This LA Times Op-Ed piece, Why so many people want to believe the election was stolen, got my mind wondering…
The United States have seen ‘stolen elections‘ before, but the last time this happened in a presidential election—hanging chads, and all—, Al Gore was on the losing end of a misguided Supreme Court decision that landed George W Bush into the Whitehouse. This time, we see Donald J Trump on the losing end and Joe Biden running the victory lap—except Trump was running a victory lap himself until the weight of reality stalled him.
Many Gore supporters felt upset (and somewhat betrayed) as he conceded the election to Bush. Gore is an Institutionalist. For all of their hubris, some politicians still see the institution as a higher power greater than them. Al Gore is one of these. Despite all of their faults, most of the past presidents have been institutionalists—systemists. One of the benefits of the US system is a peaceful transfer of power. To preserve a system, proponents need to maintain the mythos of that institution.
Gore said that he fought the good fight, but by the rules of the system, he lost. Not different to a court case lost on technical grounds rather than merit, he sucked it up and demurred to the system. It may not be perfect, but it works.
Enter Donald Trump. Trump is not an institutionalist. He is entirely self-serving—a narcissist in pop-psychology vogue. He makes no qualms about disparaging the system. He seeded the fraud argument just to be able to say, ‘I told you so’, in the event of a loss. And so he did.
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Donald J Trump, like others before him—Homer J Simpson, Barney J Rubble, Forrest J Gump?—is a simple man—a simpleton. George W Bush was another. Many of their followers are simple, too, though not all are simpletons. They just want to believe. It’s human nature.
I am not an institutionalist, but I understand the comfort zone institutions provoke. And beyond nostalgia, there can be a certain benefit to institutions. For one, it’s easier to navigate charted territory. So, whilst I don’t have a horse in the institutional race, I can see how one’s disposition towards can be a factor in how it treats it.
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