“We’ve been around 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections and we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them and that is what must be expected of anyone [running for office]...”
- Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for President, October 19th, 2016
Ah, what a difference two years makes. In the fall of 2016, Democrats perceived themselves to be cruising to victory in the presidential election, and they expressed outrage that Donald Trump was not willing to endorse the legitimacy of the results (of his crushing defeat) in advance. Hillary Clinton called Trump's remarks “horrifying” and accused him of “denigrating...our democracy.”
These pious liberal attitudes didn't long survive the results of the 2016 election. Democrats and leftists wasted no time in de-legitimizing Donald Trump's unexpected victory from a thousand different angles. He lost the popular vote. The electoral college is outmoded. The Russians swayed the outcome with their Facebook ads and their connivance with WikiLeaks. And, if all else fails, Traitor-in-Chief Donald Trump was working for his dark lord Vladimir Putin all along.
To this day, many Democrats and liberals do not regard Trump as the legitimate president, they pine for any opportunity to remove him from office, and a shocking number of them believe that he never won the election in the first place – that instead the vote totals were rigged. There is not a shred of evidence to substantiate this belief, but it can hardly surprise us that a majority of Democrats subscribe to it. After all, the mainstream media has fed them a steady diet of Trump hatred and conspiracy theories about a “stolen” election for two years. Democrats and liberals are merely connecting the dots supplied to them by left-wing opinion leaders. A more thorough-going “denigration” of the outcome of a free and fair democratic election would be hard to imagine.
For Donald Trump and every member of his family, the consequences for having the temerity to challenge liberal and establishment dominance (successfully!) have been dire. An unprecedented campaign to destroy the Trumps – personally, politically, financially, and criminally – has been waged by the Left. No stone has been left unturned. Presumably, this onslaught is meant not only to damage the president and his family, but also to send a message to anyone who dares to support Trump or his policies. That message is a simple one: the liberal wrecking ball will spare no one.
Pivotal to the Left's strategy for overturning the Trump presidency and reestablishing the Democratic Party's grip on power is the “denigration,” as Hillary Clinton puts it, of all elections that Democrats fail to win. The only reason that such complaints of electoral malfeasance are not currently at the top of the news media and the Left's agenda is because Democrats recently won the House – and this effectively granted U.S. democracy a temporary reprieve.
The Left's real attitudes to the integrity of the democratic process were laid bare in Georgia, however, where the cherished hope of a liberal/socialist black female governor was thwarted by retrograde voters. Republican Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Governor's race by a thin but decisive margin. Abrams refused to accept the legitimacy of the election results, however, and would neither concede victory to Kemp nor wish him well. Several prominent Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, declared that the election had been “stolen” by Republicans.
What was their evidence? Voters who had not voted for several cycles had been purged from the voter rolls – as is normal in any election. Long lines developed at some polling places – as is normal in any election, especially one that featured such high turnout. Voting machines failed to function perfectly at all polling locations – as happens in any election. And, lastly, Brian Kemp, who at the time of the election was serving as Georgia's Secretary of State, had the nerve to enforce Georgia's election laws. Abrams was particularly upset that voters were required to file absentee ballot applications with the correct spelling of their name, their address, the year of their birth, and a valid signature. Where mismatching information cropped up, however, voters were not “disenfranchised.” They had numerous remedial options to ensure that their votes would be counted. I have seen no systematic analysis of the gubernatorial election in Georgia that indicates that, writ large, the conduct of the election was anything but ordinary.
Nevertheless, Democrats spun all this into a Jim Crow-style racist campaign to deny black Georgians their right to vote. But we should make no mistake: black participation in the 2018 gubernatorial election broke all records. In fact, never in the history of the state of Georgia have blacks ever been less “disenfranchised” than they were in 2018. Moreover, a small but, as it turned out, decisive minority of black Georgians rejected Stacey Abrams' identity politics and voted instead for Brian Kemp. Still, race-baiting liberals (pardon the redundancy) claimed that their favored candidate had been cheated, and Brian Kemp is therefore not the legitimate winner of the election that made him Georgia's Governor. What cheek!
Georgia is just the latest manifestation of the Left's growing detestation for any democratic process that leads, or could lead, to its defeat. Basic American institutions – the U.S. Constitution, the Senate, the Supreme Court – are increasingly called into question by leftists, and our laws and our justice system are increasingly seen by them as mere vehicles to achieve their ultimate aims: the capture of power and the destruction of their enemies.
Under these circumstances, Americans can expect an ugly primary election process as Democrats choose their presidential candidate in 2020. For once, liberals will accuse, not Republicans, but one another of electoral improprieties and, no doubt, of racism and sexism as well.
Americans can also expect one of two outcomes in the 2020 presidential election itself: either Democrats will win, and they will therefore decide to tolerate the prolongation of American democracy a while longer, so long as their ascendancy is assured; or Donald Trump will be re-elected, in which case the wheels will come off the Left's fidelity to democracy altogether. The consequences can only be imagined.
Liberals like to claim that President Trump represents a threat to American democracy and that their basic rights are under threat (although their loud and public protestations to this effect somewhat undercut their point). They are half right: our democracy is on life support, but it is not Donald Trump who made it so.
Leftists should take a long, hard look in the mirror, and ask themselves whether democratic processes and values can long survive the intolerant and vengeful impulses that now predominate in their own ranks.
Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com. He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480.