by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The notion that Trump is not “legitimate” has picked up steam as the extent of Russia’s attempt to sway the recent presidential election has become clearer, although exactly how Trump is not legitimate is never explained. Donald Trump was nominated in accord with the rules of the Republican party. He was then elected by more than 270 members of the Electoral College, in accord with rules that have been in place since the 18th century. There is no evidence that electoral fraud or disenfranchisement account for his narrow victories in key states, and no one forced Hillary Clinton to forgo late-October visits to key swing states.
Nonetheless, a recent poll found that a majority of Democrats believe that Russia not only waged a campaign of misinformation but actually manipulated ballot totals — an allegation for which there is not a shred of proof. This is what happens when Democratic leaders and media partisans recklessly declare that Russia “hacked the election,” preferring to peddle that tale rather than admit that Donald Trump had a more appealing message to American voters.
Donald Trump is no less “legitimate” a president than was Barack Obama in January 2009. That does not mean that he comes into office popular, and no one expects Democrats to withhold criticism. However, there is an obvious distinction between suggesting that Donald Trump is ill-suited to the presidency and that he is illegally in office.
Friday’s inaugural ceremony is an opportunity for Democrats to acknowledge that difference. Set aside the spectacle that now accompanies it; at the core of the inauguration is a quadrennial reminder that the president is not a monarch, but a public servant subordinate to the Constitution. The duty to “preserve, protect, and defend” America’s founding charter applies equally to Republicans and Democrats, or to presidents who won the popular vote and presidents who didn’t.