Law & the Courts

Before Hillary Clinton Lost, Scrutinizing Election Results Was ‘Unpatriotic’ and ‘Undemocratic’

Voting machines at a polling place in Las Vegas, Nev., November 8, 2016. (Reuters photo: David Becker)
Now, liberals are singing a different tune.

When Hillary Clinton was expected to win the presidency, liberals called Donald Trump’s claims that the vote would be “rigged” and his refusal to promise he’d accept the results an assault on democracy itself. In the wake of Trump’s victory, they’re singing the opposite tune.

Trump never should have called into question the legitimacy of the presidential election. But it has been amusing to watch the Left engage in the same conspiracy-mongering that it denounced as beyond the pale just weeks ago.

Hand-wringing about Trump’s dubious claims appeared on the front page of nearly every major news source after his third and final debate with Clinton. The Associated Press’s lead story stated that Trump was “threatening to upend a fundamental pillar of American democracy.” The Toronto Star suggested that democracy on earth was at risk. A Rolling Stone piece, headlined “At the Final Debate, Trump Threatens American Democracy,” opened with a grave warning: “America. Our Republic is at risk.” The New York Times’s Charles Blow penned a piece titled “Donald Trump vs. American Democracy,” in which he called Trump’s failure to promise he would abide by the election results “horrifying . . . jaw-dropping, unprecedented, and thoroughly irresponsible.” For good measure, he added, “This is an attack on our democracy itself.”

Now that Trump has won the election, however, Democrats are suddenly concerned with the integrity of the vote. Clinton’s defeat has brought about everything from denunciations of the Constitutional electoral process to feverish accusations of vote-hacking by Russia. The evidence that election fraud sunk Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is nonexistent, so those claiming otherwise have simply asked a question: If the Russians hacked Democrats’ e-mails, why couldn’t they have hacked our election?

This is the spirit that animated Paul Krugman’s Twitter rant last week:

After cooling off from his tantrum, Krugman said he simply wanted to see that suspicions about a conspiracy were being addressed, rather than rejected a priori. Yet before the election, Trump’s suspicions about the election drew criticism far and wide. And even after Krugman’s colleagues on Twitter talked him off the cliff about election tampering, he still fanned the conspiracy’s flames by flippantly tweeting that Putin and Comey gave the election to Trump.

#related#Back on October 17, Vox’s editor in chief, Ezra Klein, called Trump’s questions about the election’s safety “unpatriotic” and said, “Trump is pouring gasoline atop the foundation of America’s democracy and playing with a match.” Today, Vox is calling for recounts “just in case” and giving oxygen to baseless fear-mongering about Russian interference in the election.

The media now claims that recounts, double-checks, and scrutiny epitomize healthy democracy, when before, democracy everywhere was at risk if the Republican nominee raised the topic of voter fraud. The hypocrisy is obvious and breathtaking, but we shouldn’t lose sight of its wider implication: If convictions about democracy are contingent upon partisan circumstances, our democracy is even less healthy than the Left imagines.

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