Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton Must Be Elected President

It has been clear to me for a long time that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be President. Though I have known for an equally long time that I would not be voting for Mr. Trump, up until last night's debate, I had not decide how I would be voting. I am undecided no longer.

As a direct consequence of Trump's ongoing strategy of questioning the legitimacy of the election and his specific refusal last night to state that he would accept the results, I will be casting my vote for Hillary Clinton. I think it is vital that every freedom-loving American -- irrespective of their political views or affiliation -- do the same.

The conventional wisdom on Mr. Trump's casting doubt on the election's legitimacy is that he is so psychologically adverse to losing (and to being branded a loser) that he will grasp at any excuse to avoid that characterization. While this may be true, I believe it is insufficient to explain the preemptive attacks on the integrity of the electoral process. 

Trump's baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud began long before it became clear that he was on an irreversible path to losing. Moreover, the allegations of the election being 'stolen' are literally incoherent to a degree beyond even Mr. Trump's baseline level. In order for an election to be stolen from a candidate (due to voter fraud or any other means), that candidate has to be winning or at least competitive. But Mr. Trump is currently trailing Mrs. Clinton by 7 points in the average of national polls with less than three weeks until the election. He has only a 13% chance of victory. If he wins (legitimately or otherwise), it would represent him 'stealing' the election from Mrs. Clinton, but he (and his supporters) should expect him to lose based on the available data.

Under these conditions, if Mr. Trump's primary goal is to avoid the stain of loserism and he's willing to continue to play fast and loose with the facts, why go with this bizarre and unsubstantiated narrative about widespread voter fraud? The traditional (and much more plausible) Republican narrative of liberal media bias ('the polls are rigged', 'the press is out to get me', etc.) maps much better to the facts and would still resonate with a Trump base that is enamored of conspiracy theories.

I believe there is something both simpler and far more sinister going on than Mr. Trump protecting his ego. The danger of the fixed election narrative, as commentator after commentator have pointed out, is that it undermines people's faith in the electoral process. It plays into the narrative that the entire political system is rigged against his supporters. It will probably incite some of them to engage in voter suppression and intimidation tactics, if not outright political violence.

After watching Mr. Trump's performance last night, I don't believe these outcomes are unintended consequences of a thin-skinned misogynist trying to avoid looking like he lost to a girl. They are the intended outcomes of an authoritarian figure trying to undermine a country's longstanding traditions of representative government and peaceful transition of power so that it more closely resembles a system more to his liking.

By running a campaign that involved attacking the political establishment, praising foreign dictators, threatening to jail his political rival and advocating policies that fly in the face of American values and constitutional protections, Donald Trump was trying to transform America into a less free, more statist country through the ballot box. It is now clear that he will not be elected, so, consistent with his political philosophy, he has now switched to openly attempting to erode that system in a far more direct and egregious way than any politician in American history.

There is no longer any question that Donald Trump -- a man who his supporters believe is trying to save the American system of government from a political establishment that has sold out its people -- is actually trying to destroy it. And this is why he must be stopped.

Because he has chosen to pursue his agenda by arbitrarily asserting that he will lose the election due to fraud, it is vital that Trump be defeated in a manner that leaves no doubt that the outcome of the election was legitimate.

I believe this means voting for Hillary Clinton so that her margin of victory over Trump in the popular vote is as wide as it can be. Based on current polling, a Clinton landslide (greater than 10% popular vote victory) is an attainable goal. Such an historic result -- hundreds of thousands of times beyond the margin that any reasonable estimation of the effects that fraud could have on the outcome would support -- would be an emphatic repudiation of the anti-American agenda of Trump and his supporters.

Beyond this, I believe the seriousness of the Trump threat also requires a stern rebuke of the party that has collaborated with him. In my view, this means consistently voting for down-ballot Democratic candidates at the federal, state and local levels over their Republican opponents, irrespective of the relative merits of the individual candidates and irrespective of the Republican candidate's level of support for or endorsement of Trump. To be clear, that last point includes voting against Republican candidates who have specifically renounced Trump and those who have remained neutral towards him, in addition to those who have expressed support for him. The Republican party, its leadership and its base had every opportunity to stop or repudiate Mr. Trump's candidacy. Instead they embraced it. They must be punished for doing this so that it is clear to future members of all American political parties that supporting would-be dictators is a path to nothing but a crushing electoral defeat.

I do not advocate this approach lightly. I do so in full knowledge that, if successful, it would result in Hillary Clinton being elected President with not only a strong popular mandate but potential Democratic control of both houses of Congress. In such a scenario, the Democratic party would be emboldened to pursue the most Progressive parts of its agenda. I strongly disagree with large parts of this agenda and regard the more extreme ones as dangerous and inconsistent with freedom and American values. But, in general, such a scenario would represent a moderate acceleration of an already-in-progress trend towards a more socialist America with greater executive power, bigger government, less recognition of individual rights and continued ineffective foreign policy. But, frankly, this longstanding trend has been abetted by members and administrations of both parties. Its acceleration represents an unfortunate development, but it pales in comparison to how dramatically the trend towards a statist America would accelerate if an avowed proto-dictator who openly advocates undermining our constitutional system by any means possible were to come to power, or, worse, actually undermine that system without coming to power.

It is vital that such a man be stopped. In order to do so, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party in this election. I strongly advocate that you do the same.

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