When Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, Republicans sought to undermine his presidency by purveying the falsehood that he’s not an American citizen. Donald Trump was a prominent promoter of the lie, the face of the so-called “birther” movement.
Soon Trump’s presidency will begin, marked by the stigma of his words and deeds. But the most devastating burden he’ll face is doubt about his own legitimacy. Talk about karma.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, more than two weeks after Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency, votes were still being counted. As of that day, Clinton was ahead by more than 2 million votes — or 1.5 percent.
Put another way, Trump lost the popular vote by a 1.5 percent margin that continues to grow. That’s significant. It’s a larger margin of victory than either John Kennedy’s win in 1960 or Richard Nixon’s in 1968.
In fact, Clinton has won more votes than any presidential contender in the nation’s history.
Trump certainly cannot lay claim to a mandate. Only 58 percent of registered voters even cast ballots in the race that he numerically lost. The vast majority of eligible voters did not support him at the polls.
Votes are still being counted, and Clinton’s majority is expected to grow. However, most of the uncounted ballots are from states that Clinton won, and there just aren’t enough uncounted votes in states that she lost by narrow margins to give her the White House.
Unfortunately for the nation, her growing majority will not change the outcome in the Electoral College, which determines the winner. When members of the Electoral College cast their votes on Dec. 19, he’ll receive 290 to her 232.
Trump’s opponents have been waging online campaigns to convince Electoral College voters to honor the will of the people and vote for Clinton. More than 4.5 million people have already signed a petition to that effect on Change.org.
Although some electors are not legally bound to vote for the candidate who won their states, there’s virtually no chance that enough of them would vote for Clinton to hand her a victory. Even if they did, it’s inconceivable that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives would accept such a result on Jan. 6, 2017.
The prospect of persuading the Electoral College to alter the election outcome is pure fantasy, something to help us progressives get through the pain of the 11/9 catastrophe.
Neo-Nazis rejoice, baggage piled high
Meanwhile, progressives are pouring our fears and sorrows into ongoing protests against Trump’s presidency. Peaceful marches continued for a second, post-election weekend. Helping to fuel them now is horror over Trump’s hard-right choices for leadership roles in his administration.
Some of those appointments are so right-wing — even alt-right — that the editor of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer praised them in an online editorial. His truth-telling is frightening: “Honestly, I didn’t even expect this to all come together so beautifully. It’s like we’re going to get absolutely everything we wanted. Basically, we are looking at a Daily Stormer Dream Team in the Trump administration.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, no president has taken office with the baggage Trump carries, particularly his globe-sprawling, complex business affairs that on their face present endless conflicts of interest.
For instance, through his Byzantine partnerships and shell companies, the president-elect owes huge sums of money to the state-owned Bank of China and Russian investors close to Vladimir Putin, according to CBS and the LA Times respectively.
How does one begin to square that circle?
Add in the temperament of a 5-year-old boy and his record of maligning and lying and taking advantage, and our guess is that, by Inauguration Day, the sense of buyer’s remorse permeating the nation will be thicker than winter smog in Beijing (where the leaders understand climate change).
With doubts about his legitimacy, the ongoing protests, the rejoicing of the alt-right, and the ethical baggage of his businesses, the next few months could prove every bit as incendiary as the 2016 campaign.
Remember, Trump doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way.
Like the campaign, all of this will make for great television — as American democracy circles the drain.