Trump’s Tweet on “Illegal Voting” Encapsulates Serious Problems

Those who voted for him thinking he would be guided or controlled by more sober individuals or that he would start acting presidential once elected: you were wrong.

Donald Trump ShrugBy now, everyone has seen the following tweet from the President-elect (and, indeed, Doug Mataconis has already written a post on the general topic):

This tweet contains multitudes, insofar as it underscores a number of truly grave problems with Donald Trump.

  1. There is no evidence for the claim. This is beyond just a politician with an opinion or spin.  This is just an outright unsubstantiated claim.  It is, to be plain, a lie.
  2. The source is a conspiracy theorist.  It is likely that he is parroting Alex Jones from Infowars.  In the parlance of the moment, Trump is promoting fake news.
  3. There is no good reason to do this.  Trump is the acknowledged winner.  The appropriate route is to graciously (yes, I know) accept that he lost the popular vote but continue to note that the constitution gives the power to elect the president to the electoral college.  He can rightly note that if the popular vote was the mechanism that he would have campaigned differently.
  4. This is about ego and self- aggrandizement.
  5. This stokes xenophobia since the the likely source for millions of illegal votes would be non-citizens.  Certainly that is what many Trump voters automatically hear.
  6. This claim damages democratic norms.  It also weirdly suggests that the election that Trump himself won is highly tainted.  If our electoral system could, in fact, allow millions of persons to vote illegally, then we have a chronically broken system and Trump’s election (and, indeed, all elections) are highly suspect.
  7. It is childish to make a claim like this on Twitter as the main way of communicating it.  If he really thought that there was this level of voter fraud in the United States, he ought to be dedicating serious attention to this grave problem, not tweeting about it.

This claim is not the behavior of a serious person (yes, I know).

This is not the action of a person who is ready and able to be President of the United States (and yet…).

This is a claim from a person with no regard for truth and fact.

This is a claim from a person who is willing to make an ego-boosting claim which is fact-free, comes from a disreputable source, and that is a blow to democratic values and that is based in xenophobia.

I fully recognize that none of this is new and certainly is no surprise.  Still, it is striking because he packs in so much into just one tweet.  And, this is no longer the ridiculous public musings of a reality TV star or even a candidate.  He is now less than two months from being the President of the United States.

Those who voted for him thinking he would be guided or controlled by more sober individuals or that he would start acting presidential once elected: you were wrong.

The best interpretation for this behavior is that he is trolling the same way some commenters do at this blog and elsewhere on the internet.  But since we are talking about the President-elect of the United States, that is scant solace.

And before anyone tries to tell me that this is “hysterical” or that I am simply engaging in sore-loserism, go back to that list and prepare a legitimate defense for each.  Defend untruth.  Defend conspiracy theorists.  Defend attacking democracy.  Defend xenophobia.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. drj says:

    There is an even bigger problem with Trump’s tweet: what if he makes the same claim if he loses the next election?

    Will he gracefully concede (ha!) or will he try to stay in power?

    Will the guy even allow fair elections if there is danger he will lose?

    ETA: He can always claim to represent “the real America.”

  2. CSK says:

    There’s no point in arguing with a Trumpkin about this; the Trumpkins have already accepted as absolute fact the claim that 3 million illegal aliens voted for Hillary Clinton. Why? Because Trump said so, and because Infowars, The Gateway Pundit, and The Conservative Treehouse have “proven” it.

    As for Trump himself, it’s not enough to win the electoral vote. He has to win the popular vote. Trump never loses–especially to an old woman.

  3. Guarneri says:

    Next thing you know he’ll be telling us the police acted stupidly before knowing the facts, or pulling at the heartstrings by invoking a son he doesn’t have……

  4. CSK says:

    @drj:

    I hate to make predictions, but I don’t think anyone has to worry about Trump being on the ticket in 2020. I really think he’ll get bored and quit before then.

  5. @Guarneri: You are blithely accepting clear untruth. You are endorsing xenophobia. You are accepting the denigration of democracy.

    Your snark in this case underscores your own lack of seriousness.

  6. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    You’re way overdriving your headlights here. Your seven points:

    1) Yes, it’s unproven, and there is no evidence. But a “lie” has to have two elements: the statement must be false, and the speaker must be intending to deceive. It’s entirely possible that there were a lot of illegal votes for Trump. Considering California issues drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens, there’s one possible source for illegal votes.

    2) You declare that the source is definitely a conspiracy theorist, then admit that Jones is the “likely” source based on… nothing at all that you cite.

    3) There is a very good reason to do this. Trump is currently “the acknowledged winner,” but there’s a recount move that could cause some serious damage to his presidency. This move is a shot across the bow of the recount-pushers.

    4) With pretty much any politician, “ego and self-aggrandizement” are almost always a factor.

    5) So, it brings up unpleasant truths? That we have a LOT of illegal aliens here, and they had both motive and opportunity to vote illegally? “Truth is an absolute defense.”

    6) “Democratic norms?” You’re a little late to that party. Hillary and the DNC stacked the Democratic primaries to get her the nomination, they tried to monkey-wrench the Republican nomination (see Robert Creamer for some prime examples). And this recount move is all part of that.

    7) Trump uses Twitter because it gets his message out without the traditional filters of the mainstream media. Twitter is a young venue, and it correspondingly skews young. (I personally don’t partake, but I don’t skew young either.) And as the old saying goes, “if it’s stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid.” It got you to talk about it, didn’t it?

    I don’t recall you being this sloppy before.

  7. @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Try again.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    I hate to make predictions, but I don’t think anyone has to worry about Trump being on the ticket in 2020. I really think he’ll get bored and quit before then.

    Sure. Just like he was never going to run in the first place. Then, when he started running, he would drop out before Iowa. Then, when he not only stayed in through the primaries but managed to win the nomination, he would drop out before the election. Then….

  9. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: OK, I’ll try again. Maybe you have been this sloppy before.

    The day before the election, you predicted the outcome, and had it almost perfectly backwards.

    You also got the Colombia peace deal vote wrong.

    I hereby withdraw the allegation that you’re not usually this sloppy. My apologies.

  10. SenyorDave says:

    If Trump believes this, it would seem that the first order of business for the incoming DOJ would be to immediately investigate the claim. Voter fraud on this scale is an actual threat to this country.

    If it turns out to be normal Trump BS, we can add it to the list of apologies Trump owes. First off, he owes an apology to the nation and the Obama family for his years of racist birtherism. Then he could apologize for the years he was an active sexual predator.

  11. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yeah, I know. That’s why I should take myself out of the prediction racket.

  12. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Kylopod: Hey, they can’t be wrong EVERY time. Statistically speaking, sooner or later, they’ve gotta get one right…

  13. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @CSK: Listen to the wise words of The Master: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

  14. SenyorDave says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: The day before the election, you predicted the outcome, and had it almost perfectly backwards.

    You also got the Colombia peace deal vote wrong.

    You do understand the difference between being incorrect and lying. Most people were incorrect in their opinion about the outcome of the election. Trump is lying about the outcome of the election. And some of his supporters (I’m guessing you are in this group), are fine with that.

  15. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @SenyorDave: First off, he owes an apology to the nation and the Obama family for his years of racist birtherism. Then he could apologize for the years he was an active sexual predator.

    He could crib off the ones that the Clintons owe, but they’ll never deliver on that…

  16. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @SenyorDave: I’m aware of what “lying” means. Hell, I even defined it in my first post.

    I didn’t accuse Our Host of lying. I accused him of being sloppy.

    I offered a sincere comment, and was rewarded with snark. So I chose to honor Our Host’s wishes and responded in kind.

  17. SenyorDave says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: He could crib off the ones that the Clintons owe, but they’ll never deliver on that…

    You’re right, the Clinton’s apology will never come. WTF does that have to do with Trump promoting a racist narrative for years, even after Obama produced his birth certificate?

    I ask this in all seriousness. Do you personally have a problem with Trump being one of the leaders of the birther movement? I personally believe it should have been disqualifying for him holding any office, and it dismays me that the president-elect of the US is a racist.

  18. Jay Gischer says:

    You do realize, I hope, this isn’t new. Hans von Spakovsky has been floating this “millions of illegals are voting” bullshit for years. I’ve had people whom I thought to be very smart and grounded repeat it. I’m scared to death about this epistemic closure. For instance:

    http://dailysignal.com/2015/06/02/poll-shows-noncitizens-can-shape-elections/

    They have been pitching this story for a long time.

  19. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    I don’t recall you being this sloppy before.

    No.

    Jenos, you have to have a bit of intellectual curiosity.

    First, Mr. Trump suggests that there are MILLIONS of illegal votes cast. Your California suggestion would not address millions.

    So…

    But a “lie” has to have two elements: the statement must be false, and the speaker must be intending to deceive

    Yes. The person making an accusatory statement needs to provide the facts. Unless he SPECIFICALLY has facts to back uyp his statement, then ut is unfounded and a lie.

    His statement has as much validity as my saying that I am the legitimate King of England… because I say so.

    2) You declare that the source is definitely a conspiracy theorist, then admit that Jones is the “likely” source based on… nothing at all that you cite.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/trump-illegal-voting-clinton-231860

    The claims of voter fraud appear to have gained traction in conservative circle after Infowars, the conspiracy theory-laden website, published an article on Nov. 14 under the headline, “Report: 3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens.”

    The story cites an analysis by Gregg Phillips, who claims to be the founder of a voting app named VoteStand and who was previously associated with Newt Gingrich’s Winning Our Future super PAC. Phillips has declined to provide any evidence to PolitiFact or reporters to support his assertions of fraud. But he tweeted Sunday evening that he would “release a comprehensive research study to the public, Attorney General [nominee Jeff] Sessions and all interested parties.”

    Radio host Alex Jones, who runs Infowars, has faced criticism for promoting unsubstantiated — and often bizarre — conspiracy theories, including that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which resulted in the death of 20 children, is a hoax, and that Hillary Clinton is a “demon from Hell.”

    Now…

    3) There is a very good reason to do this. Trump is currently “the acknowledged winner,” but there’s a recount move that could cause some serious damage to his presidency. This move is a shot across the bow of the recount-pushers.

    So? See “One Term President” and “Obama not Natural Born”.

    But IF the president-elect questions the validity of the voting public, THEN he SHOULD support a recount, and it would lend validation to his lead.

    But what you are saying is that He is the winner… but there is fraud… s it is fixed… but we should not recount…. ???

    Logic fails me in trying to understand.

    4) With pretty much any politician, “ego and self-aggrandizement” are almost always a factor.

    I will admit, I do not have a degree in psychiatry, but thee seems to be a bipolar only capacity for Mr. Trump…

    Either something is “the greatest”, “Best”, “a great friend”,… or “Failing”, “Loser”, “Sad” and on an enemies list for revenge.

    While it will not be heard from anyone on this board, Mr. Trump may need to learn to be a better winner.

    5) So, it brings up unpleasant truths? That we have a LOT of illegal aliens here, and they had both motive and opportunity to vote illegally? “Truth is an absolute defense.”

    You missed the point… Sending the tweet without proof fuels xenophobic nationalism in those that do not bother to fact check.

    Are there illegal aliens? Yes. Do they have opportunity to vote? Hardly. As a person that has worked several elections, this is laughable.

    6) “Democratic norms?” You’re a little late to that party. Hillary and the DNC stacked the Democratic primaries to get her the nomination, they tried to monkey-wrench the Republican nomination (see Robert Creamer for some prime examples). And this recount move is all part of that.

    A =/= B

    Clinton did not request or fund the recount. So: Squirrel.

    Again, if Trump suggests there is fraud that was done on the part of the Democratic Party, then he should absolutely support a recount to secure the validity of our electoral system.

    It would do nothing more than support his statement, strengthen his role in office, and provide legitimacy to his mandate and landslide.

    7) Trump uses Twitter because it gets his message out without the traditional filters of the mainstream media. Twitter is a young venue, and it correspondingly skews young. (I personally don’t partake, but I don’t skew young either.) And as the old saying goes, “if it’s stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid.” It got you to talk about it, didn’t it?

    So you acknowledge that it is a way that information can get sent out without any need to fact check.

    Again, I can tweet that I am the legitimate king of England.

    Can I do that? yes. Am I correct? No, prove me wrong!

    You suggest “It got you to talk about it”… has as much validity as the converstaions of sub-human races in the USA and Germany.

    They spent a lot of time talking, validating their perspective, with no truth.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Stupid

    This is the same Jenos Washington who can not comprehend that United States Senators are members of The United States Congress.

    Stupid

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Simple yes/no question for you Jenos: Do you believe that there were in excess of 2 million illegal votes cast. Yes or No?

  22. Jc says:

    Jenos: “Yes, it’s unproven, and there is no evidence. But,…..” The mantra of the conspiracy theorist. Why do you all waste your time on this Troll?

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:
    The one in which Jenos, the poster boy of conspiracy theory’s, tries to debunk Trumps complete reliance upon conspiracy theory’s to form his world view.

  24. Paul L. says:

    @SenyorDave:

    You do understand the difference between being incorrect and lying.

    The DOJ claims it was incorrect in the Grassley letter about no gun walking occurred under the Fast and Furious program despite emails and memos showing that they knew it was occurring.

    BTW using this logic,True the Vote is a racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic organization that should have been targeted by the IRS, denied Tax exempt status and have it’s members jailed for Hate Speech.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Those who make extraordinary claims need to back it up with extraordinary evidence.

    The fact that you fail to understand this shows a profound misunderstanding of logic, reason, and maturity.

  26. MBunge says:

    Let’s draw an analogy to the Iraq War. Much, if not most, of the rest of the world looked at the same “facts” as George W. Bush and without disputing them, concluded that invading Iraq was a bad idea.

    Likewise, one can recognize that Trump’s illegal voters tweet is untrue/ridiculous and not think it’s a big deal. Does that mean it should be ignored? No, it’s certainly deserving of criticism and pushback.

    But Trump is what he is and shooting his mouth off on Twitter is part of that. We just had an election where people tried to make it entirely about Trump’s horrible unfitness. They lost. It’s time to acknowledge that if you want to win the next argument when Trump does something much worse than a tweet.

    Mike

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @MBunge:

    But Trump is what he is and shooting his mouth off on Twitter is part of that.

    Just keep normalizing your retarded President-Elect.

  28. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:
  29. C. Clavin says:

    @MBunge:
    In the last two days he has imagined, out of thin air, 2 million illegal voters and endorsed abridging the 1st and 14th Amendments.
    Your reaction; meh…
    It astounds me the damage people like you are willing to stand by and let happen to our Constitution and our Republic.
    Meh…who cares, right Mike?

  30. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Please don’t encourage the trolls by feeding them. It is the fact that they get attention for their nonsense that encourages them to produce more.

  31. KM says:

    Well, clearly there’s a major problem with voting in this country. Trump said so. Therefore, in order to make sure no illegals vote, we need ID. But since some States issue drivers licences to illegals (States’ Rights, y’all!!), we can’t trust those States to do it right. What to do, what to do…..

    I know!! National ID card! Come on conservatives, let the government keep a massive intrusive database on all its citizens – after all, it will need to know if you’ve moved, married, died, committed a felony, etc in real time so it has all up-to-date voter rolls! That card will be proof that you’re a true citizen and can do what the Constitution guarantees is a basic right to any random questioning idiot in the street! The expensive bureaucracy that follows is Very Important to Freedom, dontcha know and those Federal employees will never abuse your information or allow it to be hacked.

    What could possible go wrong taking the Mark of the Beast…… oops, wrong imagery! I mean, Mark of True Citizenship (TM). Voting is Important, people. Trump’s gonna fix it for ya. Believe him, after all – he’s the only one who realized New Hampshire had millions of illegals!!!!

  32. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Keep reminding yourselves: Jenos is not an actual person. It is only a role that someone portrays on the internet.

  33. al-Alameda says:

    @MBunge:

    Let’s draw an analogy to the Iraq War. Much, if not most, of the rest of the world looked at the same “facts” as George W. Bush and without disputing them, concluded that invading Iraq was a bad idea.

    Without disputing the facts? I believe that inspectors were sent in to verify that there were (or were not) weapons of mass destruction. Then when site and field inspections showed that there were no WMDs to be found, and that those “facts” that much of the rest of the world agreed-upon were not verifiable and could not be confirmed, most of the rest of the world concluded quite correctly that invading Iraq was a bad idea.

    In fact … One of the biggest foreign policy blunders of the past 50 years.

  34. Steve V says:

    Re: Jenos. I believe the word y’all are looking for is “kneepads.” It’s his preferred word, in fact.

  35. Moosebreath says:

    Somewhat off topic, but certainly about serious problems:

    “According to the Mounk-Foa early-warning system, signs of democratic deconsolidation in the United States and many other liberal democracies are now similar to those in Venezuela before its crisis.

    Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.”

  36. CSK says:

    @KM:

    I’ve been trying to track down the origin of this myth about New Hampshire being overrun by illegals, and I think it stems from a comment made by NH Governor-Elect Sununu that Massachusetts bused hundreds of Mass. residents (legal or otherwise) into New Hampshire to vote for Clinton, because New Hampshire has same-day voter registration.

  37. the Q says:

    Don’t worry fellow Dems, look for a historic Dem landslide in the midterms when we take back both houses of Congress. Trump is an unhinged lunatic. I can’t see anything but disaster.

    But first, get rid of Pelosi and the tired Hillary hacks and start aggressively courting…(clearing my throat since most of you hate this cohort) the white working class again? Please no more dreamer or LBGTQLMNOP sideshow schitt until 2019?

    Because elections and candidates do matter and we could all be postulating on who President Sanders would pick to fill his Cabinet right about now except for the slurpers insistence on cramming down our throats the worst Dem candidate in modern history.

  38. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    I accused him of being sloppy

    Which is idiotic, or perhaps in your case, simply par for the course.

    The smartest, most insightful people in the world are wrong sometimes. Sometimes wildly so. They make incorrect predictions. It’s called “The human condition”

    You really don’t have a single intelligent contribution to make, do you?

  39. Jen says:

    @CSK: The issue that has knickers in a twist here in New Hampshire isn’t so much the people being bused in from MA (but yeah, I’ve heard that one before) and/or illegals, it’s allowing college students to vote. The same day voter registration requires people to present proof of domicile, citizenship, and age, so college students qualify. Sununu is hoping to get rid of same-day voter registration because he feels it’s subject to abuse (aka, those darn college kids). A lot of the rabid right are insisting that all of these college students are voting twice, once via absentee in their home states, and then showing up for same-day registration here in NH. No proof of course, just …”it can happen, therefore it obviously is happening” type of stuff.

  40. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Ah, I was hoping you’d see my post and reply, since you’re a New Hampshirite and I’m your neighbor just to the south.

    As far as I can tell, Sununu didn’t mention the college-kid-voting-in-two-places business. He seemed to be more concerned with busloads of Hispanics being shipped into NH from Lawrence, Worcester, Lowell, Springfield, and Methuen to vote.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Jen: @CSK:

    I’ve been to New Hampshire, used to live next door in Maine and Massachusetts as well. New Hampshire is not a large place. It’s the kind of state where a million of anything would be noted, let alone a million Hispanics on fifty thousand buses.

    Besides, southern NH is just a tax-avoiding suburb of Boston. They ought to let Massachusans vote. It’s the least they can do as they live free and not so much the other part of the motto.

  42. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Indeed, that was Jen’s and my point. New Hampshire’s population is so small and so overwhelmingly Caucasian that busloads of Hispanics coming up Interstate 93, Interstate 1, or Interstate 3, to cite just three of the major access routes, would be rather obvious.

  43. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: Interesting article. Thanks for the link.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @the Q: One upside of the Trump Presidency is knowing that in all likelihood the BernieBros will get screwed more than me.

    It’s not a huge upside, but it’s something, and sometimes we have to take what we can get.

    (Also, I still don’t see how a self-described Socialist was going to win, especially if he wasn’t beloved by minorities that are a large part of the Democratic base. And, Sanders has never had to run a dirty campaign. The failure of one candidate in the general does not mean their primary opponent would have fared better. I mean, really, Sanders couldn’t even beat Clinton among Democratic Primary voters)

  45. Jen says:

    @CSK: I really don’t know what was going on with Sununu and the bused in voters thing, but statewide, same-day registration seems to have the most impact in college towns.

    NH enacted same-day registration to get around the motor voter mandates. If they get rid of same-day registration, those provisions, as far as I can tell, will then have to be enacted.

    @michael reynolds: It definitely is not a large place–as I noted in another thread, in many areas, the town clerks know voters by sight if not by name. The idea of wide scale voter fraud here is patently ridiculous.

  46. @Gustopher:

    I still don’t see how a self-described Socialist was going to win, especially if he wasn’t beloved by minorities that are a large part of the Democratic base.

    I concur.

  47. al-Alameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    (Also, I still don’t see how a self-described Socialist was going to win, especially if he wasn’t beloved by minorities that are a large part of the Democratic base. And, Sanders has never had to run a dirty campaign. The failure of one candidate in the general does not mean their primary opponent would have fared better. I mean, really, Sanders couldn’t even beat Clinton among Democratic Primary voters)

    @the Q:
    The truth hurts, doesn’t it?