As you may have heard, Jill Stein and the Green Party have raised enough money in donations (presumably from dissatisfied Clinton supporters) to push for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If we were talking about a few hundred votes in each state, this would certainly be a smart idea, but the fact is, all-told, she’s 70,000 votes behind in all three. While this is probably a waste of money (the Louisiana senate race could use Democrat dollars), there are many other reasons why this is a disaster, not just for Clinton and the Democrats, but for our democracy in general.
The Recount is Based on Speculation
Apparently the idea of the recount was spurred on by a University of Michigan computer scientist who stated that there was a 7% discrepancy between the vote totals in computer-based voting machine counties as opposed to those with paper ballots. But as Nate Silver explained, these were in counties which were overwhelmingly white, rural, pro-Trump counties, so it makes sense. Moreover, as far as I can tell, none of these computer-based voting machines are connected to the internet. ‘Hacking’ the machines would entail evading notice and installing hardware into each machine to skew the count. As much as you think Russia has the ability to change election results, the idea that a few dozen agents could break into counties to ‘fix’ the machines betrays common sense. Even the computer scientist and the Clinton campaign admitted there was no evidence of hacking.
While they haven’t come out and said the election was ‘rigged’, a recount, while legal, infers that the voting process was somehow manipulated against Hillary Clinton, and Trump is right when he calls her out for hypocrisy. As many memes have suggested, this is a complete betrayal of the agreement that she would accept the results of the election.
It’s a Violation of the Cease Fire
By all accounts, the Clinton and Trump teams agreed that she would concede the election 15 minutes after the Associated Press named the winner, and she did that. So began the healing of the raw and open wounds of this election process. Trump remained mostly restrained, conciliatory and presidential. He spent time speaking with Obama about the transition, and decided against pushing for an independent prosecutor to look into Clinton. But now, with the recount, all bets are off again. Trump is now accusing Clinton of winning the popular vote with illegal immigrant votes in the millions (which is unproven).
It Could Spill Out Into the Streets
A provocative blog post in The American Thinker suggests that the recount operation is not about proving that Clinton won – it’s about denying Trump, at the most, the Presidency, and at the least, legitimacy. What does that mean, exactly? If Trump is robbed of legitimacy, he won’t be able to forward his agenda. But worse than that, it could provoke mass protests by the left, and a violent reaction by the right and Trump himself. While that outcome is not likely, it brings us that much closer. Much ink has been spilled on the peaceful transition of power, but if Trump is robbed of his ability to assume the Presidency, and embarrassed, his reaction might be worse than tweets.
This Pushes Trump into a Corner
The best the left (and centrist, establishment Republicans) can hope for at this point is the nomination of politicians like Mitt Romney who will repair and maintain relationships with NATO and our allies in the Middle East and Asia. This recount effort will have the effect of convincing Trump to react by listening to his closest aids about nominating far right loyalists to government posts, and abandoning hard-won progress against climate change, protecting the uninsured and gay marriage.