De-Le-Git-I-Mizing Trump: Hillary and the permanent campaign

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The media are reporting that the Hillary Clinton campaign is supporting calls by some members of the Electoral College for an intelligence briefing on President-elect Donald Trump’s ties with Russia ahead of their Dec. 19 vote.

Huh? The Clinton campaign still exists? Thirty six days after the presidential election?

Of course, because unlike with past presidential candidates, Clinton’s team see themselves as part of a permanent campaign to delegitimize the winner.

It began with the campaign’s support for the effort to discredit Trump’s win by echoing accusations that Trump wasn‘t the “real” winner because even though he won the electoral votes, Clinton won more actual votes

It continued with the campaign supporting the recount effort in three states by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. On Medium, the Clinton campaign’s counsel, Marc Elias, said that while the campaign wasn’t going to contest the results itself, it had decided to take part in the effort to “ensure that it is fair to all sides.” Oddly enough, in Wisconsin, the one state which completed its recount, Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton increased by 131 votes.

Clinton’s campaign kept up the barrage by endorsing calls by some electors for CIA briefings on Russia’s role in the election. On Dec. 12, 10 electors published a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asking for an intelligence briefing before their Dec. 19 vote.

John Podesta, chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, followed up with a statement saying, “The bipartisan electors’ letter raises very grave issues involving our national security,” Podesta said. “Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed.”

“We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American,” Podesta added, leaving out that there is no unanimity on this point among the government intelligence agencies. The FBI, for example, has suggested that the CIA’s assessment so far lacks definitive evidence.

Leftist New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has gone so far as to call the presidential election “illegitimate” and “tainted” by Russian interference and the actions of FBI Director James Comey.

“So this was a tainted election,” Krugman wrote on Dec. 12. “It was not, as far as we can tell, stolen in the sense that votes were counted wrong, and the result won’t be overturned. But the result was nonetheless illegitimate in important ways; the victor was rejected by the public, and won the Electoral College only thanks to foreign intervention and grotesquely inappropriate, partisan behavior on the part of domestic law enforcement.”

“Did the combination of Russian and F.B.I. intervention swing the election?,” Krugman aid. “Yes. Mrs. Clinton lost three states — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — by less than a percentage point, and Florida by only slightly more,” Krugman wrote.

“If she had won any three of those states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin/Comey made the difference?”

And if pigs could fly all would be well.

Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, D.C., have piled on, asserting in the Washington Post that Trump needs to create a blind trust for his assets in order to assure the electors that he won’t be violating the Constitution when he’s sworn in.

“Above all, Trump’s refusal to create a blind trust — and his procrastination in providing a credible plan to solve the constitutional issues his business plans pose — is not fair to the electors who must cast ballots on Dec. 19, before Trump’s “busy times” will allow him to explain his arrangements in January,” they wrote. “ “He needs to assure the electors now that his businesses will not receive payments from foreign governments. That is necessary so that both Trump and the electors can do their jobs as required under the Constitution.

It’s tempting to assume that the Clinton partisans are little more than a ship of fools bitter at the results of the presidential election, but more is at work here. The agitators are trying to delegitimize Trump from the outset, setting the stage for years of hard-edged conflict.

Buckle your seat belts, America.

Think third party: your vote will not be wasted

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It doesn’t have to be a choice between an evil queen and a bombastic clown, two toxic, fatally flawed candidates.

About two-thirds of prospective voters consider both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dishonest and untrustworthy. That’s millions of Americans who hold both candidates in high disregard, but appear ready to just hold their noses and vote for one of them, unwittingly helping to preserve the status quo. That’s insanity.

The idea that a third party candidate can’t win will then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But there is another option in this presidential race. Support, and then vote for, a candidate from another party, such as  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Your vote won’t be wasted and America will be the better for it.

As Eugene V. Debs, five-time presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America, observed, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”

The potential receptivity of Oregonians to a third party is reflected in the fact that about a third of Oregon’s three million registered voters don’t belong to the Democratic or Republican Party.

Some of that is surely a clear decision by voters refusing to align themselves with one of the major parties. Some may be tied to Oregon’s new policy of automatically registering voters when they visit a Department of Motor Vehicles. Under that process, voters are automatically registered as “unaffiliated” and later given the option of picking a party choice, but most do nothing.

Nationally, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center recently reported that the share of independents in the public, which long ago surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans, continues to increase. In a 2016 report, based on 2014 data, 39% identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling, according to Pew.

In a 2014 Gallup poll, 58 percent of U.S. adults also favored having a third party because the Republican and Democratic parties “do such a poor job” representing the American people. Only 35 percent said the two existing major parties do an adequate job of this.

Your willingness to express support for a third party candidate will have one immediate impact. In 2000, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private company, approved rules stipulating that, besides being on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority, debate participants must clear 15% in pre-debate opinion polls.

At a minimum, if you express your support for another party’s candidate, that person will have a better chance of joining the presidential debates, making Americans more aware of their positions and enhancing the possibility that they will emerge as a serious contender.

Don’t cop out by endorsing write-ins instead. If you agree that voting is about expressing a political preference, write-ins only signal a defection from the two-party system, not support for another person and agenda. Voting for a third party conveys endorsement of a recognizable set of principles, a public platform.

Even if your third party candidate doesn’t win, your vote will have an impact. Willie Sutton reputedly replied to a reporter’s inquiry as to why he robbed banks by saying “because that’s where the money is.” Politicians follow a similar principle. They go where the votes are. If voters reject the history, values and solutions of Clinton and Trump, other politicians will become more open to alternatives.

Americans will not be throwing away or wasting their votes by casting them for people and policies they support, rather than for the lesser of two evils.

As John Quincy Adams said, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

The only wasted vote is one that’s not cast at all.

(Postscript: The Chicago Tribune agrees: Editorial: Let Libertarian Gary Johnson debate Clinton and Trump, http://trib.in/2b6FGv4)