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the election

Why Donald Trump’s “rigged election” comment goes right to the heart of our democracy

By guest columnist Al Rodbell

When Donald J. Trump made this comment, it was aimed at his largest demographic, those who need constant feeding of their inchoate contempt for this country. Trump is the man who persisted in asserting that President Obama was born in Kenya long after almost all considered it insane; but not all, not those who consume illusions of vast, complex conspiracies because they are inherently un-falsifiable. Certainly, Obama's mother could have inserted the birth announcement in the local Honolulu newspaper as part of the plan that he would run for president four decades later. It is absurd, but not impossible, and those that buy into it have the satisfaction of being in on something that very few grasp.

Here are his words: "I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, to be honest," And later, when asked about it, he gave an example of a previous election where, "you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican". He added, "I hope the Republicans get out there and watch very closely" during Election Day.

This is the single most damaging example of Trump's propensity to find a nugget of truth and then send it out to the world. This spontaneity in his utterances betrays his uncaring ignorance of the context or interpretation of what he is saying. This man who has risen to be one of two people who will be elevated to the apex of national government authority, one who will swear to "preserve and protect" the nation's laws — from federal statutes

to our Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court — chooses to cast doubt on the essence of choosing the individual to hold this awesome power. "Rigged" is a word that for him means a conspiratorial illusion just like global warming, evolution, and the birthplace of the current president.

He closes with the suggestion that Republicans pay attention that there is no cheating, as if without his urging they would not think to do this. What this reflects is his rarely or never having gone to a polling place to cast a vote. Each of the thousands of them are outposts of our secular ethos which inherently means that there will be members of both parties challenging the legitimacy of every single vote and following the elaborate laws of their state to prevent what he "is afraid will happen".

I know a bit about polling from my run for the nomination for N.Y. State Representative in 1993, when my name was on a printed sheet that could only be produced by one company where I had once worked. Each group of voting booths had a different list and they even randomized the order of names within them to negate top of the list advantage, meaning these had the world's shortest press run, as low as a few copies due to non-overlapping districts and multiple levels of government. It kept alive a typesetting technology from the nineteenth century called a Ludlow machine, soon to be made obsolete by large size computer graphic printers. As a candidate I had the right to personally inspect each machine, and to inspect the mechanism, to verify that a pull of the lever went to the correct counter. For those who know the term "steampunk" this was the real thing, not much different than that of the original invention in 1881.

"Rigged" — by whom? Trump, as is his ingrained wont, has not taken the effort to understand how the polls in the state of Ohio actually operate, what procedures have been implemented to ensure that each vote is counted, and that it is as accurate and uncorrupted as humanly possible. He has not taken the time to learn of the severe penalties in Ohio, and every other state, for tampering with the results of a governmental election. Why understand a body of laws, and the technology and procedures that accompany them, when in a second you can create out of thin air the myth that elections, the solemn rite of a democracy is something other than the effort to refine and protect the sacredness of a citizen's vote.

Suffrage, the right to vote, is something various groups have fought and died for; even though the process can never be perfect and there are stolen elections in spite of the ongoing effort to limit such criminal acts. Trump's casual expression that he expects this to happen, without his doing a thing to understand the process in order to limit such vulnerability is what he is, which is why so many from both parties find him to be uniquely contemptible.

                       Al's other essays can be found at AlRodbell.com.

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