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The lives of others


Ten days before the 2016 presidential election, the FBI attempted what turned out to be a successful coup d’ etat.

In the comments to Scott’s post clarifying exactly how a domestic intelligence agency threw an election by choosing to intervene against one candidate, when it had vastly more significant information at its disposal it could have used to intervene against the candidate’s opponent, MDrew quotes Scott and then asks the following question:

Trump is not a legitimate president and should not be treated as such.

Very honest question. How, exactly, is this done, concretely?

I have a rough idea with regard to Democrats in Washington, though would appreciate clarification.

But how is this done among the rest of us, exactly?

It’s a good and important question.  I’m going to try to give only the beginnings of an answer.

First, it’s important to internalize the reality of what has happened.  Rewenzo ends his/her excellent summary of the current state of affairs by noting that “this is the second straight Republican president who was awarded the presidency by an organ of the state, and not by voters.”

The theft of the 2016 election by the FBI was, however, exponentially worse than the theft of the 2000 election by the SCOTUS.

In 2000, the relevant state organ did not interfere with the election until after the fact.  This is a crucial distinction.  A legitimate election actually took place, although the candidate who actually won the vote was denied office by ex post facto intervention.  As bad as that was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as immensely powerful state actors attempting (successfully it turned out) to rig the outcome ahead of time, via an equally illegitimate intervention into the electoral process.  The latter act means that no legitimate election ever took place — only something that looked at the time like a legitimate election.

Furthermore, the 2000 election was, legitimately, extremely close.  The 2016 election was not close: Clinton got nearly three million more votes, and “lost” only because the FBI found a way to detonate successfully the unexploded bomb that is (or was) our electoral college system, via a grossly unethical and probably illegal ex ante intervention, that beyond any reasonable doubt threw the electoral college to the candidate who lost the popular vote by a large margin.

In short, Trump’s presidency is, from both a democratic and procedural standpoint, no more legitimate than the Pinochet regime in Chile, or the Ulbricht regime in East Germany.

So, first things first: figuring out how to live in a place that as of today resembles at a very fundamental level East Germany in 1951 or Chile in 1973 requires coming to grips that this is where we live now.  (Obviously there are still various differences between these places.  For example I can still publish this post.)   Where we live now means that the appropriate attitude of patriotic citizens is one of resistance to the regime: not merely resistance to its particular political goals and initiatives, but resistance to its purported legitimacy.  How is the latter sort of resistance carried out?  That will depend entirely on the particular position of each individual who is part of the resistance.  But the first step is to recognize the political and social reality of our present situation.  Suggestions for further steps are most welcome.


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