Look, we all know that Donald J Trump is a narcissist. Big deal, almost every politician is a narcissist, since the most basic qualification of being a politician is the ability to speak endlessly of your brilliance, and how you alone can fix everybody else’s problems. The problem with Trump is that he’s a delusional narcissist, his total belief in his omnipotence is a central part of his personality.
Trump is a loser, and to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men; “He can’t handle the truth!”. Hillary Clinton cleaned his clock by 3 million votes, so his automatic fallback position has been “the greatest electoral college victory since Ronald Reagan!” Bullshit, but it helps him to sleep at night.
Trump’s defense since the Trump-Russia scandal broke has not been about a possible relationship between himself or his campaign with Russia, but on his legitimacy. “Blob the Builder” as Bill Maher called him, would deal with Satan to put up high rise condos in hell, and then skimp on the fireproofing and smoke detectors. And the possibility of a video tape of him engaging in water sports in a Moscow hotel room? Bring it on, this is a guy who used to call tabloid newspapers, pretending to be his own PR guy, to try to splash his extramarital affairs all over the headlines. To Trump’s mind, he has never once obstructed justice in the investigation, he has defended himself against slanderous allegations and vicious rumors. And his defense there is so perfectly cyclical and consistent it is clear he actually believes that.
But the implication that Vladimir Putin personally carried him over the electoral college finish line when he couldn’t manage to crawl across himself? The mere suggestion that not only did he lose the popular vote, but that “Crooked Hillary” would actually be sitting in the Oval Office if it wasn’t for some damn Russian would irrevocably demolish the entire foundation of his persona as a winner. It is intolerable.
And it’s already starting. In the last 24 hours, both MSNBC and CNN have touched lightly on the subject, and Politico has a lengthy story about it linked on the main page. But I predict that it’s going to come front and center in the media very soon. The Mueller indictments laid out in exquisite detail just how massive and intricate the Russian involvement in the 2016 election was. Over $1 million a month when it was in full swing. Cutout servers to make it appear that anti Hillary, pro Trump blogs, comments and tweets were US generated. US bank accounts opened with stolen US identities used to pay for necessary expenses to make the payments look domestic. When your “massive” electoral college victory consists of 70,000 votes spread Nutella on toast thin over three states, any evidence of micro targeting of advertising and media in swing districts, or even massive carpet bombing saturation of critical swing states with advertising and social media blitzes is going to invite analysis on the likelihood of all of those efforts swinging the outcome.
When this happens, it will drive Trump insane, and that makes him dangerous. after all, while it put Stormy Daniels back on the main page, having Michael Cohen come out and publicly admit that he paid her with his own money was a nice distraction from Rob Porter and John Kelly dominating the front pages and top-of-the-hour coverage. While I have no doubt that Trump would gleefully tough his way through any possible impeachment for obstruction of justice, if his Presidential legitimacy were to seriously come into question, I fear that a preemptive conventional strike against Iran or North Korea would be a totally acceptable action to him to get his legitimacy issues off of the front pages.
But forget about Trump and his massive ego for a minute. This situation is a national nightmare as well. Look, pretty much everybody in the country save the Orangutan in Chief hates the electoral college, and with good reason. But the founding fathers put it there for perfectly legitimate reasons, first, to prevent a populist charlatan from exploiting a gullible and politically naive population, and second, to ensure that no foreign power could literally “buy” a Presidency. But there was no fail safe. There is nothing in the constitution that provides relief and a constitutional remedy in the unthinkable case of an actual illegitimate Presidency. The founding fathers had no way of envisioning a time when a barrage of digital impulses could dupe a gullible population without anybody being the wiser as it occurs. Which begs the question; Has technology rendered democracy obsolete? The bedrock of our democracy is of course, fair and free elections. But if we as a nation no longer believe our elections are either fair or free, how can we continue to allow ourselves to be governed by that principle, when it may well no longer exist?
When it comes to outside interference to the actual act of voting, and fairly tabulating the results, the solution is ridiculously simple. Paper fucking ballots. Old school, it served us well for almost 200 years. Hell, if you wanted to go full inclusion, states, or even the US government could mail paper ballots to every registered voter in the country, with a deadline postmark date to ensure they were returned by election day. This would have multiple benefits. First, it would increase voter participation, since people would no longer have to bundle up, brave weather, and stand in line to cast a ballot. Also, it would nip voter suppression in the bud, since minorities could no longer be forced to stand in long lines at polling places with insufficient voting booths, and there would be no more repressive “voter ID laws” to drive people away from polling places. And best of all, it could also mitigate the effects of voter misinformation and propaganda campaigns from foreign actors like Russia by diluting the strength of those easily swayed voters with a sudden surplus of “sane” and educated voters who simply didn’t bother to vote when they had to show up in person, but don’t mind dropping an envelope off in a mail bag at work, or a mailbox somewhere convenient.
So yes, the upcoming firestorm over the actual legitimacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency based on the depth and scope of the Russian interference in the election is going to drive him absolutely starkers. But it should also be a 5 am wake up call to every person in this country that actually likes a little legitimacy in our electoral process. The Russians well and truly have the bit between their teeth now on interfering in out electoral process for their own gains, and the meter is running. What’s it gonna be America?