A Terrifying Decision

When Trump was elected I said that America would survive as long as he didn’t start a nuclear war. America has survived bad presidencies in the past; in fact there have been several in just my lifetime. Nuclear war would be a game changer because it would change life on this planet as we know it – and that is the best case scenario outcome. For some time I have feared another threat as deadly to America that I was afraid to mention; until today that is. Let’s explore.

We know that the Mueller probe is weeks and more likely months ahead of what is publically known. We definitely know that many in Trump’s orbit broke laws. There was conspiracy with foreign powers including and primarily the Russians. There was also foreign interference in the 2016 election. How impactful these illegal efforts were is the unknown. Only a fool would maintain that they did not affect the results. The question is whether they affected the results to the extent that they changed the outcome of the election. I and my readers simply lack the information to accurately answer that question. What if Robert Mueller and his team don’t? And what if the answer is yes? That prospect is both terrifying and presents a moral quandary the likes of which no man has ever faced.

The success of a democracy is dependent on informed participation. At minimum that participation consists of voting. America already has a voter turnout problem. The voter turnout in the last mid-term election (2014) was 36.4%, it was 28.5% in the 2016 Democratic and Republican primaries combined, and only 58% in the 2016 general election. Think about that for a moment. In 2014 a little over one-third of the eligible voters elected the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. That says nothing of state and local level races. In 2016 with an open presidency a little over one-quarter selected the two major candidates who were the only people with a chance of becoming the President. With the biggest prize in American government up for grabs well less than two-thirds of eligible voters could be bothered to actually cast a vote.

Note I said a democracy needs informed participation. Let’s add to that dismal turnout the fact that many voters were ill informed. They were either the victims of deliberate misinformation campaigns (some of which Mueller is investigating) or polarized “news”. Left and especially right some news outlets are selective in what they broadcast or print skewing coverage heavily to their side. Many “news sources” print flat out falsehoods or unfounded conspiracy theories.

What if our dismal turnout numbers got drastically worse? Would that effectively kill our democracy? What if turnout levels fell into the teens or single digits? How could that happen you ask? The answer is a huge upsurge in voter apathy caused by a lack of confidence in the system.

Voter suppression depresses turnout and needs to be fought against. Voter suppression is nothing compared to what a collapse in confidence in the system and its integrity could produce.

Today too many people don’t vote because they feel their vote means nothing and gets lost in the big picture. Gerrymandering feeds off and fuels that. In too many states or political sub-divisions gerrymandering has made that substantially true. However not every race is pre-determined by gerrymandering. Chances are even in the worst cases several races on your ballot are competitive. Here is the reality; a whole lot more would be competitive with a larger turnout.

If it were proven that a major race like the presidency was effectively fixed by a foreign power(s) turnout would plummet in the absence of drastic protective actions. In that case democracy would for all intents and purposes die.

The day after every election I see results I like and results I detest. November 9, 2016 was certainly no exception. But I accept the results because I believe in our democracy and the basic integrity of our elections. I am not naive, I know a few votes were cast or disallowed illegally but that is minor and doesn’t affect the outcome. My vote counted and if my neighbors outvoted me that is the American way. If I thought that the results bore no resemblance to the votes actually cast why would I continue to show up? The bottom line is that confidence in the basic fairness of the system is what has kept me returning to every presidential and mid-term election since 1972 (the first year I was eligible to vote). In fact in that time I have only missed two primaries, both when I was too new to communities to know the candidates and issues.

Now what if Robert Mueller discovers that the foreign interference actually changed the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election? Does he go public with that information or bury it? That is a moral dilemma! If I ever get around to writing that novel on my bucket list it would also make for a great sub-plot.


Vladimir Putin rules Russia in a dictatorial fashion. He had to have been aware of or have personally authorized the interference in our 2016 election. Trump was his favored candidate. We could discuss the reason(s) for days. It could range from his personal hatred of Hillary Clinton to the possession of compromising information on Donald Trump. He also appears to want to weaken America, the EU, NATO and western interests in general thereby strengthening Russia’s position. At least until Trump, America was the undisputed leader of the free world and the west. The default defense in basketball was always to cut off the head (point guard) and then the animal (opposing team) dies. A definitive conclusion would call for speculation at this point.

Just by sowing doubt Putin has won.                      

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One thought on “A Terrifying Decision”

  1. You teased an interesting thought exercise. What if it turns out that the election was thrown to Trump by illicit means (Russia)? That would certainly ignite a constitutional conundrum. Would the results be invalidated and Hillary named President? Would we have a re-do? This is untrod and scary territory.

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