According to a Washington Post-ABC poll, 58 percent majority of Clinton supporters say they accept Trump’s election, while 33 percent do not. Questions about Trump’s victory are passionate — 27 percent of Clinton supporters feel “strongly” he did not win legitimately.
Those millions who are in the streets to protest the election certainly feel the result was illegitimate.
Republicans were certain the election was rigged before the vote was counted. Today, however, 99 percent are certain it was fair and square and that those who think it was illegitimate are out of line.
Those who give definition to words say that something is legitimate if it is in accordance with established rules, principle, or standards.
How do you apply that standard to this election? That definition of “legitimate” can’t apply to a candidate who tossed aside all of the “established rules, principle, or standards.” The day after his stunning victory, the Washington Post President-elect Trump, “ignored the rules of modern politics and spoke to Americans in plain, even coarse, everyday language, without massaging his words through the data-driven machinery of consultants, focus groups and TV commercials.”
Donald Trump did everything it would have taken before 2016 to lose a national election. Under the old, apparently not well-established rules, principle, or standards, who could have dissed a POW, mocked disabled people, uttered crude words when speaking of more than half of the voters, thrown sand in the eyes of the leaders of the candidate’s own party, gotten into a “food fight” with a Gold Star family, suggested the election could only be legitimate if he won, and marginalized every minority group in America and still be elected to the highest office in the land?
There is a certain poetic symmetry in listening to the man who proudly broke all the rules in his drive to power complain about the way in which those who are on the streets protesting his election are breaking all the rules.
I’m teaching Rhyland, my six-year-old grandson how to play chess. He is catching on and playing well for a six-year-old. But when it starts to become clear that he might not win a round, he tries to change the rules. Suddenly, he’d like his pawns to move in any directions, the King to be able to move like a knight, or for a rook to move diagonally.
At times, I give him a break and ignore a chance to put his king in check, but I don’t allow him to change the rules of the game. If I let him establish new rules, he might think he can do so whatever the game. Later, when he tried to play with other children his age and tries to change the rules, they’d call him on it. They might not even want to play with him anymore.
The question about whether the election is legitimate isn’t a matter of whether Donald Trump campaigned using “established rules, principle, or standards.” In our system, the voters decide that. He may have lost the popular vote but he won enough electoral votes that he will become President of the United States on January 20, 2017.
That’s when the old definition of legitimacy will apply whether Donald Trump likes it or not. Once in the Oval Office, this man who reveled in breaking the old rules will find a set of established rules, principle, or standards that are no longer in his control. He is now dealing with powerful national and international institutions that have the ability to exact a consequence from those who ignore the old rules.
Civil rights, environmental, and human rights lawyers play by old rules. Those rules are in writing. Courts live by them. Despite political claims to the contrary, the national and international economies have a set of well-established rules. Our international adversaries like Putin, ISIS, and others will soon challenge a President Trump, using their own set of rules.
A Tweet doesn’t change the rules that determine the legitimacy of a Presidency.