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President Trump exercises his power by having no concern for the truth. It's OK for him to lie because he sees lying as a way of flexing. He lies, the media fact checks, he laughs. It's not about reality, it's about winning. I've started to understand that I live in that world...where, for my president, the truth isn't interesting. A firehose of lies, and an army of perplexed fact checkers, signifying nothing.

But when the lies turn to rot in the foundation of the system, when what sounds good to Trump one day is talking about how an election where he loses isn't a legitimate election, that's where it gets scary. It gets scary because, in one way, it's nothing new...of course President Trump lies about voter fraud, he lies about everything.

And yet, on the other hand, it still shocks me, because the people who love him were supposed to love America...the constitution...tradition. The moment he started saying things like, "If we lose, it's rigged" I thought that would mean something to them. But it doesn't seem like it does. It seems like they love a strongman who looks powerful, even if that strongman is breaking the one fundamental institution that our government is based on by calling on his followers to not accept the outcome of an election that he doesn't win.

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Good morning John.

In the year 2000 I lived in Florida, and I voted in my very first presidential election. And the decision between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by 537 votes in the state of Florida.

In the wake of that election, which was so close that the Supreme Court had to decide whether or not to continue efforts to recount ballots that were mispunched, and suddenly phrases like 'hanging chad' and 'butterfly ballot' entered the national lexicon, a lot of people cried fraud.

This was made worse by a legitimate error in a computerized election system that counted a precinct with 600 voters as negative 16,000 votes for Gore. The glitch was caught, but seen by many as an indication (or even proof) that election machines had been hacked in favor of Bush, possibly intentionally, with a plot between Republicans and the manufacturer of the machines, as the CEO of that company was a major Republican donor.

Which just seems like ... maybe not do that if you run the voting machine company!

Among my friend group in college, a lot of people just sorta went on with their lives assuming that the Republican Party had defrauded democracy and that George W. Bush was an illegitimate president. 

But we were like, ultra-lefty college students. Al Gore didn't say that, none of the Democratic leadership said that, even Ralph Nader (the third-party candidate) didn't say that.

Everybody came together and decided we had a new president, we had done democracy, we had done the American thing, and even if it had some flaws, we were going to move forward together.

President Trump doesn't talk like that. Before the 2016 election, he repeatedly said that plots by the Democratic Party were going to deprive him of victory.  Even after he won the election, he said he only lost the popular vote because millions of undocumented immigrants voted. Like, it was just lies because it sounded good.

President Trump talks like a political pundit, and that's not just a difference in style. When you have the power of the office of the President of the United States behind you, there are things you shouldn't say because they attack the foundations of the country.

Saying, without any semblance of, or even intention toward proving it, that there's widespread voter fraud funded by the people who oppose you, that's like - it weakens democracy. 

That's what President Trump has done, that's what he continues to do, he's lied about undocumented immigrants voting, he's lied about people in Pennsylvania voting multiple times, he's lied about people in Massachusetts being bused up to New Hampshire to vote.  He outright said, during the campaign, the only way we can lose is if they cheat.

The Republican Party has long made the case that individual people voting fraudulently is a big problem. A lot of people who know a lot about this disagree with that, but that is the thing that they say.  And they've used that for decades as a way of passing laws that make it more difficult for people to vote, particularly poorer people.

But the path from that, where voter fraud is a big problem, to "if I lose, it's rigged", is a pretty long path, and also one that no politician has ever walked down, because they're aware that that erodes the faith in democracy.  It's literally calling on your supporters to not accept the results of an election.

Democracy works because people have faith in the system, but lies about voter fraud erode that faith. One of the government's main goals should be to prove its own legitimacy, and if a leader is doing the opposite of that, it is hard to imagine reasons for that outside of wanting to retain power after losing an election.

I don't believe that any leader is greater than democracy, and I think that very few people in America do.  And that's the very obvious reason why rhetoric like this should be unacceptable to all of us.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

If you're in the U.S., November 6th is the day - a few really great resources have popped up this year to help you make sure you're registered, and to help you research the issues and candidates in your area, and I've linked to them below.