For those of you who have been busy stuffing your faces with excellent turkey and four different kinds of pie in order to escape the inevitable Thanksgiving family argument about the election, you may not have heard about the movement for a recount in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Gasp you should. Jill Stein (reminder: Greens party presidential candidate) has started up the process for a recount in the three battleground states which put Donald Trump over the top in the Electoral College vote – because unexpected voter results apparently indicates hacking or fraudulent activity. Or, crazy thought, maybe the polls were just wrong. In any case, the Clinton camp has been quietly supportive despite the appearance of hypocrisy. But don’t start celebrating, this doesn’t mean that Trump is no longer going to be president – not only is the process of a recount wastefully expensive and incredibly laborious, but all sides have bluntly stated that the odds of a recount overturning the election are pretty much zero. But in such a divided country, this type of action both reminds, and potentially reinforces, the deep divide in American politics.
Predictably, Trump is unhappy with scamming Stein, sore loser Clinton, desperate Democrats, the rigged system, illegal minority voters and generally the whole election. Which he won. Also predictably, he let the whole world know about his hurt feelings on the subject through Twitter, cleverly distracting from the recent Trump business furor while simultaneously tending his bruised ego by parading a false theory that he actually won the popular vote over Clinton, minus the millions of fraudulent votes of course. Never mind that fraud is super rare. Never mind that if there is any fraud, it’s highly unlikely to be restricted to only one party. Never mind that, ironically, his rant about a rigged system actually helps the case for a national recount in the interest of upholding election integrity. But it also it raises false hopes in Clinton supporters, and doesn’t allow the nation to move on from a painful, dirty, too-long campaign.
On the other hand, whether Trump accepts it or not, there actually are good reasons for holding a recount – a fairly usual occurrence in politics – whether or not it affects the results. Firstly, a confirmation of both the results and a lack of fraudulent incidents might give Americans renewed faith in a democratic system which has been attacked all year. Also, a recount might serve as a deterrent against future cyber-attacking entities (think: Russia, China, even WikiLeaks) who think they can rig an American election. Finally, a review of the election process might uncover holes in the system and highlight the need for improved security measures and updated equipment across all states. In a democracy, the winners humbly accept their victory and the losers graciously accept defeat. Both the recount and the subsequent response seemingly undermines the legitimacy of the system, but there is also the possibility of being able to create a stronger system for the future. And that’s something everyone should get on board with.
Feel you could spot a fraudster? Movie for your undercover mood: The Talented Mr. Ripley