When a government fails to meaningfully respond to the carnage in its streets, every citizen should question the competence and corruption of those charged with the governmental responsibility to act, as well as the legitimacy of the government itself. So it is, in the wake of the latest gun atrocities to blight America’s landscape, that the nation finds itself saddled with a morally-bankrupt, corrupt, racist and incompetent president. More than this, that president is in good measure both responsible for the carnage and for the government’s failure to respond.
It should be evident to all but the most willfully ignorant that every path there is to remove Trump from office needs to be taken at this time. While doing so is unlikely to end the shootings, since it is actually guns that kill people, ending the Trump reign as soon as possible could at least restore a measure of hope that there can be a better government and a better America. Or at least one capable of banning weapons of war from routine civilian possession.
While this plays out, there is one thing that can be done immediately and requires nothing but voices rising in unison to marginalize Trump at every turn. His presidency is illegitimate. Say it once, say it loud and repeat it everywhere.
Looking Back to 2016
Trump was “victorious” in a very close election during which he and his acolytes openly invited and encouraged Russian government partisan involvement (not just interference) in the 2016 presidential election. Trump did this for only one reason — to enhance the likelihood that pervasive and targeted Russian government involvement in the last months before the election would provide the margin of victory in key battleground states. On this point, Trump was demonstrably correct.
The math is relatively simple and requires little more than understanding that Trump’s election victory in the Electoral College turned on winning in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by less than a total of 80,000 votes out of a total in those states of just under 14 million votes — six-tenths of 1%.
Based on what we know now about the extent and depth of Russian involvement in Trump’s victory, it is highly likely that at least an 80,000 vote margin in those three targeted states was generated to Trump’s advantage. The sophisticated Russian manipulation of the election messaging, aided and abetted by the Trump team’s willingness to encourage, accept and disseminate a false narrative, surely distorted the electoral results and fraudulently corrupted the outcome.
Think about how little disinformation it would have taken in a sharply-divided political arena to influence voters with no plans to vote at all to go for Trump, to switch some on the fence to vote for Trump, or to convince some who would have voted for Hillary Clinton to stay at home. All it took was a less than 1% success rate.
Since we can’t redo the past election, we can do all in our power to undermine the Trump agenda and question the legitimacy of his authority. By doing so, the impeachment imperative is reinforced, Trump is attacked where he perceives himself to be most vulnerable, and maybe a significant part of the electorate will come to better understand that Trump cheated to win. His presidency was achieved through illegitimate means.
To further undermine the legitimacy of his election, even with Russian involvement, Trump lost the national popular vote by almost 3 million votes. This only reinforces the critical importance of those 80,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The Illegitimate President
As an adjective, “illegitimate” is used to “describe activities and institutions that are not in accordance with the law or with accepted standards of what is right.” This word can encompass matters that are “not sanctioned by law or custom,” as well as matters that are “irregular.” Trump’s presidency itself is illegitimate.
Many of us have looked back at the election campaign and the carnage presidency that has followed and wondered how it happened. How did a racist, misogynist, nativist and narcissist incompetent get any votes, never mind win? The answer is he cheated, lied and sought Russian help and got it. The shallow “breaking news” media fascination with Trump also helped to obscure what was really going on in the field.
Now remember that Trump wants more, another term to affirm the “legitimacy” of his original victory. He and his cronies fully understand what it took last time and will do all in their power to repeat the process. First, energize the white disaffected and willfully ignorant portion of the electorate that voted for him last time by stoking the flames of racial and ethnic bigotry and by provoking an irrational fear that immigrants are on the march to make America brown and black.
But it will take more than this, as it did last time. Trump must add to the mix a carefully targeted and extensive misinformation campaign that feeds on itself to overwhelm any sense of collective conscience by amplifying individual fears. The Russians are really good at this — they want Trump to win, they did it last time and they are being welcomed by Trump and the Republican Party to do it again.
Those who whisper to Trump seemingly never whisper a word about trying to win re-election legitimately. That would suggest to him concerns about the legitimacy of the original victory. Meanwhile, it is evident that nothing gets to Trump more than the assertion that underlies all that Robert Mueller and his investigators uncovered — that Trump’s presidency is illegitimate. It was gained through activities that were “not in accordance with the law or with accepted standards of what is right.”
Trump and his cronies fear that many among us know that the Russians gave him the last election and will try again. He both wants and needs that support to win re-election. So, for now, as impeachment makes its slow way to fruition, it is incumbent on the Democrats and the media to use what we know about the past to inform the nation about the present.
Just as it took a while for words like “liar,” “racist,” “white supremacist,” “incompetent” and “morally bankrupt” to envelop Trump, let us now add illegitimate to the Trump resume. Make a sign, shout it out, write about it, comment on it and make sure that “illegitimate” is added to the common vernacular along with liar, racist and white supremacist to describe the current president of the United States.
*[A version of this article was cross-posted on the author’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.