a point about democratic legitimacy ...

It's not inherently a problem in a democratic system to "win" by the rules despite losing the popular vote.

In a multiparty list system like Germany's or Israel's, it will often happen that the parties that eg finished 2nd and 3d will form a coalition that excludes the party that finished 1st.

In a Westminster system modelled on that of the UK, it will often happen that one party wins more votes, the other wins more seats. That's what happened in the Canadian federal election of 2019: the Conservatives got more votes; Justin Trudeau's Liberals got more seats. 3x/
In Germany, Israel, Canada, etc. the winner gets to form a government - but they don't get to speak for "the people." Indeed in a Westminster system, there is a formal job of "leader of the opposition" - building into the system constitutional recognition of diverging views. 4/x
The PM heads the government, and only that - not the nation.

The American presidency is different. An American president claims more than a legal mandate. He or she claims charismatic authority resting on "the will of the people." 5/x
This problem is of course compounded when a society confronts a would-be tyrant like Donald Trump. Trump is president only *by* the rules - yet he constantly seeks to *break* the rules based on a claim to represent "will of the people." It *matters* that the claim is false. 6/x
Which is why the Trump presidency is a walking legitimacy crisis - and why a hypothetical 2nd Trump term, almost certainly with an even bigger popular vote deficit than the first - will create an even bigger legitimacy crisis than the first term. 7/x
Trump respects none of the other institutions created by the Constitution, including the oversight power of Congress and the 1st Amendment. He wants to trample every law in the name of his voters, even though his voters are outnumbered by the other voters. 8/x
So yeah, Biden voters are right to worry that a Trump re-election won't be legitimate. Trump wants to rule by lawless power, resting ultimately on the threat of vigilante violence. Constitutional legitimacy will itself be the first casualty of a 2nd Trump term. - END -

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More from @davidfrum

14 Sep
"A blaze covering hundreds of acres will not seem, to anyone watching it on a tiny iPhone screen, any larger or more significant than a confrontation between a policeman and a protester on a random city block."
important by @anneapplebaum theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
@anneapplebaum Do you remember the "gilets jaunes" movement in France in late 2018? All the images of Paris on fire? What happened was that protesters built small bonfires hundreds of meters from major sites, then photographed the sites through the flames to create a false image of chaos
Read 5 tweets
10 Sep
I made this point w @AriMelber tonight am still brooding on it:

So Trump has confirmed in his own voice that he was not self-deluded about COVID. He knew the danger - and still opted to do nothing and instead belittle the risk in public.

The question that then follows ...
What on earth did Trump expect to happen next?

I get the utility of the "lie your way out of it" approach to scandals and crimes.

But you can't cover up an epidemic!

So *why* was he so passive? Action might have saved him, even the appearance of action. Instead, nothing. Why?
This question I think casts light on Trump's habitual lying.

At some deep level of his psyche, he imagines that words can change reality.

He has no idea eg how to run a business. But if you keep saying your business is "tremendous," bankers lend you money you need not repay.
Read 15 tweets
8 Sep
Some Trump defenders try to justify Trump's slurs against the military by comparing them to Eisenhower farewell address, the military-industrial complex speech. Anyone who says that is counting on you - not to read the speech. Here it is. avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/e…
As you'll see if you do read Eisenhower's speech, at the core of the speech is a plea by Eisenhower to control the defense budget.
And indeed, Eisenhower - who inherited the Korean War - did reduce defense spending over his eight years by some 27%.

In this respect, Trump is no Eisenhower. Over Trump's four years in office, he boosted defense spending from just over $600 bn to just over $700 bn.
Read 10 tweets
7 Sep
Every adversary of the United States, every enemy of liberal democracy, must smile with gratitude every day that Trump is president.
It's not the warriors who have seen combat who say, "I love war." It's Trump who said it.
It's Trump, not any American general, who fantasizes about a second Civil War
Read 12 tweets
5 Sep
This Trump scandal is breaking through. Here's People magazine
TMZ.com is reporting Trump's denial that he called fallen soldiers "losers" tmz.com/2020/09/04/don…
Read 11 tweets
2 Sep
People used to say "LOL nothing matters" to marvel that no Trump outrage drove his support much below 40%.

Also true: "LOL nothing matters" means that no Trump stunt or gambit can drive his support much above 44%.
If every legal voter who attempts to vote is allowed to vote; if every legal vote cast is counted; Trump will lose and lose big.

Election talk is not talk about "what the people want."

Election talk is talk about "what the governing authorities will permit the people to do."
Nothing in recent political memory has been as stable as the 52-55% anti-Trump majority in the US.

What we've been uncertain about since 2016 is only this question:

"How vulnerable to authoritarian manipulation is the US political system in the 21st century?"
Read 5 tweets

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