Question: If Trump supporters actually believe that this election is “rigged” like “The Donald” claims, why bother voting? Wouldn’t the appropriate response be to boycott the election because the outcome is “rigged”? This is what happens in other countries.
This is the scenario that Brian Beutler raises at The New Republic. Republicans’ Worst Nightmare Isn’t What They Think It Is:
It’s a fool’s errand to search for method in Donald Trump’s campaign tactics, but if you were tasked with ascribing method to his behavior in recent weeks, you’d have to conclude his aim is to further divide his own party and unite the opposition.
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Trump’s ongoing claim that the election is being “rigged” through voter fraud in minority communities, and his threat to reject the validity of the election result, are no exceptions. “I’ll look at it at the time,” Trump told Chris Wallace, the moderator of last week’s debate in Las Vegas, later adding, “I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”
Republicans were reportedly despondent. A handful of GOP officeholders, and a number of conservative commentators, have since come forward to condemn Trump for vandalizing the underpinnings of democracy. The others who have remained silent, for fear of running afoul of his supporters, must nonetheless be concerned that Trump is undercutting his own turnout efforts by increasing the perception among those supporters that voting is pointless. By contrast, Trump’s efforts to incite voter intimidation and accuse minority voters of ballot-stuffing is at least correlated with, if not causing, an increase in early voting among Democrats.
Trump’s antics are forcing Republicans to confront a nightmare scenario in which they underperform the polls, which are already ominous for down-ballot GOP candidates. But the truly horrifying scenario for them is one they probably haven’t thought of yet, and it isn’t that Trump refuses to concede when Clinton defeats him.
Trump reacts to the narcissistic injuries of defeat and failure by reframing them as conspiracies. He’ll sooner accuse his opponent of cheating than lay his king on its side. But Republicans have to allow for the possibility, however slim, that Trump will do neither of these things, and flip the whole chess board over instead.
Positing a vast conspiracy is already becoming untenable for him, placing him at odds with his campaign manager and his eldest daughter, and will look especially ridiculous if he loses in a landslide, with members of both parties condemning him in chorus. Thus, the bleakest possible scenario for Republicans isn’t that Trump loses badly and refuses to admit defeat. It’s that he rejects the notion that a fair election is even possible with him on the ticket, and announces he’s boycotting it. His supporters, only a small fraction of whom would have refused to vote for Trump turncoats down the ballot, stay home en masse instead. The Democrats take back the House.
This is, I should stress, probably not going to happen. But as long as we’re hypothesizing about the consequences of Trump’s destabilizing conspiracy theories, we may as well consider ways he might pivot off of them, without assuming he would concede graciously . . . If the hostile climate in which he’s running is itself the conspiracy, then he saves face in his own mind by refusing to endure it.
Yes, Trump will have “lost” the election in some technical sense, but only because he didn’t really compete. In a fair environment, Trump could argue, he would have been unstoppable. That’s an environment he can either commit himself to creating ahead of the next election in 2020—by attempting a major disruption of conservative media, and further Trumpifying the GOP. Or, perhaps more likely, he would think of it as a final demonstration of power and vindictiveness, bringing his political career, his stewardship of the Republican Party, to a maximally destructive conclusion.
The patrician prevaricator for the Plutocracy, George Will’s mini-me at the Arizona Republic, Robert Robb, the former media flack for the Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, is actually encouraging people not to vote. Robb: It’s OK not to vote if you don’t want to.
Robb’s Libertarian views are a pathetic paean to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, i.e., “the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness” (rational self-interest). Robb: “[W]e have the ability, and should feel ethically empowered, to do whatever we want with our vote. That includes not voting at all. I don’t buy that there is a civic obligation to vote.”
Robb’s Libertarian views are a rejection of the pluralism expressed in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The right to vote is something for which generations of Americans have fought and died to obtain, and to preserve, and here is this Libertarian fool pissing on their memory and their sacrifices with his Randian objectivism: “It’s your vote. You can do with it what you want” (including not vote).
I entirely disagree with Robb. I have made the case many times that as a citizen of a democracy, the bare minimum civic duty you have as a citizen is to participate in that democracy by exercising your franchise to vote on election day.
But if Donald Trump and Robert Robb want to encourage Republicans not to vote in this election, then as President Obama famously said to Mitt Romney, “please proceed.”