From where I stand here, watching the political meteorology of the United States, the US would be best served by preventing Donald J. Trump from becoming President of the United States. It’s not very likely, but the odds something will change are non-zero.
First, there’s the recount initiative. Jill Stein has called for recounts in some states after there were some irregularities detected in the tallies of districts that used electronic voting machines with no paper trail. Clinton is supporting the recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, battleground states in which she lost. If the irregularities turn out to be due to a technical problem, or worse, voter fraud by hacking then (we hope) that could turn into a challenge of the results of the election. I, personally, don’t expect this. The United States Constitution has no provisions to challenge a presidential election that has been spoiled by voter fraud or interference, as we painfully discovered in 2000. A President elected through corruption or at gunpoint is elected nonetheless. But we’ll see.
And then there’s the Electoral College, still to meet December 19th to cast the actual votes for the US Presidency. Some electorates have already decided to be faithless, and cannot, in good conscience, elect Donald Trump. A small number of faithless electorates would be needed to give Clinton a majority. More would be needed to give the election over to (say) an alternate Republican so that faithless Republican electors don’t have to stomach electing Clinton. One scenario has Clinton electorates choosing instead to elect a tolerable Republican (George H. W. Bush?) so to encourage Trump electorates to vote that guy in, all depending on how willing to Trump electorates are to defy their orders.
On the other hand, with Clinton’s popular lead being over two-million votes, what is the greatest lead (both absolute and relative) by which a candidate has ever lost, and certainly greater than many leads attained by winning candidates, Clinton’s claim to the oval office already has a certain sense of legitimacy. Clinton getting elected on December 19th would be the 2016 Christmas Miracle.
If it does work, we may finally see Republican support to eliminate the Electoral College. And if this doesn’t work, and the Electoral College elects Trump regardless, or the College is ignored and Trump is inaugurated anyway, then this instance will prove once and for all that the Electoral College fails to fulfill it’s function as a safety stopgap to prevent the populace from putting a madman into office.
Because Trump is pretty darned mad. Howling. Cray-cray. As a hatter. Batshit insane.
Mine is not the first article to say that we need to continue the politics of the election, maybe even by other means. Trump’s racism regarding Mexicans, blacks and Muslims is well documented, as is his misogyny and confessions of sexual assault of women (including underaged adolescents), and this paints the picture of someone of despicable character. This is the primary bases on which others say Not my president!. Then there are his other policies, which will sever trade relations and climate agreements, would increase US military action (and brutality, including torture). Then there are the numerous conflicts of interest, where it appears that Trump is going to utilize the presidency to enrich himself, and route taxpayer dollars into his own coffers. He’s going to Ponzi-scheme America while tearing it apart.
Trump’s administration is going to be really bad, and I’m in shock how many people have found all this acceptable, even preferred. But I digress.
What is more interesting to me is when his racism and misogyny are juxtaposed with his more outrageous declarations. The ones that come to mind (without research because I’m lazy) are:
b) Obama literally founded the Islamic State (meaning that Obama used his community organization skills to actually recruit militants, define them as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and direct them in military operations until they were established enough to continue on their own. I think Trump believes Obama took time out from his administration of the United States to do this.
In 1969, Jimmy Carter saw something up in the sky, bright white and bright as the moon. Given Carter was steadfastly devoted to being truthful, he reported the sighting as a UFO. UFOs were already the purview of crazy weed-smoking hippie survivalists, and there was already a stigma against reporting them. Carter’s decision to do so was used against him for the rest of his political career. He didn’t say it was an alien flying saucer, only that it was there, seen by multiple witnesses, and he didn’t know what it was.
Trump’s statements above should be regarded as if Trump not only reported an alien flying saucer UFO, but he also claims he was brought onboard, and was given a physical health check-up and anal probing during which he met Elvis Presley, who is still alive and is working on a new Dubstep album.
According to plenty of post-election analyses, Trump voters largely didn’t take these, or much of what Trump said, literally or seriously. But Trump takes these beliefs seriously, himself. His projected policy, both in his declared platform and first-100-days to-do list suggest he wholeheartedly believes these things. But then, Trump also wholeheartedly believes his net worth fluctuates with his own feelings. The universe revolves around Trump, according to Trump, to a degree of literalness that should be alarming to anyone who might be considering putting him in a position of authority, let alone authority over the United States arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Again, I’m totally not an expert and have no credentials by which to say that President-elect Trump is not only crazy, but a danger to himself and others. Were I to guess as to what diagnoses of mental disorders would best fit Donald Trump’s symptoms, I’d say that he may suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. I think it is an imperative that before Trump is inaugurated as President of the United States, he should undergo psychiatric assessment for the good of the nation and the world.
So yes, Donald Trump is, I think, a literal madman.
* It’s not exactly clear how a recount will detect misplaced votes. The important part of the paper trail (absent in this case) is the part where individual voters make their choices on the paper, thus creating a paper record affected directly by the voters with their pens. Once we stow the record without the voters touching it, there’s a window for tampering.
What we really need is an audit of the voting machines and the software on them. Current voting machines are proprietary, controlled by a corporation and kept secret. There will have to be a dialogue regarding whether we can trust that company to do an audit themselves or to allow third party analysts to look at their code and compilation. It should have been an open source project from the beginning for this very reason.
Even under the Obama Administration, the US has deeply underestimated the dangers of poor digital security. Perhaps we’re going to need a Zimmerman Telegram incident of our own before we take it seriously… like an important email server hacked by the Russian government or something.
Afterthought: If we cannot stop President-elect Donald Trump from getting inaugurated, the next step is to try to thwart his radical policy decisions from becoming law, and if that fails, from being enforced. As President Kennedy observed (in different words) so long as we have effective petitionary options to counter bad policy, we don’t have to resort to litigious options, and so long as we have non-violent options, we don’t have to resort to violent options.
And then, this chapter in our nation’s history should serve to inform how we manage the contingency of our democratic system electing a madman to office. Or, potentially how we don’t.
This year has certainly informed us of circumstances in which a madman can get elected to office, and if we as a nation are clever, we can seek to prevent similar circumstances in the future — Not by the stopgap of the Electoral College, which presumes that some people can be determined to be more qualified to elect representatives than others — but by finding ways to open up the Presidency to a larger selection of candidates, thereby evading the situation where both candidates of a two-party system are unpalatable. Scales of odiousness may be difficult to detect even when by orders of magnitude. This is part of the discussion of the failures of FPTP voting systems, of which the US is.
So now, a madman is the President-elect and we are staring down the threats of runaway climate change, nuclear holocaust and ethnic cleansing. As short term damage-control options are exhausted, if we are not able to obstruct policy decisions to prevent these calamities, all of civilization may be in jeopardy, or will be largely restructured. We may instead need to focus on long-game survival scenarios for the human species.