Blow and Krugman

Mr. Blow has a question in “Clinton’s Question of Illegitimacy:”  Why is the election “rigged” at the very moment that a woman is on the verge of victory?  Oh, Charles — if you thought the racism of the last 8 years has been fun, just WAIT until you see the sexism to follow.  In “It’s Trump’s Party” Prof. Krugman says don’t let anyone pretend otherwise.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

President Obama is fond of saying that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever seek the presidency. And, if current polls are correct and prove resilient, she will be one of the most qualified people to be elected and ascend to that office.

But one of the great ironies of this election is that America’s first female president may be viewed by many as the country’s most invalid president, hanging under the specter of suspicion, mistrust and illegitimacy.

This is partly because her opponents all along the way have complained that the system — from the media to the electoral apparatus — was “rigged” and unfairly tilted in her favor, and it’s partly because of unflattering bits of information that have come to light from an illegal hack.

During the primaries, Bernie Sanders (who now supports Clinton) made very clear that he thought that both the media and the Democratic Party itself had not been fair to him. As he put it, “We knew we were taking on the establishment.”

This became a motif of his revolution, and a force corrosive to voters’ confidence in the primary process. A March Pew report found a striking decline in Democrats’ trust in their nominating process:

“Democrats and Republicans differ on whether the presidential primaries are a good way of determining the best-qualified nominees. Currently, 42 percent of Republican voters have a positive view of the primary process, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. The share of Democrats expressing a positive view of the primary process has declined 22 percentage points,” from 52 percent in February 2008. “Republicans’ views are little different than in 2000 or 2008.”

In early May, Sanders said at a rally:

“When we talk about a rigged system, it’s also important to understand how the Democratic Convention works. We have won, at this point, 45 percent of pledged delegates, but we have only earned 7 percent of superdelegates.”

In late May, Sanders reversed course on the system being “rigged” on “Face the Nation,” saying:

“What has upset me, and what I think is — I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the words were — but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York State, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have a situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.

Blogs like Vox and FiveThirtyEight tried to debunk the rigging claims, saying essentially that while some rules worked against Sanders, others worked in his favor, and in the end he simply lost because he got fewer votes. But still, the “rigged” idea stuck.

This idea was buttressed by WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails that showed that some in the Democratic National Committee displayed an open disdain for Sanders and, as The New York Times reported, “showed party officials conspiring to sabotage” his campaign.

Whereas the foundation of Sanders’s objections were at least based on real issues, even though many were by no means new to this cycle, Donald Trump’s sermonizing about rigging is constructed of wild conspiracy and conjecture.

Trump has been on a tear for weeks about the general election being “rigged,” and apparently that message is sinking in among a large portion of his supporters, just as it sank in among a large portion of Democratic primary voters.

An NBC/SurveyMonkey poll released Friday found that 45 percent of Republicans definitely wouldn’t or were unlikely to accept the result of the election if their candidate lost, compared to 30 percent of Independents and 16 percent of Democrats who felt the same.

At this point, it’s not even clear if Trump would graciously concede if he lost. Indeed, grace may be beyond his grasp.

And while there are signs that Clinton is narrowing the enthusiasm gap with Trump, my sense is that Clinton’s current success is as much a repudiation of Trump’s abhorrence as it is an embrace of Clinton. It feels to me more like exhaustion than exhilaration.

We could be on the verge of something historic. So, why does it feel so much like acquiescence? Why aren’t more people rushing to the polls to vote for this immensely qualified woman rather than rushing to vote against this woefully unqualified man? One of the reasons is that her male opponents have successfully cast the race she may win as rigged.

I think it’s fair to say our electoral processes aren’t perfect. But they’ve never been. Nor has any candidate been perfect. So why must those imperfections be nullifying at the very moment that a woman is on the verge of victory? Clinton is a woman beating men at their own game. Deal with it.

Still, this all means that a potential Hillary Clinton administration could commence under a cloud and against a chill wind. It could be a first, but one met with a frost. Revolutionary acts come at a cost.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

The presidential campaign is entering its final weeks, and unless the polls are completely off, Donald Trump has very little chance of winning — only 7 percent, according to the Times’s Upshot model. Meanwhile, the candidate continues to say disgusting things, and analysts are asking whether down-ballot Republicans will finally repudiate their party’s nominee.

The answer should be, who cares? Everyone who endorsed Mr. Trump in the past owns him now; it’s far too late to get a refund. And voters should realize that voting for any Trump endorser is, in effect, a vote for Trumpism, whatever happens at the top of the ticket.

First of all, nobody who was paying attention can honestly claim to have learned anything new about Mr. Trump in the last few weeks. It was obvious from the beginning that he was a “con artist” — so declared Marco Rubio, who has nonetheless endorsed his candidacy. His racism and sexism were apparent from the beginning of his campaign; his vindictiveness and lack of self-discipline were on full display in his tirades against Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Khizr Khan.

So any politicians who try after the election to distance themselves from the Trump phenomenon — or even unendorse in these remaining few days — have already failed the character test. They knew who he was all along, they knew that this was a man who should never, ever hold any kind of responsible position, let alone become president. Yet they refused to speak out against his candidacy as long as he had a chance of winning — that is, they supported him when it mattered, and only distanced themselves when it didn’t. That’s a huge moral failure, and deserves to be remembered as such.

Of course, we know why the great majority of Republican politicians supported Mr. Trump despite his evident awfulness: They feared retribution from the party’s base if they didn’t. But that’s not an excuse. On the contrary, it’s reason to trust these people even less. We already know that they lack any moral backbone, that they will do whatever it takes to guarantee their own political survival.

And what this means in practice is that they will remain Trumpists after the election, even if the Orange One himself vanishes from the scene.

After all, what we learned during the Republican primary was that the party’s base doesn’t care at all about what the party establishment says: Jeb Bush (remember him?), the initial insider choice, got nowhere despite a giant war chest, and Mr. Rubio, who succeeded him as the establishment favorite, did hardly better. Nor does the base care at all about supposed conservative principles like small government.

What Republican voters wanted, instead, were candidates who channeled their anger and fear, who demonized nonwhites and played into dark conspiracy theories. (Even establishment candidates did that — never forget that Mr. Rubio accused President Obama of deliberately hurting America.)

Just in case you had any doubts about that political reality, a Bloomberg poll recently asked Republicans whose view better matched their own view of what the party should stand for: Paul Ryan or Donald Trump. The answer was Mr. Trump, by a wide margin.

This lesson hasn’t been lost on Republican politicians. Even if Mr. Trump loses bigly, they’ll know that their personal fortunes will depend on maintaining an essentially Trumpist line. Otherwise they will face serious primary challenges and/or be at risk of losing future elections when base voters stay home.

So you can ignore all the efforts to portray Mr. Trump as a deviation from the G.O.P.’s true path: Trumpism is what the party is all about. Maybe they’ll find future standard-bearers with better impulse control and fewer personal skeletons in their closets, but the underlying nastiness is now part of Republican DNA.

And the immediate consequences will be very ugly. Assuming that Hillary Clinton wins, she will face an opposing party that demonizes her and denies her legitimacy no matter how large her margin of victory. It may be hard to think of any way Republicans could be even more obstructionist and destructive than they were during the Obama years, but they’ll find a way, believe me.

In fact, it’s likely to be so bad that America’s governability may hang in the balance. A Democratic recapture of the Senate would be a very big deal, but they are unlikely to take the House, thanks to the clustering of their voters. So how will basic business like budgeting get done? Some observers are already speculating about a regime in which the House is effectively run by Democrats in cooperation with a small rump of rational Republicans. Let’s hope so — but it’s no way to manage a great nation.

Still, it’s hard to see an alternative. For the modern G.O.P. is Mr. Trump’s party, with or without the man himself.

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