Donald Trump’s hesitance to pre-accept the 2016 election results has elicited broad condemnation by the media and members of both parties. They paint him as a petulant child acting like a sore loser before he’s even lost.
Well, yes, that’s right, but Hillary Clinton is acting like a smug winner before she’s even won. Both should defy calls to endorse the fairness and legitimacy of an election that is weeks away. Not that Hillary would budge from her position that, in America’s “free and fair” elections, “somebody wins and somebody loses. So what he said tonight is part of his whole effort to blame somebody else for his campaign.”
She’s got a winning line as long as Trump cagily tries to hedge a potential loss with fuzzy specters of voter fraud he invents as he goes along.
Imagine, though, that instead of whining a vain “no fair,” Trump had said the following last night.
I very much want to accept the results of the election. But if there’s widespread evidence of vote tampering, it would be irresponsible to do that. The electoral integrity of our democracy is at the center of who we stand for as a people. If we don’t ensure everybody’s vote counts and counts equally, our representatives won’t be, well, representative.
But for that to happen, every vote should come from a voter who is a citizen – and who is alive. I’ve heard reports that concern me about problems with the voter rolls, and some of our people are looking into it, and so should some of yours, Hillary – and some of yours, Chris. In fact, Chris, if Fox News finds widespread evidence of cheating, will you accept the results of the election nonetheless? Surely a fair and balanced news organization would wait for an election to happen before validating the result!
And remember that Hillary, in the year 2000, didn’t demand that Al Gore accept the outcome of an election George W. Bush won by a few hundred votes in Florida. She supported Gore in his lawsuit to overturn the results. Look it up. Does Hillary think both 2000 candidates should have promised in advance to accept the election results no matter what, and thus Gore should have thus conceded permanently once the initial results were announced?
In fact, 2000 is an excellent example. Who thought butterfly ballots and hanging chad could make the public distrust the election’s fairness? Who had even heard of them? Nobody knows what this year’s butterfly ballots might be. By demanding my surrender on whether a future election “was” fair, you ask me to betray my voters in the off-chance I’ve got more than she does but the vote-counters get the result wrong because somebody cheated.
In fact, I’m going to say something that will shock you but demonstrate my passion for the integrity of the ballot box: I pledge to you, the American people, to contest the results of this election if I come out ahead but the amount of voter fraud is enough to have stolen the election from Hillary. Hillary, will you do the same if you achieve a win through apparent fraud?
That kind of answer completely turns this controversy on its head. Right now Trump’s approach is only about helping Trump. Instead, he could keep his precise stance but do it by championing the precious franchise American soldiers died for, suffragettes pushed for, and Martin Luther King marched for.
A truly great politician can turn a flaw into an asset. Trump had plenty of time to prepare for this question – it was asked in the first debate! – and in this case he actually has logic and fairness on his side. Because nobody should certify an election that has not happened. Instead here’s what he actually said last night:
“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I’ll look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing.… If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote. Millions. This isn’t coming from me. This is coming from Pew report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.”
What a symbol for this terrible election that even when Trump is right he’s wrong.
David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.