13 November 2016

Dear Trump voter worried about violent protests

For months, Donald Trump has been telling everyone that the election might be illegitimate, that it’s rigged, and that there is widespread fraud. He has said that the electoral college is a disaster, that the winner of the popular vote should be President.

Liberals said this talk was dangerous. They said that it was undermining confidence in the democratic process. They warned that it could lead to violence. Experts agreed, and election officials predicted violence.

Trump and his supporters didn’t care. In fact, they openly threatened violence. Trump said it was a problem that nobody wanted to hurt anybody anymore, and he offered to pay legal fees for people charged with assault. He called for voter intimidation on election day, and said he’d like to punch protesters in the face. Republicans said blood may be shed come election day, that there could be an “American Spring”. Trump supporters called for armed insurrection, mobs with pitchforks and torches, said they’d grab their muskets, said there would be mass marches on Washington DC, predicted a bloodbath.

Trump supporter

Trump didn’t condemn any of it; he even hinted that perhaps some “second amendment people” might do something if the election result wasn’t to their liking.

Liberals condemned talk that questioned the legitimacy of the election. They said that calls for violence after the election were unacceptable and destabilizing, that we should unite to ensure that the election was a peaceful event.

Rigged

You didn’t listen. You supported Trump. When he said he might not accept the result of the election, when he condoned violence and said the election wasn’t legitimate, you voted for him.

Refusal

Yet now that Trump has won the election and people have decided that the election isn’t legitimate and that they should respond with violence, you clutch your pearls and feign shock. Well, aren’t you quite the two-faced hypocrite?

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “Those liberals — they were only pretending to be against violence because they thought Hillary would win.” Well, no, even after the election Democrats have been calling for peaceful transfer of power. As Hillary Clinton put it:

…peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who is in charge.

Note that — no matter who is in charge. And yes, she called for peaceful transfer of power after the election too.

I believe that rioting is wrong. I’ve always believed that, whether I was protesting the UK Poll Tax or the US invasion of Iraq. Unlike Trump, I believe in the legitimacy of the democratic process.

I’m not even a Hillary supporter — during the primaries I was describing her as the worst possible candidate, a living embodiment of neoliberalism and the political establishment, everything that people hate. I’m not a Democrat either — I voted for people from every party on my ballot, including some Republicans.

What I believe in is democracy. So while you were sitting on your fat ass watching Fox News, I was working a 16 hour day at the polls. I took a vacation day to do so, because I wanted to make sure I had done absolutely everything in my power to ensure that the election was carried out in a fair and democratic manner. Nobody was to be threatened or intimidated, nobody was to be unfairly influenced. (I even taped over the Bernie sticker on my car.) I ran around checking IDs, filling out paperwork, and doing my best to follow election law to the letter — even when that meant turning people away or telling them they had to go get a particular form of ID. As the first election results were coming in, I was sitting in a car in the pouring rain waiting to deliver a sealed voting machine full of fairly-collected ballots.

As far as I know, there was no significant electoral fraud — just a couple of isolated incidents. In fact, as far as I know the evidence suggests that there has never been any significant amount of in-person electoral fraud in recent decades.

So yes, Donald Trump won the election, fair and square.

I also disagree with people who want to petition the electoral college voters to ignore the public vote and refuse to elect Trump. Even if the Founding Fathers intended the electoral college to block totally unsuitable Presidents, that’s not how the system has worked in the last hundred years, and attempting to subvert the electoral process through the electoral college will just make things worse and lead to even more violence.

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that some Clinton supporters are now agreeing with Trump that the election must have been rigged because they don’t like the result. That’s why some of those people are rioting, and that’s why Trump shouldn’t have casually claimed that the election was going to be rigged.

So that’s my position. Which means no, you don’t get to lecture me on the sanctity of the democratic process. I actually support the democratic process, and voted for someone who has consistently spoken out against post-election protests and riots. You, on the other hand, voted for a candidate who said the election wasn’t legitimate and that violence was an acceptable response. Well, here’s your violence, now you get to shut the fuck up and enjoy it. And then, perhaps, you can apologize.

© mathew 2017