Friday, November 9, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He spread claims of election fraud in races that don't look good for Republicans, without evidence.

Vote-counting continues in close Senate races in Florida and Arizona. Both states have substantial numbers of absentee, vote-by-mail, military, and provisional ballots to count. The outcome in both cases is uncertain, because the number of still-uncounted ballots is much higher than the current margin between the candidates.

Last night, as the counting continued and Florida Republican candidate Rick Scott's lead narrowed to within the margin that will trigger a hand-recount, Trump simply declared that Scott had won.

This morning, he expanded on that tweet, conjuring up a conspiracy theory of sorts involving the words "voter fraud," "finding votes out of nowhere," and unspecified "crooked stuff." Trump also mentioned, without explaining why, "Fusion GPS"—the firm that hired Christopher Steele, who in turn authored the dossier laying out some of Trump's secret connections to the Putin regime in Russia.

Asked what evidence he had that any of this was true, Trump responded, "I don’t know, you tell me."

And then, Trump retired to his suite on Air Force One, where he spend the rest of his day tweeting out more evidence-free claims of "election theft," a total of nine times (as of 8:30 P.M. EDT).

It's not an exaggeration to say that Trump always finds a way to believe that election results he doesn't like are evidence of fraud. When almost everyone—including himself—expected him to lose the 2016 election, he made noises about a conspiracy against him. He insists to this day that as many as five million ballots were illegally cast, all for Hillary Clinton, as a way of explaining away the awkward fact that far more Americans voted for her than for him. And with the polls running against Republicans in the midterms, he suggested that China was influencing the election as revenge for his trade war. 

Why is this a bad thing?

  • In an actual democracy, leaders count all votes cast and abide by the results of elections.
  • "I don't know, you tell me" isn't a good enough justification for anything, much less what the President of the United States does.