Questions about the legitimacy of the United States government and its institutions should never be taken lightly. When a candidate for president disavows the system, it reduces the trust the populace has in that system. Donald Trump’s fears of a rigged election are misplaced and dangerous.
The United States has a unique system of governance in that the government is an unqualified bipartisan representative democracy. There is nothing in the Constitution mandating an adversarial system or any organizational ideas for the populace. The first-past-the-post elections and the electoral college facilitate the two-party system, but they are not the be-all and end-all. However, nature abhors a vacuum, and eventually we came to the current system, with some bumps along the way. It is not a rigged system. It could use some reform with regard to financing and gerrymandering, but it is by no means broken.
Elections are run through the state and county governments of the nation, not by the federal government. Yes, the federal government does maintain agencies for regulating elections, but, by and large, there is no strong federal presence. The electoral college hinges in part on the roles of the state and county actors. However, there are thousands of volunteers and bureaucrats who dedicate their time each election to ensure elections continue as planned. To be sure, it would be incredibly difficult to alter the results of such a large election. Although voter fraud is a serious topic, it is extremely rare (according to a News21 report, overall numbers amounted to 1 in 15 million voters between 2000 and 2012).
The numerous allegations of fraud and “rigging” are entirely vacuous. Not only is it incredibly tedious and difficult to commit real voter fraud, especially in the digital age, but there are staff whose careers depend on running elections. Trying to delegitimize an election while running in that same election is foolish and dangerous. It creates an expectation of a broken system. Ten-year-olds have a term for this: it’s called “being a sore loser.” Trump’s emphasis on the “rigged” system has created a tense atmosphere and unnecessarily stressed the electoral system of the nation.
This is not new to Trump, or other politicians for that matter. In particular, Trump accused Marco Rubio of rigging the primary in Florida several days before Trump won Florida. He accused Ted Cruz of rigging the primary in Texas. Trump uses polls as indicators of how voters will actually vote, instead of focusing on results. He does this because it’s an excuse if his campaign falls short “” which it has. Trump’s polling has not increased past its 40-point ceiling since the Republican National Convention. Voters expect their candidates to win no matter what because their opinions are shaped by their perception of themselves and their friends. Although this is a result of a lack of perception that there are millions of Americans in the United States who have different views, it is mindless.
Trump is using the “rigged” idea to make an excuse for his poor candidacy. In essence, it is a cop-out. The election is not rigged, and the polls have shown a consistent favoring among Hillary Clinton’s electorate. Demographic changes mixed in with unchanged perceptions of America have led to this argument gaining traction. Trump is saving face “” this is a man who cannot stand to be considered a loser. Ultimately, this self-service will do nothing but incite further politically charged issues, without addressing the real problems the country faces.