Probably the most important headline to come out of the third (and thankfully, final) presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is that the Republican nominee and alleged billionaire refused to say to moderator Chris Wallace — and the country — that he would accept the outcome of the election, no matter what.
The reason this is such an important issue is that unlike virtually every other country in the history of the world, we’ve pretty much never had a transfer of power go violent on us. The Civil War is a key sticking point, but that’s kind of a special circumstance given the slavery and the Confederacy being its own, separate government, isn’t it? The bottom line is that about 40 times in 240 years our country has managed to do what is seemingly impossible in other countries — peacefully transition rule from one person (and more importantly one party) to another. Trump, as is his way, has decded his Trust Fund Ego is more important than stable governance.
A conservative estimate would be that there are about 1.2 million miles of intellectual space between suing to keep recounts going after votes have been cast — especially one as close as the 2000 race was — and preemptively calling the competition rigged if you don’t win. That’s whiny bitch boy behavior, and while I’m not surprised that a trust fund fascist like Trump would stoop to it, we’re still not comparing apples to apples when we talk about how Gore treated the aftermath of the 2000 election.
It’s really a very simple concept that Trump surrogates and misguided Republicans are missing. Gore was trying to navigate his options and ensure that the process of counting votes was fair. This happened, obviously, AFTER THE VOTES WERE CAST. It’s an important enough poin to warrant all-caps, it really is. Gore wasn’t trying to create a pre-excuse for his failure. Gore wasn’t attempting to cast doubt on the election before the election took place, in other words.
The reason that candidates have always pledged to accept the results of the election is that it’s a simple way of acknowledging that there aren’t fifty separate election boards conspiring against any one candidate. It’s saying, basically, that you have faith in your fellow Americans. For conservatives, I think it’s also about being smart and realizing you can’t accuse government of being incompetent in everything it does except rigging elections.
Back to Gore vs. Trump comparisons.
Another really important difference is that Gore used the courts to investigate and enforce the fairness of the election. He didn’t just bellow out accusations and attacks before ballots were even gathered. Al Gore took to the courts, which is what civilized Americans do, and ultimately he lost. Like a gracious adult, he conceded.
And he had even won the popular vote, to add insult to injury. So there was Al Gore, knowing that more Americans actually wanted him to be president, and he still stepped aside once the Supreme Court stopped the recounts. No one with a working brain will predict that Trump wins the popular vote. While Gore had a reason in a closely contested state with very tight results to push for recounts and question Jeb Bush’s influence over the Republican Attorney General, Trump is merely flinging his orangutan shit at the wall and seeing what sticks.
The problem is that what might stick is election night violence, for the first time in almost two and a half centuries.
No matter how you slice this one, you can’t come up with an apt Gore to Trump comparison. Unless you’re a hack or Brit Hume. The Fox News anchor tweeted this out last after the debate, and it floors me.
You don't have to agree (I don't) w/Trump's refusal to commit to accepting '16 result to reject Al Gore precedent. What Gore did was worse.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) October 20, 2016
So not only does ol’ Brit think the comparison is apt, he says that what Gore did is “worse” than essentially trying to threaten the American people with violence and unrest on election. Britt would later explain in a follow-up tweet that since Gore only sued to have counts in certain counties redone, that meant Gore was trying to rig the election. But, um, that’s pretty fucking stupid, and naive to boot.
Why on earth would Gore seek to have counts re-done in Republican counties? He was looking for more votes that went his way, and you would logically look where you already had seen a preponderance of votes. This is just Brit trying to justify his party’s candidate’s clear rebuke of accepted practices. Odd that a conservative would eschew tradition, but well, maybe Brit’s just a Republican and not a conservative these days.
The bottom line is that there is a mountain of difference between Al Gore in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016. That mountain is called “context.” People like Brit Hume aside, I think the majority of Americans understand that context, and find Trump — and his apologists — laughably partisan.
You sound like a moron when you compare Al Gore to Donald Trump. Seriously. A goddamned moron.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.