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    People tend to repeat and retry what has worked.

    Trial-and-error isn’t a Republican thing. I’d describe what they do more as the cockroach strategy. When cockroaches invade your home, you may succeed in killing some of them. But they multiply and reproduce so rapidly it overwhelms your ability to cut down on their population.

    Republicans continue doing the same thing, over and over, and the only way they change is by doing it even more, using their own army of roaches to overwhelm the opposition. As mentioned, they’ve been engaging in voter-suppression tactics for ages, and they’re not going to change course just because it isn’t sufficient to hand them a particular election. The answer is to do more and more voter suppression. Similarly, they’re going to continue to contest election results, not because it always works, but because they think the more they do it the more it’s likely to eventually work. You might even look at Matt Bevin’s attempt to overturn the Kentucky results in 2019 as a precursor to what we’re seeing now. His attempts quickly fizzled, but the lesson Republicans drew wasn’t that it was pointless but that they just gotta continue on that path because even though it won’t necessarily succeed in every instance, eventually it will–and in any case they won’t suffer any major long-term costs in pursuing this strategy. Maybe a particular roach will get squashed, but the army will live on and grow.

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  15. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    There’s a reason why there’s no lefty militias out in the woods plotting to bloodily overthrow the government

    When I was young, the left was forming militias and planting bombs.* So the Republicans should remember that what goes around can most certainly come around. But they won’t. They are a small minded reactive bunch, incapable of even imagining a larger picture much less planning for one.

    *Of course the right, through the Klan and other semi-official agents of the state, were also planting bombs and murdering people.

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  16. Pylon says:

    A few thoughts:

    1. If the federal election was governed by federal laws, you’d get uniform election rules, uniform law governing elections and a single route for legal challenges (federal court). The cases would be cut down greatly if one circuit was dealing with this.

    2. The media plays a role in this – they’ve treated Trump and Co.’s frivolous efforts like a chess match instead of the threat and the farce that it is.

    3. If you can’t constitutionally do no.1 then at least pass state laws (or better yet entrench in state constitutions) the fact that the popular vote will always govern the selection of electors.

    4. Prosecute people like Shinkle for not doing their jobs or doing them in bad faith (look him up – this ain’t his first time). Disincentivize such behaviour.

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  17. Joe says:

    @Pylon:

    1. If the federal election was governed by federal laws, you’d get uniform election rules, uniform law governing elections and a single route for legal challenges (federal court). The cases would be cut down greatly if one circuit was dealing with this.

    I could not disagree more. A uniform system is far easier to hack or break than 51 systems, each run by dozens or hundreds of different officials. I think the diversity of our election laws and election authorities is a saving grace, particularly against a foe like the Trump organization that has no appetite to understand the details of state election laws.

    Reforming state election laws is another thing, but should be done at the state level. Prosecuting people like Shinkle is also another thing and should be seriously evaluated.

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  18. Andy says:

    Not to toot my own horn, but things are turning out exactly as I predicted almost two weeks ago.

    I’m also not surprised that an elite media that spends too much time covering national politics as a spectator sport while ignorant of rules and process would be in yet another moral panic about “cracks” in the system.

    I think in reality what this has shown is the opposite of these claims – that the system is actually tremendously resilient. The fact is that Trump did not have any options to contest the election except for frivolous lawsuits and bogus claims made on Twitter, despite holding one of the most powerful political offices on the planet. And the reason for that is the system and process doesn’t give a President any actual say or power over how elections are conducted and adjudicated. Which is something we should all celebrate. This should be a huge win for federalism and the notion that political power, especially in a huge and diverse country, ought to be decentralized.

    You’ll notice that none of these critics offer a better alternative beyond hand-waving and a bunch of “what if” and “might have” fretting. The reason is there aren’t many ways to decrease the power and influence of the President when it comes to running and adjudicating federal elections. We should not want to take away frivolous lawsuits or lawsuits generally because the legal system is a critically important part of the political triad. Frivolous lawsuits are the rope that is hanging Trump’s bogus claims. And in a media-obsessed age, it’s not possible to shut people up from claiming they won even when it’s obvious they didn’t. Nor should we want to.

    But I do think they are right about legitimacy writ-large. The only reason any political system works is because of legitimacy and without that, violence is inevitable.

    The problem is that the legitimacy of our system is under assault from all sides. It’s under assault from Trumpers and their bogus claims of a stolen election. But it’s also under assault by those on the right and left that has purposely sought to delegitimize election results going back to at least 2000. It’s even under assault by the authors on this blog who make well-meaning arguments against the unrepresentative aspects of our system – but the effect is still the same in terms of delegitimization.

    I not only pay far, far more attention to political news than the average American, I have a doctorate in political science and have taught American politics at the collegiate level. And I don’t understand the ins-and-outs of how ballots are counted and recounted. It is incredibly easy to understand why ordinary happenings like boxes of ballots that weren’t counted initially being “found” during the recount would look like fraud to motivated observers who that development disadvantaged.

    That’s because almost everyone – including you – is hyper-focused on national politics. And most interest in politics is as a spectator sport.

    The system isn’t that complicated and it doesn’t take much effort to learn how it actually works. I’ve lived in about a dozen different states and localities so far in my lifetime. In each case, it’s taken maybe 30 minutes or an hour of research to learn about how a county and state conducts elections. It’s not that hard.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    But, Foley argues, the “courts have proved the most stalwart defenders of democracy” and thwarted Trump and his team at every turn.

    And the GOPs will continue to pack the the courts with 30 something, ABA reject, Federalist Society ideologues. Alito, with Thomas and Gorsuch concurring, already signaled his willingness to go along with election ratfrwcking.

    Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.

    The man who said that was actually talking about defending glibertarian nonsense, but the principle applies. This attempt to overturn an election devolved into farce. But let’s take it as a warning.

    And speaking of glibertarians and defending liberty, a week or two ago there was mention of Chuckles Koch’s interview where he said his political efforts have disappointed and he was moving on. He’s reportedly moved on to dumping 500 million into Perdue’s senate runoff. That’s half of a respectable presidential race war chest. I don’t know of any particular attachment Koch has for Perdue, it’s to defend Moscow Mitch’s majority. Koch (funder of the aforementioned Federalist Society) and Adelson and Mercer, and Friess and … are the real threat to liberty.

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  20. drj says:

    @Andy:

    The problem is that the legitimacy of our system is under assault from all sides. It’s under assault from Trumpers and their bogus claims of a stolen election. But it’s also under assault by those on the right and left that has purposely sought to delegitimize election results going back to at least 2000. It’s even under assault by the authors on this blog who make well-meaning arguments against the unrepresentative aspects of our system – but the effect is still the same in terms of delegitimization.

    Shorter Andy: “Votes from ‘urban’ counties shouldn’t count” is just as much an assault on the legitimacy of our system as stating that “An unrepresentative democracy ultimately isn’t much of a democracy.”

    This is pretty dumb.

    Then there is this:

    The system isn’t that complicated

    Still, you don’t seem to understand it.

    The Electoral College gave us Trump. It wasn’t the voters.

    Remember what the Framers believed that the Electoral College was supposed to do?

    So what exactly is “the system” you think we shouldn’t tinker with?

    It’s certainly not the original one; just one you happen to feel comfortable with. No offense, but your feelings don’t strike me as the best basis for a country’s constitutional arrangments.

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  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    There’s a reason why there’s no lefty militias out in the woods plotting to bloodily overthrow the government so we can deal with global warming and the pandemic.

    They’re in the coffee shops and basements planning how to target private homes and businesses.

    Between 1995 and 2010, there were a total of 239 arsons and bombings committed by these [radical left] groups. Of these 239 incidents, 62% were bombings, and 38% were arsons.

    Luckily there were no deaths associated with these attacks, but it’s not a far step from blowing up a factory or burning down a house to attacking the government that’s not listening to their demands–and not caring if the “the enemy” is killed when it happens. After all–as many of the commenters here insist–conservatives “aren’t worthy of mercy”.

    Radical leftists are physically attacking people because they’re wearing the “wrong” clothes or hairstyle. You think they can’t be lead into pointing that violence towards “social justice”?

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @Mu Yixiao: According to David Neiwert’s informative 2017 book Alt-America:

    In the seven and a half years between Jim David Adkisson’s 2008 rampage and Dylann Roof’s in 2015, domestic terrorism in America spiked dramatically. But hardly anyone noticed.

    During that time span, there were 201 total cases of domestic terrorism in the United States–almost three times the rate of the preceding eight years. The large majority of these crimes were committed by right-wing extremists–some 115 in all, compared to 63 cases of Islamist-inspired domestic terror, and 19 cases of left-wing-extremist terrorism….

    For at least a generation [since the Oklahoma City bombing], such homegrown extremists have been far and away the largest source of terrorism in the United States. Even before Obama’s election in 2008–but also in anticipation of that event–the rate of incidents began to rise dramatically, seemingly triggered by Jim David Adkisson’s rampage. And it remained at that same high level for most of the Obama presidency.

    Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly than Islamist extremism: nearly a third of incidents involved fatalities, for a total of seventy-nine deaths, where just 8 percent of Islamist incidents caused fatalities. However, the total number of deaths resulting from Islamist incidents was higher–ninety–due largely to three mass shootings in which nearly all the casualties occurred… Incidents related to left-wing ideologies, including ecoterrorism and animal rights actions, were comparatively rare.

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    The Atlantic has an interesting article about the lead up to the Civil War. Democrats (the Republicans of their time) were the dominant political force in the Slave states and also nationally, but their politicians found that railing against the Republicans (the Democrats of their time) was incredibly useful in ginning up their base. They made long speeches in the House and the Senate railing against one of their opposition solely for the purpose of having the transcript distributed to the newspapers back home. They would sometimes follow it up by walking over to the colleague they had so violently disparaged and apologizing, assuring them that they shouldn’t take offense because it was just for the rubes back home. One Rep from North Carolina, Felix Walker, was especially good at this sort of rabble rousing, and would explain to his victim that it was only meant for the farmers in Buncombe County. (Etymology: Buncombe => Bunkum => Bunk – which we still use today. My parents would say “Bunkum”).

    The historian who wrote The Atlantic article feels that this all got away from them. The politicians knew that they had the power to stop anything the anti-slavers proposed, but when Lincoln was elected their base became so fearful and enraged the politicians found themselves swept up and it was either get in front or get trampled. Thus, the Civil War.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Interesting. Can you link to the source?

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Radical leftists are physically attacking people because they’re wearing the “wrong” clothes or hairstyle.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, but if you wear white shoes after Labor Day, you deserve what you get.

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  26. gVOR08 says:

    In the half dozen or so letters in my local semi-pro newspaper this morning are:
    – Rudy Giuliani is a great man and everybody should stop saying bad things about him.
    – All those affidavits at the press conference must be thoroughly investigated.
    – The EC, gifted to us by the Founders, prevents dominance by the “East and West”. The writer notes he’s dropped Facebook and Twitter, presumably in favor of Parler or 8chan or some such.

    The failure of Trump’s nuisance lawsuits aside, the Stolen Election myth will live on for decades, justifying every future attempt at vote suppression and election challenge. And with every GOP, down to the local dog catcher, running on it.

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  27. Han says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s a DHS report on ELF/ALF activity (warning, PDF download) https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OPSR_TP_TEVUS_Bombing-Arson-Attacks_Environmental-Animal%20Rights-Extremists_1309-508.pdf.

    From the Executive Summary:

    There are several interesting findings that highlight policy relevant concerns. First, there was a relatively small group of individuals responsible for a large number of offenses. Second, although it is important not to rule out the possibility that humans will be intentionally targeted by ELF or ALF (or other environmental and animal rights) extremists, their focus to date on property over human targets has influenced where and when they have attacked. Third, perpetrators were difficult to identify for several reasons: e.g., very few were actively engaged in legal protests and movement-related activities prior to committing their crimes, many came together through personal contacts, and most committed offenses working as part of a small cell.

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  28. Mister Bluster says:

    EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY-…

    The only obscenity I see in that photo is the word Trump.

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  29. Andy says:

    @drj:

    That you believe your own form of deligitimization is justified does not magically not make it deligitimization.

    I’ve been on record here many times supporting a popular vote system as well as a parliamentary system here in the US. But as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, wishing for it and making it happen are two different things. And the details matter.

    I don’t advocate for a popular vote system or rewriting the Constitution to turn us into a parliamentary system, nor do I seek to delegitimize the present system because I don’t see a path to achieving my ideal ends. Plus, I think it’s irresponsible to persistently point out defects and delegitimize results while having no practical alternative and while making no effort to come up with one or effect change.

    So I don’t have much respect for those who insist the present system is not legitimate while doing zero work to change it much less offering any kind of path to bring about the system or changes wished for. That doesn’t just go for political systems – I’m sure we’ve all experienced the person at work who does nothing but criticize. That’s definitely one of my pet peeves. It’s also like complaining about how your spouse is fat, ugly, and lazy and imagining what it would be like to have a hot, hard-working spouse instead; all while doing nothing to either get a better spouse or actively try to improve the one you have. The end result is that you stop respecting your spouse, your spouse stops respecting you and everyone loses.

    I have no problems with “tinkering” with parts of the system. But it’s got to be a concrete proposal and not hand-waving. And those who are genuinely interested in changing the system as opposed to whining about it when it produces a result they don’t like, should probably do something beyond the whining.

    I’m on record here also as a strong supporter of expanding the House as the best available option to ameliorate the worst unrepresentative effects of the Electoral College. No offense, but I’m actually doing things to help bring that about in terms of my time and money and not simply complaining.

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  30. drj says:

    @Gustopher: @Gustopher:

    He also wrote this:

    After all–as many of the commenters here insist–conservatives “aren’t worthy of mercy”.

    He must be on to our plans to physically eradicate the kulaks as a class, comrade!

    Or perhaps he just has a lively imagination.

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  31. Han says:

    @Gustopher: I think the clothes thing is about PETA “attacks” on people wearing fur and leather, but no idea about the hairstyles thing. Perhaps people using hair care products tested on animals?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnWFgJCP14M&ab_channel=PETA%28PeoplefortheEthicalTreatmentofAnimals%29

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  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Han: Interesting. I’m going to just take it at face value and not dig in too deeply since I’m not questioning that extreme leftist rhetoric can attract those who revel in violence and destruction. As I point out above, there were dozens of violent leftest groups in the 60’s and 70’s and even later than that in Europe. They may still exist.

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  33. David S. says:

    I agree that Trump didn’t write a brand new playbook on how to autocoup. People who’ve watched those know how they happen already. He mostly demonstrated that the playbook is operable in America and provided a taste of firsthand experience of it. He did it badly, but well enough to unsettle people.

    It didn’t work mainly because enough Americans still believe in the system for it to stand. Which is, ironically, the same reason it won’t be improved. For all that you concede that the EC is a huge problem in the system, your post overall is another contribution to ensuring it will never be abolished.

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  34. Han says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s actually a rather bad example of the assertion Mu Yixiao is trying to make. Without defending either group, they both eschew violence directed at people, instead targeting property in an attempt to cause economic damage to achieve their aims. Of course, once you’ve started a fire in a lab, you’re not going to be able to control it and it’s only a matter of time before someone dies no matter how careful you are. But thus far I think the only directly-attributable deaths are farm-raised mink they’ve stupidly released into the wild.

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  35. Paine says:

    Woman in the photo needs to be more careful where she puts her arm. Just saying…

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  36. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Of course it’s a sign of things to come. And the next guy won’t be a doofus like Trump. We are in for very bad years.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @Paine: But she’s a Count!

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  38. Gustopher says:

    @Han: I was thinking it might be a reference to punching Nazis who dress like little-modern-no-style Nazis and have Nazi hairstyles — because Antifa is bad and that means both sides are just as bad.

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  39. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    The problem is that the legitimacy of our system is under assault from all sides. It’s under assault from Trumpers and their bogus claims of a stolen election. But it’s also under assault by those on the right and left that has purposely sought to delegitimize election results going back to at least 2000. It’s even under assault by the authors on this blog who make well-meaning arguments against the unrepresentative aspects of our system – but the effect is still the same in terms of delegitimization.

    Not all delegitimization is the same though.

    On the one side we have people making false claims about stolen elections, while on the other side we have people making factual statements about how the electoral college winner was not the popular vote winner, and that there has been voter suppression (when whites stand in line for many hours to vote, or blacks don’t, we might be able to put that aside…)

    On the one side we have people who do not believe in either democracy or the current institutions when they lose, while on the other side you have people who believe that our institutions should be more democratic (right now, by not suppressing votes, and in the future by using a popular vote).

    One side wants to reverse the American Experiment, while the other side wants to complete it.

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  40. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: Since I am not winning the edit lottery, and I want to add more…

    If a crazed gunman shoots 20 people before he is himself shot, the story isn’t “gunfire on both sides.” 9/11 wasn’t “Several thousand Americans and 20 Terrorists killed in Airplane-Building collision — mourning on all sides.”

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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Han: Ah. I guess they are not (yet) like the Red Brigade, the Black Panthers or the Symbionese Liberation Army. Still, with all these West Coast “anarchists” (i.e. strange thugs who feel the need to wrap their love of violence and fighting in a facade of ethics ) looking for the next big thing, it wouldn’t surprise me if things escalated.

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  42. KM says:

    @Gustopher:
    The fact that nobody seems to know exactly what @Mu Yixiao means makes my point for me. What “radical leftists are physically attacking people because they’re wearing the “wrong” clothes or hairstyle”? Seriously, where? When? Why are we trying to puzzle out a vague claim when I can cite several right-wing violence incidents for the last 6 months alone right now, several of them election-related (Rittenhouse, MI kidnap attempt, attempt attack on ballot counting site, TX attempt to run bus off the road, etc) Hell, most of the arrests that happened during the violence from the protests in several states found it wasn’t leftist individuals but rather right-wing shit-stirrers out to cause trouble. It’s not the left and dem’s just da facts.

    OK yes, we may punch Nazi wannabes in the face now and then but really, that’s been the normal American way since WW2. Not punching Nazis is the Kumbaya, PC way of recent decades so yay for tolerance training, I guess. We can always go back to the ways of our forefathers if they really don’t want us to get lefty diversity all over them. However, nobody’s getting assaulted for their hair or clothes. If a MAGAt gets socked while wearing their little red hat or shirt, 99.9999% of the time it’s because of what they said or did, not what they’re wearing. It’s not a magical protective garment, y’all – you start something because you feel all “patriotic” in your “Trump 2020: F* Your Feelings” shirt, don’t get mad someone else finishes it in self-defense.

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  43. Mu Yixiao says:
  44. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, but if you wear white shoes after Labor Day, you deserve what you get.

    There have been several reports of people (mostly college-aged) physically attacking white people for wearing “ethnic” styles because it’s “cultural appropriation” and “destroying their ethnic identity” (or some such BS).

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  45. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    There have been several reports of people (mostly college-aged) physically attacking white people for wearing “ethnic” styles because it’s “cultural appropriation” and “destroying their ethnic identity” (or some such BS).

    Reference, provide a reputable source.

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  46. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Han:

    I think the clothes thing is about PETA “attacks” on people wearing fur and leather

    Nope. This is the current wave of SJWs attacking “cultural appropriation”. Incidents of various degrees have been spurred by cornrow and dreadlock hair styles, hoop earrings, and clothing styles based on African or Asian cultures.

    They’re not excessively common, but there’s enough being reported on to show that the ability for violence is there–and it doesn’t take very much to set it off.

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  47. Mu Yixiao says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I guess they are not (yet) like the Red Brigade, the Black Panthers or the Symbionese Liberation Army. Still, with all these West Coast “anarchists” (i.e. strange thugs who feel the need to wrap their love of violence and fighting in a facade of ethics ) looking for the next big thing, it wouldn’t surprise me if things escalated.

    Yep. They might now be violent now, but it will take very little prodding to get some of these groups to tip over the edge.

    I know it was a while ago, but the University of Wisconsin bombing is still something that’s talked about around here (Interesting point: The guy that did it owns a sandwhich shop a short distance from the University–it’s called the Radical Rye).

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  48. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    You know all those sports movies where the villain plays dirty, but the hero manages to pull himself across the finish line anyway? That’s essentially the position Democrats are in in every election.

    I now can’t get rid of the image of Joe Biden as The Great Leslie, with Trump as Professor Fate and Moscow Mitch as Max.

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  49. DrDaveT says:

    @KM:

    There’s a reason why there’s no lefty militias out in the woods plotting to bloodily overthrow the government so we can deal with global warming and the pandemic. You can’t say the same about the right. One group still believes in votes despite years of voter repression, one doesn’t.

    To be pedantic, the reason there are no militant leftists plotting the violent overthrow of the government isn’t that leftists don’t do these things — it’s that (incessant bleating from the right notwithstanding) there is essentially zero radical left remaining in the US.

    Actual genuine communists are happy to include violent overthrow as among the ways for The Workers to claim their rightful position in charge of things. There aren’t enough actual genuine communists left in the US to form a suburban youth soccer league, much less overthrow the government.

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  50. drj says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Nope. This is the current wave of SJWs attacking “cultural appropriation”.

    Quit your bullshit.

    These are the two incidents that come up when you do a search on “cultural appropriation” + “assault:”

    2016: Dreadlocks cultural appropriation row intensifies as students provide more context

    2017: Hampshire College student denies assaulting Maine basketball players over ‘cultural appropriation’

    “Current wave,” my ass.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I know it was a while ago, but the University of Wisconsin bombing is still something that’s talked about around here (Interesting point: The guy that did it owns a sandwhich shop a short distance from the University–it’s called the Radical Rye).

    That was over 50 years ago, more than a little while.

    Liberals are basically non-violent at this point. It would take more than a little push to get them to be violent. For the past four years we have had a government based on corporate giveaways and pissing off libs, and still no violence. Either there is something wrong with your premise, or the Republicans have been amazingly bad at pissing off liberals.

    250,000 dead, politicizing wearing masks, a constant stream of corruption and outrages, armed idiots storming into state capitals… and yet no lefties blowing up anything.

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  52. KM says:

    To get back to the OP, one of the major “cracks” this election exposed is there’s a huge segment of the population willing to back incredibly damaging to democracy cynical political plays on the billion to one chance it means they win. Granted, anyone with a brain already knew America was polarized and partisan but there was this linger perception of… adherence to the notion of fairness, for lack of a better phrase. We *WANT* to think we’re fair and that people will accept the norms and rules. We *WANT* to believe that people believe in justice and democracy and peaceful transitions of power. What we got was damn near half the country going along with a massive temper tantrum either because they were throwing a fit themselves or were too scared to speak up.

    Americans run on beliefs, not facts. We are not a fact-accepting nation but rather one of fee-fees and personal worldviews. Even if we started codifying all broken norms into law, there will be those whose personal interpretations mean they’ll do as they please because deep down, they don’t believe the other side deserves power. They’ll accept wacky theories and insane “legal” arguments rather than the simple fact that they lost. They have no interest in learning how something works; they’d rather have the feeling of being “cheated” than understand why ballots aren’t being “found” simply because of the order in which things are being done. The more people “feel” democracy doesn’t work, that votes are “tainted” or “stolen” en mass the closer we get to the end of this country. The system fails as soon as belief in its veracity has eroded beyond repair. These aren’t cracks, they are gaping fissures being made wider every day by a team of dedicated miners.

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  53. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    The problem with your argument from my POV is that you are comparing the perceived altruistic motivations of your side against the perceived unprincipled motivations of your political opponents. That is not a strong case for reasons that should be obvious. Instead, I think it’s better to evaluate actual actions and their real-world effects.

    More generally, there is a difference between advocating for reform and delegitimizing the system. It’s possible to accept that a political opponent won a contest run under the rules that were in place at the time and still advocate for making the rules better. As I see it, neither “side” has done that.

    The problem as I see it is legitimacy is not really about the rules, but who benefits from the rules. If we are actually going to have any kind of successful reform effort then these things will have to be decoupled. Because right now it pretty clear that partisan views on the legitimacy of the rules are not driven by principled arguments, but by perceived power advantages and disadvantages. And if you look at actual actions and not motivations, it’s easy to see all the cases of hypocrisy when each side does a 180.

    But I didn’t intend to get into yet another debate about the EC, so I’ll end here and won’t comment further, so feel free to have the last word.

    The important point I wanted to make that relates to this post is that our system proved to be quite resilient against the efforts of a President and his allies to overturn the results, contrary to the claims of op-ed writers.

    While people may not like the EC, that is a different question and issue from this particular resiliency. And those who advocate for ending the EC should bear that in mind and ensure that their reform efforts preserve that resiliency against attempted abuse by the Executive.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The difference between the US now, and China circa 1949, Russia circa 1917, France circa 1789, and other places and times is that the societies that created the events leading to violence and bloodshed were a sizable contingent in those societies who looked in their hearts and souls and decided yes, it is better to die than to live like this.

    We have a society where people won’t even wear masks to preserve their own health, I can’t see many of them being willing to die for a cause. Dying because their collective IQs aren’t even room temperature in my house (I always wear at least ONE sweater during the winter at home)? Yeah, that I can see, but deliberately taking up arms and risking dying of sepsis? Not so much. Although there are always a few, and they DO routinely die for it.

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  55. dazedandconfused says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Re: Civil War buncombe.

    I don’t see it quite that way. I’ve seen no evidence that common people started demanding their elected officials secede from the union, it was the other way around. The leaders started drumming for it. The buncombe certainly set the stage for that drumming to work, but it was the political leaders who made the initial moves, lobbying for it in South Carolina and Mississippi. When it became clear to Big Cotton their “peculiar institution” was not going to be allowed in the new West the push from them was as serious as a heart attack, nothing buncombe about it.

    He may be right but if he is it’s IMO because they started believing their own BS. A lot of people fall into that trap.

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  56. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Coulda happened. But it has all the earmarks of a FOAF story. (Friend Of A Friend)

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  57. MarkedMan says:

    @dazedandconfused: Re: is it’s IMO because they started believing their own BS. A lot of people fall into that trap.

    Years ago I heard a “joke” about a Texas oil man who started a rumor that there was a big strike in hell so as to get rid of all the Johnny Come Lately’s that were encroaching on his turf, only to end up heading there himself. When asked why, he replied, “There are so many people going there must be something to it!”

    I originally thought it was just a bad joke but now realize it is a depressingly accurate insight into the human condition.

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  58. Mu Yixiao says:

    @drj:

    Quit your bullshit.
    These are the two incidents that come up when you do a search on “cultural appropriation” + “assault:”

    Learn to read.

    This is the current wave of SJWs attacking “cultural appropriation”. Incidents of various degrees have been spurred by cornrow and dreadlock hair styles, hoop earrings, and clothing styles based on African or Asian cultures.

    I never once used the word “assault”. You moved the goalpost.

    But…

    You’re right. The left is all peace and candy. They’d never send death threats to

    * A black American woman writing with a Mexican protagonist
    * Artists trying to depict styles outside their culture or ethnicity
    * Two white women in Portland for selling Mexican food
    * An Hispanic rapper who shot a video with Asian stereotypes
    * An Asian woman for having stray hairs that are common in black hair styles
    * An Australian woman for buying a didgeridoo for her father
    * A young, white, queer author for writing about people who aren’t white

    And those are only the events involving cultural appropriation. It doesn’t include:

    * “Being fine” with Betsy DeVos getting raped
    * Saying all Trump supporters to die
    * A professor saying colleagues should “drown all conservative students” (“I’m not joking”)
    * Calls for the “hanging and extermination of all capitalists”
    * A call to “storm the NRA headquarters and make sure there are no survivors”
    * Calling for a “white genocide”
    * Physically assaulting people for wearing MAGA hats
    * Physically assaulting people for holding
    * Shooting at Republicans playing baseball

    I’ll leave it to you to look up them up. Maybe a little time looking outside your bubble will open your eyes a bit to the hostility that’s simmering under the surface on the extreme (and sometimes not-so-extreme) left.

    And that’s just in the US. The EU is a whole different kettle of Go’auld.

    I make a point of reading news sources outside my personal political leanings (which is easy, since I don’t identify as a member of any particular party or affiliation–I think both the left and the right are seriously fucked up). I would respectfully suggest that you read news sources from outside your political bubble, and outside this country. It might help you to get a broader perspective.

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  59. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    See my post to drj.

    Do your own googling. Find sources you trust, since you’re not going to trust any that I give you, anyway.

    Note: “attacking” not “assaulting”.

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  60. Mu Yixiao says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    I’m out of here until at least Monday.

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  61. Kathy says:

    Here’s the thing.

    When a man shot Congressman Scalise a few years back, I don’t recall any kind of widespread defense of the shooter, James Hodgkinson, from liberals and those on the left, nor any widespread fundraising for his defense.

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  62. drj says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I never once used the word “assault”. You moved the goalpost.

    Dude, this is just sad.

    YOU wrote:

    Luckily there were no deaths associated with these attacks, but it’s not a far step from blowing up a factory or burning down a house to attacking the government that’s not listening to their demands–and not caring if the “the enemy” is killed when it happens. After all–as many of the commenters here insist–conservatives “aren’t worthy of mercy”.

    Radical leftists are physically attacking people because they’re wearing the “wrong” clothes or hairstyle. You think they can’t be lead into pointing that violence towards “social justice”?

    And you accuse ME of moving the goalposts? WTF do you think that “physically attacking” means?

    Let’s face it: you made up some stupid shit, were found out, and now you’re trying to weasel your way out of it.

    I’m out of here until at least Monday.

    Yeah, I can imagine.

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  63. An Interested Party says:

    @MarkedMan: From your linked article…

    Buncombe speeches from these southern Democrats typically featured warnings that the Republican Party sought to destroy slavery in the South by any means possible. Many of these addresses included incendiary claims that northerners wanted to enslave white southerners by depriving them of their right to property, and that northerners had already succeeded in oppressing the South by attempting to restrict slavery in the territories. (No matter that southern Democrats and their allies had controlled all three branches of the federal government for decades and had used that power to institute pro-slavery policies, including the single biggest expansion of the federal government to that point—the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.)

    This sounds exactly like the laments we hear from Republicans, some white people, and even some Christians, today–that other groups gaining their own rights somehow deprives the former groups of their rights, and how the political party which holds so much power is actually the victim of the other political party…the more things change…

    Yep. They might now be violent now, but it will take very little prodding to get some of these groups to tip over the edge.

    So we should be more worried about possible left wing violence rather than actual right wing violence…

    Because right now it pretty clear that partisan views on the legitimacy of the rules are not driven by principled arguments, but by perceived power advantages and disadvantages.

    Really? So Democrats/liberals pushing for the popular vote for president are only motivated by partisan gain? They don’t care about having a system that is more fair and more democratic? Well, both sides and all of that, I guess…

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  64. flat earth luddite says:

    @KM:
    @Gustopher:
    @Mu Yixiao:
    Sorry, guys (really not sorry), but yes, the “radical left” did make an effort to ‘burn this sucka to the ground’ in the 60’s and 70’s. See “Days of Rage” by Bryan Burrough, et al. Cracker has heard me say (too) many times that perhaps our generation’s greatest failure is that we didn’t actively help (instead of hindering) the revolution.

    I’d strongly suggest that the main reason lefties aren’t joining the righties in the woods is that (a) we’ve successfully sold out for creature comforts and the status quo, and (b) despite the drugs, we seem to have a better institutional memory about the likelihood of successful revolution. Last one on American soil was a long long time ago.

    But then again, I don’t expect to be here for the final fall of the Republic. You, on the other hand, are likely to be.

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  65. Gustopher says:

    @flat earth luddite: 50 years ago. Half a century. I think anyone worried about leftist violence has to explain why it happened 50 years ago and why it isn’t happening now when things are pretty shitty and there are lots of fine targets to blow up. We even have little bubbles of social media where people can get “news” that helps radicalize them. But nothing.

    A lot of things change in 50 years.

    For instance, 50 years before that, the Democrats were the party of the klan.

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  66. Gustopher says:

    @An Interested Party:

    This sounds exactly like the laments we hear from Republicans, some white people, and even some Christians, today–that other groups gaining their own rights somehow deprives the former groups of their rights

    Losing privilege feels like losing rights.

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