Sarada Peri (Former senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama), writing in The Atlantic, confirms our fears that Trump Is Going to Cheat She then asks: How should Democrats fight against a president who has no moral or legal compass?
Add to that his 15,000+ lies and his claims about not honoring outcomes of future elections. Here are excerpts.
… concerns about policy and broad cultural appeal are secondary to the true “electability” crisis facing whichever Democrat wins the nomination: He or she will need to run against a president seemingly prepared, and empowered, to lie and cheat his way to reelection.
If past is prologue, Trump will say absolutely anything necessary to attract and maintain support, including patent untruths. His pathological lying has been well documented and yet never ceases to stun. By one count, he has told more than 15,000 lies since taking office. A small sampling: After falsely declaring that Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Alabama, he displayed a doctored map to cover his tracks, and his chief of staff made the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration release a statement defending his lie. Trump also recently claimed that he rescued health coverage for people with preexisting conditions—even though he has gutted the Affordable Care Act and is suing to overturn it. One day after tweeting, “We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget,” his budget revealed cuts to both.
How can Democrats run against a candidate who will simply deny his unpopular positions and make up nonexistent accomplishments? No amount of fact-checking can counter his constant stream of mendacity, which has become white noise in our political culture.
Perhaps the most troubling form of cheating is the most diffuse, and therefore the hardest to grasp. Trump’s reelection campaign, abetted by right-wing media and companies like Facebook that have absolved themselves of any democratic responsibility, is waging a disinformation war modeled on the efforts of dictators and unprecedented in its scale. As reported by this magazine, the campaign is prepared to spend $1 billion to harness digital media to the president’s advantage, including bot attacks, viral conspiracy theories, doctored videos, and microtargeted ads that distort reality.
At the same time, his campaign is fomenting distrust in the very system he is undermining. Using guerrilla tactics, his supporters jammed up the Iowa Democratic Party hotline on caucus night to sow chaos. Then, when the results indeed yielded chaos, Republican trolls, including Don Jr., tweeted out conspiracy theories about a rigged election. Worst of all, congressional Republicans are shamelessly blocking election-security bills, including two that would specifically fight foreign interference in American elections.
Should the lying and cheating fail—should the Democrat manage to win the 2020 election—Trump will have one more trick up his sleeve. Before the 2016 election, he suggested that he might not accept a defeat. So who’s to say that he will accept one in 2020? You don’t have to squint hard to see the clues: He retweeted Jerry Falwell Jr.’s suggestion that he ought to have two years added to his term and “joked” about staying in office longer than eight years. If he loses in November, the litigious showman might claim that the election was rigged against him and theatrically contest the results in court.
What to do
The cumulative effect of Trump’s efforts, of all the stains on his shirt, is to disorient the media and the electorate. Democrats, meanwhile, are fighting about how aggressive to get on climate change or whether debt-free college should be means-tested—bless their hearts. These are worthy questions, but not the question of the moment: How should they fight against a president who has no moral or legal compass, and who will use the full might of the executive branch to win?
Electability, ultimately, cannot rest on the shoulders of whomever the party nominates, talented though that person may be. Electability does not depend, simply, on the nominee’s ability to earn the votes of a wide array of Americans in a few battleground states. It depends on all Americans’ willingness to demand an election that is, indeed, free and fair.
(Thanks to our Roving Reporter Sherry for the tip on this one.)