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O Ye Men Of Intemperate Minds

Some further thoughts on last night.

I really can’t understand the lack of alarm on the part of so many of my fellow conservatives over Donald Trump’s refusal in advance to confirm that he will accept the results of the election.

“But what about Al Gore?” you say. “He contested the results of the 2000 election.” Yes, he did, and he was right to do so — and so would Trump be in those circumstances.

Gore won the popular vote, and the presidency depended on the integrity of the results in South Florida. The US Supreme Court made its decision, ultimately. I don’t recall that I had much good to say about Al Gore, ever, but his decision to accept the Court’s verdict as final was an act of selflessness and patriotism. Many of his supporters believe the Court’s call was nakedly political, and unjust. It may have been, but that’s beside the point. The important thing is that whatever his belief in his heart, Gore affirmed that in our system, the Supreme Court has the final say – and in so doing, affirmed our system.

What if Gore had spent 2001 gallivanting around the country rousing angry liberal audiences against the government, saying he had been cheated, and so had they? What kind of condition would the nation have been to meet the challenges ahead on 9/11? Had Gore done that, he would have had a far stronger case than Donald Trump can possibly have, given that he, Gore, won the popular vote.

But he didn’t do that. He accepted a loss he surely believed was unjust for the sake of the good of the country.

Donald Trump is going to lose on November 8, and he is going to lose badly. He is going to be soundly beaten by a terrible Democratic nominee, a woman who is unliked, tainted by corruption, and the most divisive figure in public life other than … Donald Trump. I believe it is true that the Democrats are capable of engaging in voter fraud, and I take it as given that somewhere in America on election day, it will happen.


If the current polls hold up (Clinton ahead by seven points), the scale of Trump’s loss will far exceed anything that could be credibly attributed to fraud or any other kind of “rigging.” It is extremely reckless for Trump to be seeding the nation with doubt about the validity and legitimacy of the election. The only reason he’s doing it is to protect his own vanity when he is walloped, and walloped by a woman at that – and not only walloped by a woman, but walloped by Hillary Clinton, who would have been a pushover for any other GOP contender.

The Republican establishment has to realize that Trump didn’t rig or otherwise steal the party’s nomination: he won it fair and square, and he won it mostly because the party establishment itself fell badly out of touch with the mood of the country and its voters. You don’t have a fool like Trump defeating what was once touted as the deepest GOP candidate bench in history if Trump didn’t know something that that allegedly deep bench did not.

And yet, Trump has blown this race entirely on his own. In truth, he never really stood a chance, because the only way he was going to win it was to pivot towards being someone he’s not. No 70-year-old man is going to be able to do that, especially given that he has made his public reputation by saying outrageous things on camera. We all know Trump’s many weaknesses, so I won’t rehearse them again here. The point to be made, though, is that Trump gave Americans who might have been persuaded to vote for him 1,001 reasons not to. Hell, he rubbed the nation’s face in them.

For me, it has always been a matter of character with Trump. I know what Hillary Clinton is about, what she stands for, and what she will do in office. I dread it and reject it strongly. I think she and her husband are grifters. I believe that Project Veritas has credibly demonstrated [1] that there are elements within the Democratic Party machine willing to engage in Saul Alinsky-type provocations, and even voter fraud. I concede that the national media are reflexively biased against the Republican nominee, no matter who it is.

And yet, we still have no reason at this point to think that Trump will be denied the presidency because the election was “rigged.” 

Apply Occam’s Razor to this situation. Donald Trump represents a sharp deviation from the Republican norm in terms of his policies. Hey, that’s what a lot of people like about him! It’s why I have been somewhat sympathetic to him for most of this year, and if not #NeverTrump, then anti-anti-Trump in my convictions. But there was always going to be no small number of Republicans who found him hard to take.

Then there was his shrill, bombastic rhetoric, his many lies and self-contradictions, the many reports of his shafting people he’s done business with, his recklessness, his self-absorption, his abrasive and thin-skinned temperament. Even if you sympathize with the guy, he specializes in making it hard to vote for him. And this was before he was caught on tape bragging about forcing himself sexually on women.

Yes, the undeniable awfulness of Hillary Clinton covers a multitude of sins in any Republican nominee, but I fear more for my country under a Trump presidency than a Clinton one, precisely because of his unhinged personality. I have no idea what he would do with power, and what kind of constitutional crisis he would provoke, but I am very confident he would provoke one. Hillary is a hawk, for sure, but how can anybody believe Trump would be a more sober, restrained steward of foreign policy?

Look, maybe I’m wrong about him. But you’ve got to concede that Trump himself has given voters, especially women voters, ample reason to reject him. That’s not the result of conspiracies. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with that man.

Trump’s behavior reminds me of my own when I was a little kid, and would run foot races with my little sister. She was two years younger than I, but a really good athlete. I couldn’t stand the prospect of being beaten by her. She was a girl, after all, and she was younger than I was. Sometimes, my ego would be so great that as we approached the finish line, and I could see she was going to win, I deliberately fell, and claimed that I had tripped. Anything to deny her the satisfaction of knowing she beat me.

It was cheap and revealed a lack of character, but I did it. I was nine. Trump is 70.

If, by some unforeseen circumstance, Trump’s vote comes close to Hillary Clinton and/or there is clear evidence of significant voter fraud, I hope he will challenge the results. But if the Clinton victory is upheld by the Supreme Court, do you think he will accept it? No, he won’t! He will tour the country complaining about how the corrupt system robbed him, and trying to whip up people to rebel against the system.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I do believe that our system is in serious trouble. Jim Rutenberg of the NYT and I talked briefly the other day about Trump’s claim that the election is being “rigged” by the media. [2] Excerpt:

It was as tense as anyone had seen it since the candidacy of George Wallace, and yet it was almost understandable given what Mr. Trump had been telling them: The news media was trying to “poison the minds” of voters with “lies, lies, lies.” All of it, he said, is part of a “conspiracy against you, the American people” that also includes “global financial interests.”

The idea that the press is part of some grand conspiracy against the people, presented in such incendiary terms, goes well beyond the longstanding Republican complaints about liberal bias. You’d more expect to hear it from Lenin or the pages of the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press than from the standard-bearer of the Republican Party.

But it is resonating with a large portion of the American electorate. There are many reasons, some of which should cause the news media to make good on its promises to examine its own disconnect from the cross section of Americans whose support for Mr. Trump it never saw coming.


There also tends to be a shared sense of noble mission across the news media that can preclude journalists from questioning their own potential biases.

“The people who run American journalism, and who staff the newsrooms, think of themselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and, culturally speaking, on the right side of history,” Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative, told me. “They don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t care to know it.”

Mr. Dreher lives in Louisiana and has worked at five major city newspapers across the country. He does not support Mr. Trump but says he understands why his supporters are so frustrated. As far as he’s concerned, mainstream journalists are “interested in every kind of diversity, except the kind that would challenge their own prejudices.” Those include, “bigotry against conservative religion, bigotry against rural folks and bigotry against working-class and poor white people.”

To be perfectly clear, it’s obvious to me that Trump is trying to deflect criticism of his own flaws and failings by scapegoating the media in classic demagogic fashion. That said, it’s important to think about why this attack by Trump works so well with so many people. As I indicated with Rutenberg, it’s because the kind of people to whom Trump is speaking know perfectly well that the media really are biased against their point of view in most cases. They’re being manipulated by Trump here, but for the reasons I gave to Rutenberg, they have brought a lot of this mistrust and loathing onto themselves. And not only the media, but most institutions of American life.

I have been going on for a while about this thing I call the Benedict Option, not because I think the system is so corrupt that it’s impossible for honest Christians to live in it, but because I believe that our culture itself has moved so far away from Christianity that the faith is in danger of disappearing via total assimilation (more on which in another post). That is the most important thing to me, and it ought to be the most important thing to all serious Christians, not the preservation of liberal democracy. I think a Trump presidency would greatly accelerate the break-up of the culture and the country, but I think another Clinton presidency will do the same, only on a slower basis. Maybe it’s inevitable. The only reason I can see choosing Trump over Hillary is the possibility that he will appoint Supreme Court justices that will protect religious liberty, and generally make better decisions. If I thought Trump had anything remotely like a sound character, I could convince myself to vote for him. But he doesn’t, and he’s a dangerous crank. For example, only a dangerous crank would be running around the country a month before the election telling everyone that the outcome, if it goes against him, will have been fraudulent.

I’ll leave this topic alone. I want to say, though, that conservatives had better be very careful about how far we go in kicking the foundations out from under our form of government. Yeah, yeah, I’m one to talk, with my growing doubts about liberal democracy. If we are going to fathom changing the constitutional order, it had better come about slowly and deliberately, not because some demagogue went out into the fields ranting and firing up people’s passions. The Republican Party establishment is partly responsible for Trump because it would not change to accommodate new realities. That’s on them.

The Democratic Party, and liberals more generally, is partly responsible for Trump because they have long embraced identity politics, in particular racial grievance politics, and are somehow shocked when it’s turned back on them. Liberal college administrators don’t have the courage to stand up to racialized mobs trampling on the normal modes of liberal democratic discourse. The Democrats are going to get their own Trump one of these days. Again, though, that’s on them.

But it’s on us, the conservatives, to respond with gravity, steadiness, and restraint to this crisis in front of us, and not to yield to our passions and go the way of the mob. It’s hard. I know it’s hard. Lots of times I too want to kick the damn thing over. But once we smash it up, then what? Trump is playing a very dangerous game here.

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote Edmund Burke. “Their passions forge their fetters.” Think about it. If you don’t think things could get any worse, you have no imagination. Now is not the time for panic. We are going to have to keep our heads for the next four years, if not longer.


95 Comments (Open | Close)

95 Comments To "O Ye Men Of Intemperate Minds"

#1 Comment By Chris 1 On October 20, 2016 @ 4:49 pm

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote Edmund Burke. “Their passions forge their fetters.”

That is a great quote.

Trump reminds me of the character Charles Croker in Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. He knows he’s flailing, and his “plan” seems to be to create an aggrieved audience for his next media venture…watch for the return of Roger Ailes.

#2 Comment By Mary On October 20, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

I just don’t understand you Rod. One minute you post an article about your anti-Americanism and how you believe America is both 1. collapsing and 2. at odds with your religion. The next minute you publish an article like this about how anyone that wants to take drastic action is crazy…there is a clear tension here.

In reality you are just sort of a bookish man, and I don’t mean that as an insult necessarily. You care about respectability and your own personality is not one of action, so you recoil from those who seek drastic change with horror. Tough, it’s time to accept that stay the course stopped being an option a long time ago. Partially, I might add, as a result of the respectability politics you often champion.

[NFR: There are some left-wing revolutionary types who want to take “drastic action” too. “Drastic action” is not self-justifying. One form of “drastic action” is focusing on building resilient orthodox Christian communities, institutions, practices, and catechesis for the long run. Another form is burning the whole system down. I would happily vote for someone who believes many of the things that Trump does. Trump’s personality and lack of character is the problem. — RD]

#3 Comment By Liam On October 20, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

Senator Sanders was not undermined by the WAPO or NYT nearly as much by his own failure to persuade enough African-American primary voters to choose him over HRC. That was a well known fundamental vulnerability for him before 2016, and he never closed the deal. The media and superdelegates were not responsible for that.

(Note: I voted for neither Sanders nor HRC in the primaries.)

#4 Comment By Sheldon On October 20, 2016 @ 5:22 pm

“I believe it is true that the Democrats are capable of engaging in voter fraud, and I take it as given that somewhere in America on election day, it will happen.”

There are a number of problems with that astonishing claim. First and foremost, there is absolutely no evidence to back it up. None. The evidence we do have strongly suggests that voter fraud does not occur on any significant scale. Second, the statement clearly implies that Democrats are nefarious, or certainly nefarious in comparison to their Republican counterparts. Again, an astonishing and even laughable claim, for which there is zero evidence. Third, the election apparatus in this country is controlled by the states, and the majority of state governorships and legislatures are dominated by Republicans. Why Democrats are being singled out here in this way is beyond me, except as an example of a churlish and pissy dislike of the other party. All that aside, there’s no comparison between minor voting irregularities, which may or may not exist, and which may or may not be practiced by both parties equally, and the efforts by Republican governors to disenfranchise Democratic voters in the hundreds of thousands by setting up artificial barriers to voting. Some of these have been not only overtly political but blatantly racist as well, as all recent court cases have found. Please consider that reality, instead of hypotheticals, before assigning moral inferiority to Democrats. Plank vs. mote indeed.

#5 Comment By Tiber On October 20, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

What kind of policy does he actually have though? The man says one thing today, then tomorrow says something completely different, then the day after that denies that he ever contradicted himself and goes on to say something new. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Democrat and don’t pretend to be unbiased (though I’m not happy about the prospect of voting for Hillary). Even so, the biggest issue I have with Trump is that he acts so mercurial and lies/panders to the crowd so often that I cannot trust anything that he says is actually his policy. While all politicians may lie, they’re usually at least consistent about it, enough to get a sense for their goals. With Trump, I don’t know he’ll actually do if elected beyond redecorate the oval office in the gaudiest way possible, and I don’t want surprises from the Commander in Chief of the largest army in the world.

#6 Comment By Nate On October 20, 2016 @ 5:25 pm

Rod, I’m a bit surprised you don’t see this one more clearly, as it would seem to be right up your wheelhouse. People aren’t bothered by Trump’s comments because in some way they actually agree with them, or at least the sentiment.

I am not a Trump supporter, fwiw, but I know a lot of them. And while I can’t support Trump because of his character, I still resonate with the “blow the system up” mentality of many of his supporters. I want better for this country, I really do. But so many of us have determined that if things are going to continue on their current trajectory, we and our families will be better of with a blown up system than an intact system that is ‘against’ us.

So why doesn’t it bother people when Trump says he won’t “accept the results of the election?” Because I’m at the point now where I don’t plan on accepting the results of many more elections. Why should I? As a conservative, small-o orthodox Christian, the government is largely against me and my family. Why should I accept anything from them if things don’t change. So while I don’t want to be associated with Trump, in some sense I’m cheering when he says he won’t accept Hillary Clinton. Neither will I.

I see headlines about Trump’s actions being a “threat to American Democracy.” Well news flash, for a growing but large minority – the working class poor and orthodox Christians, “American Democracy” is increasingly against them and their way of life. I want American Democracy to be threatened if this is what it’s going to be! I’m smart enough to know that I might not like what replaces it. But I’m mad enough to not really care.

I think the rifts of our society may be far deeper than you’ve even realized if you don’t get why so many like me aren’t bothered by Trump’s comments.

#7 Comment By Mike On October 20, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

Rod, have you considered writing a long post about the media itself? How is it that all of the major cable news sites and print media can cover a story almost the exact same way and that go unquestioned? You have 50 posters on this story alone with slightly different angles in each post. Are we being subjected to massive group think because of how every media outlet somehow always settles on almost the exact same narrative? After the Republican convention, how did almost every news site use the word dark to describe trumps speech?

This is beyond a slight media bias to the left. It’s so odd that the major news outlets almost always have the same narrative on any givendors story. There is almost no diversity of thought at all, just a single narrative. Thst can’t be organic. What is going on with that?

#8 Comment By Liam On October 20, 2016 @ 5:27 pm


“You care about respectability and your own personality is not one of action, so you recoil from those who seek drastic change with horror.”

Rod and I don’t see eye to eye on some (important) things, but I call bollocks on the claim that Rod seeks respectability.

Rod does inveigh against violent disorder, and in his case arises from virtue not vice.

He also has an appreciation of the consequences of the Fall on human judgment, and how people don’t appreciate how they get in their own way, as it were.

#9 Comment By JZ On October 20, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

Per usual Trump is onto something very important, if only by accident. The system IS corrupt. There is no doubt in my mind that the media, progressives, academia, globalists, Hollywood, many large corporations, etc conspire to manipulate the electorate. In some sense there’s no fine line between persuading and propaganda, but anytime private conversations are made public it’s plain to see it goes well beyond persuasion. Look at what the leaked Democratic emails about Catholics said. They are literally working to infiltrate pseudo-Catholic organizations for political purposes. Joe Scarborough, like many media types, loves to deflect media criticism by saying every media outlet has a point of view. Of course they do, they just happen to be 90% secular progressives. JournoList anybody? I could go on and on.

To be honest, it’s hard not desiring to burn the whole damn thing down. It’s a system that’s becoming useless or impossible to work with. I’ve never completely despaired politics before. I’ve always seen some way to at least improve things a little. Now, at the national level at least, I see nothing other than disaster A or disaster B.

My only (political) hope is that some clear thinking person will see and understand the issues Trump stumbled upon that have carried him this far and figure out how to build a new coalition around them. Hopefully Trump hasn’t completely poisoned the well…

#10 Comment By Johan On October 20, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote Edmund Burke. “Their passions forge their fetters.”

Yes. I’ve been thinking that if Conservatism Inc ever wants to reconnect with normal people, it needs to cast out the psychos and the hotheads, the way Buckley cast out the John Birch Society and the Randians and the others, in the 1960s. Intemperate behavior is a total turnoff for many people.

#11 Comment By KJ On October 20, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

…and the most divisive figure in public life other than … Donald Trump.”

As is the case with Obama, divisive largely because she has been deliberately portrayed that way for the last 25 years than because she has actually acted divisively.

#12 Comment By VikingLS On October 20, 2016 @ 6:06 pm

“I really can’t understand the lack of alarm on the part of so many of my fellow conservatives over Donald Trump’s refusal in advance to confirm that he will accept the results of the election.”

I don’t understand why you say you don’t understand why people disagree with you when they explain to you “this is why I disagree”.

I think I speak for a lot of us Rod when I tell you, I am interested in hearing your opinions, but I’m not just going to adopt them because they’re your opinions.

[NFR: Well, um, good, because you shouldn’t. Only adopt them if they make sense. — RD]

#13 Comment By VikingLS On October 20, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

To clarify that last line, I’m saying that I’m not going to try and bring my opinions in line with yours, even though I respect your work, not that I am going to reject your ideas because they’re your ideas.

#14 Comment By Tom S On October 20, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

Live by media attention, die by media attention.

#15 Comment By David Donnell On October 20, 2016 @ 6:51 pm

“Can we please talk about the policy differences among the two?”

Really? In Trump’s case we could talk for ever just about the “policy differences among the one”! Or if we go by days of the week, the policy differences among the seven.

#16 Comment By Hiro Protagonist On October 20, 2016 @ 6:57 pm



Between May 1999 and Election Day 2000, two Florida secretaries of state–Sandra Mortham and Katherine Harris, both protegees of Governor Jeb Bush–ordered 57,700 “exfelons,” who are prohibited from voting by state law, to be removed from voter rolls. (In the thirty-five states where former felons can vote, roughly 90 percent vote Democratic.) A portion of the list, which was compiled for Florida by DBT Online, can be seen for the first time here; DBT, a company now owned by ChoicePoint of Atlanta, was paid $ 4.3 million for its work, replacing a finn that charged $ 5,700 per year for the same service. If the hope was that DBT would enable Florida to exclude more voters, then the state appears to have spent its money wisely. Two of these “scrub lists,” as officials called them, were distributed to counties in the months before the election with orders to remove the voters named. Together the lists comprised nearly 1 percent of Florida’s electorate and nearly 3 percent of its African-American voters. Most of the voters (such as “David Butler,” a name that appears 77 times in Florida phone books) were selected because their name, gender, birthdate, and race matched–or nearly matched–one of the tens of millions of ex-felons in the United States. Neither DBT nor the state conducted any further research to verify the matches. DBT, which frequently is hired by the F.B.I. to conduct manhunts, originally proposed using address histories and financial records to confirm the names, but the state declined,the cross-checks. In Harris’s elections-office files, next to DBT’s sophisticated verification plan, there is a handwritten note: “DON’T NEED.”

At least 300 “felons” on these lists were convicted in the future, a fact that did not escape state elections workers, who, in June 2000 e-mails headed “Future Conviction Dates,” termed the discovery “bad news.” Rather than release such perplexing data to the counties, Janet Modrow, the state’s liaison to DBT, suggested that “blanks would be preferable in these cases.” (The future felonies I found on these lists may simply be those the state neglected to erase; 4,918 other names have blank conviction dates.) The one county that checked each of the 694 names on its local list could verify only thirty-four as former felons. Some counties defied Harris’s directive: Madison County elections supervisor Linda Howell refused the purge list after she found her own name on it.

Of the “matches” on these lists, the civil-rights commission estimated that at least 14 percent–or 8,000 voters, nearly 15 times Bush’s official margin of victory–were false. DBT claims it warned officials that “a significant number of people who were not a felon would be included on the list”; but the state, the company now says, “wanted there to be more names than were actually verified.” Last May, Florida’s legislature barred Harris from using outside firms to build the purge list and ordered her to seek guidance from county elections officials. In defiance, Harris has rebuffed the counties and hired another firm, just in time for Jeb Bush’s reelection fight this fall.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Jeb stole the Election for his brother. On the bright side Bush Jr did more than any Democrat ever could do destroy the Republican brand, so much so that the American Public elected an African-American, and from the looks of it, this caused the base of the Republican Party to lose it’s mind and nominate a Know Nothing Reality TV Star who looks like he’s about to lose this election and take a good chunk of the Party down with him and make the Supreme Court Liberal for the next 30 years.

The Republican Party (and the Country) would have been far better off having Gore in the White House.

The law of unintended consequences is a witch.

#17 Comment By grumpy realist On October 20, 2016 @ 6:57 pm

For those of you who want to “blow the whole system up” I repeat: you can’t control a revolution.

The attitude taken by Trump and his supporters is that of a spoiled child who, when losing a card game, kicks over the table and tears up the cards because he can’t take the psychic sting of losing.

#18 Comment By ludo On October 20, 2016 @ 7:06 pm

The argument is unconvincing, especially considering your reference to the NYT, the unofficial in-house periodical of the CIA/State Dept (vide: the history of their political coverage on Latin America–it might as well have been faxed to them straight from Langley). Also WikiLeaks blows the cover, once and far all, on the synergy (or embedding, etc) between the “Fourth Estate” and the Clinton estate/State Dept.

#19 Comment By David Donnell On October 20, 2016 @ 7:12 pm

“But I do believe that replacing one population with another in a short span of time will result in a different country. And I don’t want that.”

I’m sure the Native Americans didn’t want that either, but they got it anyway.

#20 Comment By Jeff Polet On October 20, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

Correction: according to the Constitution the Supreme Court does not have the final say on disputes for presidential elections. The Congress does. It may have been the prudent thing for Gore to accept the Court’s decision, but in so doing he legitimized the overreach of the Court in our system; which in the long run may have been his intention. Bush v. Gore was badly decided because the path to Congress should have been honored.

Also, count me as a conservative who is not worked up about Trump’s comment. Who cares what he thinks? If he incites his minions to violence, that’s a different story.

Finally, before reading this I was on a faculty panel and, coincidentally, used the same Burke quote. Great minds…

#21 Comment By Paddywagon On October 20, 2016 @ 7:43 pm

Gustogus says:
October 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

The Thomas More diatribe from A Man For All Seasons may be a bit overused, but it certainly seems pertinent here.

Its overuse might be due to the alarming pertinence of it in general these days. The American populace seems to be rapidly becoming in favor of the suspension of Rule of Law when it serves their benefit/beliefs—both on the Right or Left. I find it absolutely frightening.

#22 Comment By Ted On October 20, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

I completely agree with what you’re saying. However, our culture disdains things like honor and patriotism and lauds not standing for the national anthem, and denouncing America as the worlds great evil. Books like Zinn’s People’s History of the United States are taught. Why should we be surprised that someone puts self before the good of the country?

#23 Comment By GB On October 20, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

Does anyone out there really believe that the Project Veritas videos should be taken seriously?

If so, do you understand why they aren’t?

I mean, who cares if some hotheaded low-level party apparatchik encourages violence (or appears to — you can never be sure with an O’Keefe video)?

Really, it’s much sexier when the actual nominee does it. [4]

#24 Comment By Baron Harkonnen On October 20, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

I believe it is true that the Democrats are capable of engaging in voter fraud, and I take it as given that somewhere in America on election day, it will happen.

Whoah whoah whoah wait just a minute there. Citation needed. Why do you suppose that voter fraud would be in favor of democratic candidates? Have you ever been to a polling station? There’s tons of people overseeing them, it would take a spectacular conspiracy to pull anything off. And again, proof? Data? Not one or two guys here in there, but proof. The margins of victory are usually hundreds of thousands of votes even in swing states. 100,000.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 20, 2016 @ 9:14 pm

What would Burke think of Donald Trump? About the same as Burke thought of Robespierre. That’s a simple question.

Senator Sanders … failure to persuade enough African-American primary voters to choose him over HRC.

Barack Obama had a hard time with that initially. There were “black leadership” voices deriding him as only half-black, or not genuinely representative of the African American experience. There were plenty of voices patronizingly presuming to speak for “we in the black community” about how there would never be enough “white” voters who would support a “black” candidate, so they preferred to vote for someone friendly who could win, like Clinton. Of course, Barack Obama had two assets Bernie Sanders lacked: his color, and Michelle Obama.

(I did vote for Obama three times, and nobody would refer to me as “black.” In the 2012 primary, I voted for Ron Paul, knowing who the Democratic nominee would be, and thinking Paul the best the GOP had to offer. An Obama-Paul fusion ticket could have been might interesting, although it wasn’t in the cards at all.)

How? Well, getting registered to vote is as easy as marking “YES” to the question: “Are you a citizen of the United States?”

That question is answered under penalty of perjury. A lie may not be caught before the very next election, but it does generally get found out. Which is why only a few people really try it.

What Sanders also lacked was a program comprehensive enough and real enough to make coherent sense to a larger constituency. I’m glad to see that a good portion of the electorate is not afraid of the word “socialism,” but we need someone who understands Chris Hani’s speech to the South African Chamber of Commerce, focusing on how redistribution must not be the kind that kills the cow and distributes the carcass on a one time basis. Giving away free stuff is a short term strategy. In the end, we need to affirm that “Those who work will eat.”

#26 Comment By Armonde Delacroix On October 20, 2016 @ 9:20 pm

It wasn’t a shocking comment, stop with the pearl clutching.

What Trump meant was that IF there is no evidence of widespread corruption and voter fraud undermining the democratic principle of popular sovereignty, THEN he will concede (in the event that he loses). We have reason to believe that the Democrats are likely to engage in this sort of behavior, and if it is severe enough to compromise the integrity of the election, then not conceding the race is the moral and rational thing to do. No one can say for sure what is going to happen or how the election will be conducted, so it is reasonable to say that he will not concede under all foreseeable circumstances.

That was all he meant. There is nothing outlandish about saying that should ones opponents not play by the rules, you are not compelled to grant them the game.

This is such a non-story that media elites have seized upon, it’s embarrassing.

#27 Comment By Anonne On October 20, 2016 @ 9:21 pm

The Democratic Party, and liberals more generally, is partly responsible for Trump because they have long embraced identity politics, in particular racial grievance politics, and are somehow shocked when it’s turned back on them.

There it is, that cavalier dismissal of wide swaths of people’s concerns as “identity politics.” The ugly reality of American politics is that it is highly stratified by race, and although much has changed in the last century, a lot remains the same. A lot of bias exists, and the Democratic Party chose to address it. As a result, it is a large, inclusive party (though not without its own very deep flaws) that is growing.

That Republicans choose to play white identity politics is nothing new; the very fact that the issues around any minority community are called “identity politics” is precisely the strategy to make white people feel like everyone agrees with them and their norms, when they don’t necessarily do so. The practical effect is that white people’s views are seen as the default and correct position, and anything else should be pooh-poohed as insignificant and irrelevant.

What seems new is the boldness of the hatred that has come on display, as it hasn’t been openly displayed like this in a generation. As Chris Rock said, America has bred nicer white people in this generation. But in some locations, it would seem that he may have overstated the case.

#28 Comment By Thomas Kaempfen On October 20, 2016 @ 10:09 pm

Trump has amply demonstrated that the demands of his egregious ego always win out over the realities of electioneering. Consider the times when he continued to feud with sympathetic figures like Alicia Machado, Judge Curiel, the Khan family when he could have easily moved on and limited the damage. But he simply couldn’t control himself, even when doing so would have helped him win the election.

If he can’t be counted on to even fight in his own interests how can he counted on to fight for America’s?

#29 Comment By William Dalton On October 20, 2016 @ 10:41 pm

Rod, why do you think Trump is going to lose badly, if he loses? Is he falling behind among your neighbors in rural Louisiana? His yard signs still proliferate here in small city North Carolina. Nationwide I expect a close election. Your own David Franke projects Trump will take a popular majority but lose in the Electoral College, as did Al Gore. If Trump loses in a landslide there is no danger of Trump contesting the election was stolen by chicanery. The issue will arise only if, as in Gore’s case, the vote count is razor thin and there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of the vote count. As you remember, in 2000 the Supreme Court only cut short a process that was going to result in reaffirm Bush’s victory in Florida, and thus his hold upon a majority of the Electoral College. Even if, after the fact, Gore had complained about the decision of the Supreme Court, he would have had no ground to complain about the outcome.

This year, there will be no Supreme Court intervention in the post-Nov. 8 process – not with an eight member Court split evenly on partisan issues.

#30 Comment By AJ On October 20, 2016 @ 10:49 pm

Trump is extremely Immature, certainly. But read some tony Robbins or Norman Vincent Peale (trump’s old pastor) – It’s all just words/persuasion, /personality, NLP. how does someone “completely unhinged” put together so many business deals over decades? Your virtue signaling on this issue is tiresome. Takes lot of courage to hide out while waves of unassimilatable 3rd worlders flood the country , depress wages, and guarantee democratic rule for the foreseeable future. But at least you didn’t support a sexist.

#31 Comment By William Dalton On October 20, 2016 @ 11:14 pm

“Yes, the undeniable awfulness of Hillary Clinton covers a multitude of sins in any Republican nominee, but I fear more for my country under a Trump presidency than a Clinton one, precisely because of his unhinged personality. I have no idea what he would do with power, and what kind of constitutional crisis he would provoke, but I am very confident he would provoke one. Hillary is a hawk, for sure, but how can anybody believe Trump would be a more sober, restrained steward of foreign policy?”

This is what I said to myself after George W. Bush’s election in 2000. After voting for Pat Buchanan I consoled myself with the inevitable outcome of the election with the thought that, whatever the inexperienced younger President Bush would do, especially with old hands like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld at his side, he would not do anything disastrous. Nothing like get the United States into a foreign war that might imperil the country, even invite nuclear attack.

George W. Bush in 2000 did not give us nearly as many clues as to what he was capable of doing as Hillary Clinton has given us in 2016. Do you not read Daniel Larison’s daily blog on your own website? Why do you have any confidence Hillary Clinton is incapable of plunging us into a nuclear missile crisis, if not war, with Russia? In the Twentieth Century I would have agreed with you. Not since the dawn of the Twenty-First.

If you really think Donald Trump, who has spoken more against the Bush war policies than any other prominent Republican not named R. Paul, is more or even as great a danger as Hillary Clinton, don’t you owe it to your readership to encourage them to vote for Gary Johnson – the one man we can say with assurance is both qualified and prepared to discharge the duties of the office and is not a danger to take the country to war?

#32 Comment By Jonah R. On October 20, 2016 @ 11:32 pm

Bernie wrote: “I heard Trump say this today at a rally in Ohio: ‘America is a constitutional republic with a system of laws,” he said. “These laws are triggered in the case of fraud or in the event of a recount where it’s needed. Of course, I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.’”

Yes, he said this because last night, his professional handlers freaked out over the backlash to his unscripted comments and handed him some careful wording to read the next day. Trump supporters all want to believe the latest thing out of his gross orange face. Please stop trying to con the rest of us.

#33 Comment By Anne On October 20, 2016 @ 11:51 pm

Sanders himself wasn’t surprised to hear from those purloined DNC emails that party operatives wanted him stopped. Everybody knew they thought he’d be a weaker candidate than Clinton in the general election. But the truth is the superdelegate system was in place before this election year;they didn’t invent it just to subvert the Sanders campaign. Besides, HRC did win more primaries and more actual votes than he did. There was no way around that.

I WAS a Bernie supporter, but I know if he’d won the nomination, that “vast rightwing” arsenal that had been aimed at Clinton for decades would have been turned on a dime and trained on the white-haired populist from Vermont who’d suddenly be portrayed as a Castro-loving, anti-American fanatic from his New Left youth. Still, considering how much loved he’d already become among Millenials and how high his poll numbers got and seemed to stay, I’m not sure that would have actually worked. It definitely would have been interesting to see how far a real populist could go against one who just played one in this campaign.

#34 Comment By JonF On October 21, 2016 @ 5:56 am

Re: How? Well, getting registered to vote is as easy as marking “YES” to the question: “Are you a citizen of the United States?”

Every state is different on this. But when I moved to Maryland in 2008 as soon as I had a permanent address I registered online to vote. Since however I still had a Florida drivers license at that point, the register’s office sent back a request for my Social Security number so they could verify my identity through it. Also, due to the RealID Act of 2005 state DMVs do in fact know if you are a citizen or not so if your voters registration is validated through your license lies about your citizenship will be caught.

#35 Comment By Wes On October 21, 2016 @ 6:36 am


Since he entered the political area, I am not aware of Trump wavering on any of his big themes. Maybe you have in mind something I consider inconsequential or something I would consider ridiculous in which to rely on Presidential candidate – so simply didn’t pay attention.

I’ll happily reconsider my support for Trump if you can show me recent evidence that he secretly desires Liberal Justices, open borders, war with Russia, higher net taxes and more regulations. Not to mention he continues to lead a solid platform – anything he wants to do domestically must have GOP buy-in.

#36 Comment By cecelia On October 21, 2016 @ 7:58 am

logically – the idea that a US presidential election could be rigged is pure loony tunes. Elections are run by states – most states are controlled by Republican legislatures and or governors. Each candidate is permitted an observer at every polling site.

It isn’t as if there is one computer you have to hack to rig the election – you have to rig the election in every state – every ward and district. You would also have to change millions of votes to change the results. It simply defies logic to believe that an election can be rigged. One state maybe in a tight election. But this is not going to be a tight election.

The complexity of rigging the election is so great it is simply not likely to be happen.

And of course every independent observer – even foreign organizations – of US elections has never found any evidence of widespread election rigging.

I suspect Trump is going to lose because he was an awful candidate with several policy proposals that the majority of Americans do not support. He also ran a disorganized ineffective campaign – and if you cannot run a campaign – how do you run a government?

#37 Comment By Bama Earl On October 21, 2016 @ 8:33 am

“…who would have been a pushover for any other GOP contender.”

I don’t know why conservatives keep telling themselves this lie. Yes, another candidate would not be losing as badly, but I don’t think any Republican would have beaten Clinton in 2016. I believe this for two reasons:

1. Hispanics and single women are the new Reagan Democrats, i.e. groups that can swing elections. Republicans go out of their way to alienate these groups. None of the 2016 GOP candidates for president seemed to make any effort to reach out to them.

2. All of their economic policies reek of 1981. Has there been a candidate running for the Republican nomination who has said, “sometimes we have to raise taxes” or “not all regulation is bad?” in the past 30 years? Their adoration for Reagan has turned into a cult that purges anyone who deviates from supply side dogma.

#38 Comment By Elijah On October 21, 2016 @ 8:51 am

@ Anne – that doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it honest, and there are plenty of Bernie supporters who don’t think the rank dishonesty of Wasserman-Schulz was in any way understandable in a democratic process.

And the way the media colluded with the DNC and Clinton campaigns against Sanders is just another nail in the credibility of our national media.

Oh, good, another common institution that self-destructs.

#39 Comment By Rusty On October 21, 2016 @ 11:38 am

Live by media attention, die by media attention.


My main concern? We’ve seen what he’s willing to do for attention while the national media is fully focused on him: what kind of escalations can we expect when the cameras turn away after he fires America on Nov. 8th?

#40 Comment By l’autre J On October 21, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

For those of you who want to “blow the whole system up” I repeat: you can’t control a revolution.

It isn’t a revolution, really. There is no realistic governance concept to it, no serious alternative to “the status quo” or The System that stands a chance of working. This is not a secret to any career politician. The best advocate the reactionaries could find willing to step on the national stage and claim its plausibility and desirability was Trump. It always was a fool’s errand but it was felt necessary by enough Americans that the attempt be made.

This election is pretty much a generational dispute about retention of social/cultural privilege and power. It’s not looking good for the defenders on the nationwide level, obviously, and to appearances they’re already past peak in the places they were given control on the state level, e.g. Kansas. The defenses of the old order and its political representatives are now being organized on the local/county level in stronghold areas. With the zealots thinking about retreat to subgovernmental levels, to militias and a guerilla movement, to their subtribes and clans.

#41 Comment By kierkegaard71 On October 21, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

Let me apply Occam’s Razor on my own: the simplest explanation for Donald Trump’s lousy performance as a candidate is that he colluded with Hillary or a close ally of hers to ensure her victory this year. It is is a win/win for them. The other explanation is that Donald Trump is just a sociopath.

#42 Comment By Thomas Kaempfen On October 21, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

The other explanation is that Donald Trump is just a sociopath.

Nailed it.

#43 Comment By GSW On October 24, 2016 @ 9:11 am

“Jim Rutenberg of the NYT and I talked briefly the other day about Trump’s claim that the election is being “rigged” by the media.”

Followed your link to his article.

While he skillfully skates around the issue, he shows little or no understanding of, or sympathy for, what ought to be the role of professional standards and ethical norms for journalists in an election campaign. One might think here of objectivity and a neutral voice or fairness and balance, for example, but he certainly doesn’t.

And, although he included several quotes by you in his narrative, it’s not clear he understood what you were talking about. Indeed, your views were used as a foil to project his own snooty opinion that the rubes who live outside of “the major cities” subscribe to your “sweeping generalizations.”

For him, the great danger to American democracy is that Trump (aka Dr. Evil) and his supporters are “poisoning the minds of the electorate” and thereby putting “the reporters covering his rallies in danger.”

Yellow journalism at its most erudite and parochial.

#44 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 24, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

I know if he’d won the nomination, that “vast rightwing” arsenal that had been aimed at Clinton for decades would have been turned on a dime and trained on the white-haired populist from Vermont who’d suddenly be portrayed as a Castro-loving, anti-American fanatic from his New Left youth.

And a good third of those now voting for Donald Trump would have loved it. That’s where the leadership of both parties, and the media, get it wrong. Americans aren’t afraid of that sort of caricature, and the more truly revolutionary they made Bernie look, the more popular he would have been. (Actually, Sanders is a milquetoast socialist who could never live up to the accusations that would be launched at him.)

#45 Comment By Alan On October 25, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

Keep telling yourself all of that Rod. In places where people can vote early at actual polling places with electronic machines, several have reported that they tap the box for “Trump”, but if (hopefully when) they go back to review their ballot before hitting “submit”, somehow (LOL), the box for HC has been checked.