There’s a multi-decade history of Republican presidents (and others) breaking the law and getting away with it. And that history has gotten us to where we are today. The past, it turns out, actually is prolog.
[If you don’t care about the history, just scroll down to the end. But I think knowing how we got here is important to understanding how we get the fuck out of here.]
We could go back to when Jerry Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes. “Time to move on,” we were told and, honestly, at the time, naif that I was, I could see the point. And, surely, being forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment was enough of a warning to future presidents who might imagine that they were above the law. Right?
Or, we could go back to Ronald Reagan who committed a number of crimes and then was allowed to quietly retire to his ranch where Secret Service agents kept spreading around dead leaves for him to rake. Well, the poor man had never been right after John Hinkley shot him and, as his performance made clear, his brain was riddled with Alzheimer’s. What point would there have been in prosecuting him? Better to be generous. Right?
George H.W. Bush (Bush I) committed war crimes, but, well, hell, he got thrown out after one term and it would have looked petty for the Clinton administration to have gone after him. Right?
Of course, Republicans didn’t worry about looking petty when they impeached and almost removed Bill Clinton from office simply because Bill Clinton told a rather technical lie about an extra-marital affair. And, even once he was out of office, the Republicans kept after him, screaming about some of the people that he pardoned and lying that he took items from the White House and vandalized White House equipment. If he so much as said hello to a friend, they screamed that he’d broken the law. And we know that they’ve made a multi-year campaign of investigating every email that Hillary Clinton ever sent. Trump is STILL demanding that the Dept. of Justice go after her so he can stand before his Nuremberg-style rallies and gloat the he did “LOCK HER UP!”
This point is important. When the shoe is on the other foot, Republicans aren’t worried about seeming indecorous or vindictive. They go after Democrats with everything they’ve got.
Then came George W. Bush (W or Bush II). With Haliburton (maker of voting machines) in his pocket, his brother’s position as governor of the swing state of Florida, several traitors on the Supreme Court, and his daddy’s years as Director of the CIA — not to mention the Brooks Brothers rioters — W stole Florida. If you remember those days, you can’t get over how shocking it all was. But moving on was important. Right?
The real mistake was made on election night when Al Gore, probably wanting to look fair and reasonable, conceded to W after the networks (and that was dodgy, too) called Florida for W. A bit later, Gore realized his mistake and tried to take it back, but centuries of the “playing fields of Eaton” made Americans more upset at Gore for being a “poor loser” than they were at W for cheating to win. Republicans showed up outside the Vice Presidential mansion and chanted for Gore to get out of Dick Cheney’s house. “Get over it!” became the answer to any Democratic concerns with how the election had been handled. And then Bush I’s appointment, Clarence Thomas, and other Republican appointments to SCOTUS (I will never forgive Sandra Day O’Connor), delivered the coup de gras. The only people left to cry out for due process and to protest the destruction of our election system were the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, begging the very person least able to help them — Al Gore — to block W’s assent to power.
And, yes, I get it. Gore likely believed that he had been cheated but that he was making some kind of supreme sacrifice on the altar of peaceful transfer of power or whatever. His advisors were likely telling him that if he wanted a political future (in the end, he never got one) he needed to “respect the process” (in a way the Republicans don’t) and concede. And, so, he did. And, so, W, who had long planned to be a “war president” so that he could get his agenda of tax cuts and revoked consumer protections, waltzed into the White House and dragged the U.S. into unending war.
When W ran the second time, the race came down to Ohio, where Haliburton owned the voting machines. In that campaign, the Republicans “swift boated” John Kerry, a decorated war hero. Again, the Democrats would never have dared to question the service of a Republican veteran (if there were any Republicans who’d actually served), but the Republicans never worried about attacking Kerry and, indeed, the press rewarded them by amplyfing the swift boat lies. No one, to this day, has made the Republicans pay for “disrespecting” Kerry’s service. No one has made them the anti-patriotism party. Veterans and service members continue to vote Republican,
People forget this, but, at the last minute, Kerry sought donations to pay for “planes full of lawyers” to fly wherever needed on election night to contest dodgy results. (I do remember, because I donated quite a bit in response to that request from Kerry. Well, it was paper before and it was paper afterwards, I guess. But women and elephants never forget and, no, I don’t have fond thoughts for John Kerry or John Edwards.) The results from Ohio were seriously dodgy, but Kerry quietly conceded. (I’ve long believed, based upon nothing more than my gut and an evidence of absence, which is not an absence of evidence, that they called Kerry into a back room and “showed him the instruments of torture,” (i.e., showed him the kompromat they had on him, or his wife, or his daughters.))
But the end result was that, once again, W stole an election and the Democrats went gently into that good night.
Obama, to his credit (and to the credit of Hillary Clinton who, once Obama won the nomination, gave him her enthusiastic and unqualified support — don’t @ at me, I was at her concession speech) won by too many votes for the Republicans to steal the election. But by then, the Republicans had learned the obvious lesson — if you CAN manage to steal the election, the Democrats will fold like wet cardboard.
And, then, of course, Putin and Trump’s stole the 2016 election, And, under pressure from Obama, Hillary conceded,
What’s interesting to me is that, prior to the election, the media kept asking Trump, as if it were an option available to him, whether he’d concede the election. Interestingly, that had never been asked of any other candidate, and, as noted, no one was asking Hillary if she’d concede the election if Trump won, despite huge evidence of voter suppression, Russian interference, and dodgy results in places such as Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. It’s apparently an open question as to whether Republicans, but not Democrats, will agree to abide by the results of our elections. The man gets asked if he’ll accept the results of the election, but it’s assumed that the woman will concede
Think about that for a bit.
And, sure enough, under pressure from Obama, Clinton showed up the next morning (criticized for waiting until then) and conceded the election to Trump despite the fact that there was, even then, massive evidence of vote tampering, voter suppression, hacking, etc.
We can’t keep doing this. Dems MUST start showing up and contesting every fishy election. What we taught the Republicans, over decades of allowing voter fraud, is that they will get away with it. Dems will cave in deference to “peaceful transfer,” or “looking like the adults,” or putting country over party. Fuck that shit.
There is NO reason why the results must be announced on election night. And given what we now know about Republican/Russian vote tampering, we simply can’t continue to concede elections.
I will donate to any Dem who agrees to contest stolen/hacked elections. You should, too. The days when we conceded for the “greater good” are over. If they want to go low, we will blow it all sky high.
Picture found here.