Some things should be more self-evident than they apparently are. For instance — if I cheat to win at a game, I did not therefore “win” the game. Wins outside the rules do not count as wins. How can they?
Just because the “winner” says he won, that doesn’t mean anything. Cheaters are usually biased toward their cheating. An adulterer who tells his partner he wasn’t cheating isn’t just an adulterer, he’s a liar too. When Donald Trump claims he “won” the 2016 election, he’s both a cheater and a liar. He didn’t win anything; the best that can be said is that Russia won the election for him.
But then, Russia can’t — by law — do any such thing. If Russia helped him in any way, it means Trump did not “win” and we know for a fact that Russia helped him — exposing Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails on request. Donald Trump made his presidency illegitimate right in front of our faces.
The onus is on us for not holding him accountable. Just like the onus is on us for not enforcing the rule of law. That’s not a reflection on the rule of law or its effectiveness, it’s a reflection on us — and our fecklessness.
It’s a reflection on our news media and its refusal to aggregate the most important story any of them will ever cover. When they get to the retrospect part of their careers, an awful lot of American journalists are going to feel profoundly disappointed in themselves. At least they better.
In any other situation, a cheater revealed would be relieved of his spoils. Thieves don’t get to keep what they stole. But, for some reason, a lot of otherwise reasonable Americans have it in their heads that a presidency is different somehow. A stolen presidency is a thing apart — and regardless of how egregious the theft and how damaging the outcome, we’re… “obligated” to maintain everything the criminal did even if it’s antithetical to how the majority of us voted — and even if the criminal’s whole intent was act contrary to what the majority want.
Someone please explain where the logic is in this. Spoiler alert — there isn’t any.
We need to understand a stolen election result as a real, viable thing. It’s not an abstraction beyond real action. If someone cheated to win one of Trump phony beauty pageants, the cheater wouldn’t get to keep her crown, her prizes or any of the money. She’d have to give it back — because it belongs to the REAL winner.
Our 2016 election did not and does not belong to Donald Trump and the Republicans. We’re finally beginning to grasp how easily (and likely) Russians or other malignant actors could have altered voting machine tallies. Any voting machine that connects to the internet is vulnerable. Just like our phones and computers. If someone wants to hack in, they’re likely to get in. And Russia wanted to hack in in the very worst way. The election results belong, in fact, to We The People.
Here’s another thing We The People should remain clear on. As I said, we stopped enforcing the rule of law. That doesn’t mean it ever stopped being in effect. The rule of law has ALWAYS been in effect. Hell, we’ve been using it against people like Reality Winner who was among the first to warn us that Donald Trump and Russia had an overly tight relationship. Various police departments around the country have been “using” (abusing actually) the rule of law as the basis for punishing black and brown people.
Republicans will want us to agree with them that while they were running amok, the rule of law wasn’t in effect so therefore their running amok could’t be criminal. We need to disabuse them of this nonsense. The rule of law didn’t let us down, we let it down. But that’s going to change starting right now. The rule of law has always been in fine working order but it cannot prosecute itself. We are going to not only return to enforcing the rule of law but we will make it explicitly clear: henceforth, we will prosecute the rule of law evenly.
That means any time anyone violates it, they must answer for it. Any time & any one.
That way, we’ll know when people cheat — and, hopefully, we’ll get better at responding to it in real time. It should never again take us four years to realize we’re being bamboozled.
And, once we do realize we’ve been taken? We need to act swiftly so that the criminal acts stop immediately.