Thursday, January 26, 2017
Back on January 21, the editorial in the Dominion Post meditated about possible consequences of the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House.
The headline was a great one. TRUMP ERA BEGINS AND THE WORLD HOLDS ITS BREATH.
Then it went on to say:
Barring any last-minute shock, a Donald Trump presidency begins this morning [New Zealand time].
That is a frightening fact: Trump's campaign was ugly, his transition has been a mess, and quite what his term portends no-one can tell.
"We have no freakin' idea what he's gonna do," as outgoing Vice-President Joe Biden said this week.
Some say Trump lacks legitimacy because he lost the popular vote, or because the FBI director made a partisan intervention late in the race, or because Russia apparently wanted Hillary Clinton to lose.
Actually, on the basis of what's known publicly, Trump won fairly – and that's that.
The really scary comment came at the end --
Trump is the president, and nothing other than handing over the White House to him could have been contemplated, no matter how few of the classified briefings he had read or the inadequacy of his staff.
The real dilemma will come, however, if he attacks the machinery of US democracy – by making it impossible for some people to vote, or censoring the press, or even, worst of all, rejecting the next election's results, as he threatened he might in 2016.
That is the democratic nightmare – an elected leader who doesn't respect the business of elections. It would be a crisis with no easy answer.
Is it possible that Trump would reject the result of the 2020 election, claiming it is invalid? Could 2017 be the start of an unstoppable Roman-style dynasty?
But why else is he insisting that there must be a fully fledged investigation of so-called voter fraud in the last election? The popular belief is that he is doing it because he is miffed that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote -- witness, for instance, the report in the New York Times.
But the motive could be a much more ominous one than that.
Nothing less than the sabotaging of the democratic process in the United States.