Public Faith in Elections Falls as the State Grows

by Ryan McMaken

In the wake of the final presidential election debate last week, the mainstream media was appalled that Donald Trump would not pre-emptively agree to not contest the outcome of the election. Trump’s position reflects a growing faction of Americans who doubt the integrity and honesty of the American electoral system. In response, mainstream media sources have responded by vehemently insisting that “rigged” elections are “a myth.”

While rarely stated explicitly, the way American electoral politics is supposed to work is this: the population spends several months listening to the candidates accuse each other of terrible crimes, horrible ideas, and gross incompetence. Each candidate lists the ways he or she will use the power of government to force the winner’s policy preferences on the losers. Then, once the votes are cast, everyone is supposed to quickly accept the results, ignore everything that was said during the campaign, and immediately accept the winner as having an indisputable mandate to rule over everyone, including the sizable minority — or even the majority, in many cases — who either voted against the winner, or abstained. If there appears to be any “irregularities” in the vote, well, those should just be ignored because it would “tear the country apart” to “drag out” the election. If half the country feels it’s been cheated, well, tough luck and better luck next time.

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