As promised, I’m going to write about another reason we all need to vote in November. I spent a long time yesterday writing for the job that pays me the medium-bucks, so my creative juices are a little low, but a promise is a promise. That’s what I tell Dave after he says he’ll give me a foot rub and then takes a socks-off whiff of my toes. Gotta stick to your word.
Today’s reason is rooted in two particularly dangerous quotes we heard at the second and third presidential debates. In the second debate, Donald Trump explained in his always-eloquent style how he would assign his attorney general, not the attorney general, mind you, but his, to investigate Hillary Clinton’s lost emails. In it, he went through what he believed Hillary did with those emails, and Hillary, in response, said “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” To which Donald quipped, “Because you’d be in jail.”
Now, this post is not about the emails. Maybe we can dive into that another time, but not today. This post is about that last little phrase, the one threatening jail time to a political opponent, and what it means alongside this next exchange.
At the final debate, Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump whether he would accept the results of the election. Donald gave a long-winded answer that basically claimed the election and the media are corrupt and that he would decide at that particular moment whether he would concede. He would like to “keep [us] in suspense” as to whether or not he will peacefully remove himself from the race, as other losing candidates in our history have done, or whether he will decide to incite a mass riot and burn effigies in the street.
While doing this, he continued to claim rampant voter fraud by misinterpreting a Pew Research study stating voter registrations are outdated and inaccurate. The study, done in 2012, brought to light that many states’ voting records contain millions of entries that are no longer valid, represent people who have died, or are for voters simultaneously registered in other states. These errors exist because of old systems, requirements to maintain entries until absolute proof of ineligibility is given, and voter registration error. However, the study never makes any claims about actual voter fraud. It doesn’t say that people are voting for those dead people or that people are driving between Washington and Oregon to vote twice in one day. The study says that we have some updating to do technologically. In fact, other studies have decidedly determined that the amount of voter fraud in this country is miniscule. A study by News21 analyzed voter fraud claims and found 10 cases since 2010. One was a 17-year-old voting in his dad’s name. One was a recent immigrant who received two voter cards and thought he had to go to both locations. Four were people who filled out ballots for themselves and their spouses. Donald isn’t the first person to make these claims, but he’s wrong. Voter fraud happens, but it happens on an incredibly small scale. It’s been proven over and over again that we can barely get people out to vote once, let alone ten times.
When Donald makes these claims, he’s doing two things. He’s telling people that we can’t trust our democracy and he’s claiming that he is above the law. He’s openly decided to take one of two vastly un-American actions at the end of this election: jail his opponent if he wins or revolt against the democratic process if he loses.
Does it get scarier than that?
We’re going to need someone in the White House at the end of this who can rise above whatever chaos may or may not occur at the finish line. I’m voting on November 8th because I’d like a president who values our country’s complicated, but relatively stable political process more than her own ego.