Whatever the eventual outcome of the recounts that Jill Stein is currently pushing, one person’s whose reputation it will leave in tatters is that of Jill Stein herself.
Despite Jill Stein’s protestations to the contrary it is impossible to see her demands for recounts in states which Donald Trump narrowly won as anything other than an attempt to deny Donald Trump the White House, and to install the declared loser – Hillary Clinton – in the White House in his place.
After all, as Jill Stein has herself admitted, there is “no smoking gun”, given which, if the objective is not to deny Donald Trump the White House, it is impossible to see the point of this exercise.
If – as I fully expect – the attempt fails, and the existing results are reaffirmed, Jill Stein will be left looking ridiculous, and those who have been trying to delegitimise Donald Trump’s election victory will be angry with her for depriving them of one of their best arguments for denying the validity of Donald Trump’s victory.
I should say in passing that the reasons some people giving for denying the truth of Donald Trump’s victory – which is based on what appear to highly questionable extrapolations from exit polls and supposed discrepancies between manual and machine made vote counts – look to me unconvincing.
If – contrary to all my expectations – the attempt succeeds, then as night follows day I predict that Donald Trump will not accept it, and that he and the tens of millions of people who voted for him will say that he has been robbed of the White House by a corrupt Washington establishment horrified by his threat to “drain the swamp”. At that point the already existing crisis of legitimacy of the US political system – which was one reason why Trump won the election – will go nuclear.
In either case Jill Stein is going to be the loser, with people blaming her for the outcome, whatever it is.
It does not help that Jill Stein is not being honest about her intentions, and that her success in raising more money for the recounts in a few days than she was apparently able to do for her entire Presidential campaign is inevitably provoking questions about who is really behind her.
I say all this with great regret.
I am not a US citizen and I had no vote in the recent election. However I had been led to think that Jill Stein was the candidate who was closest to my own views, and I had believed her to be a serious minded person of integrity.
I began to doubt this when I saw that in the end she was only able to win in the election less than 1% of the vote – far less than even Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate.
In an election when both candidates of the two main parties were unpopular, and when Bernie Sanders had won the support of millions of people in the primaries, I had expected the main independent candidate of America’s left to do much better.
The fact that Jill Stein did as badly as she did is the clearest possible sign that she did not impress many of the people who might have been expected to consider voting for her, of whom as I know there are millions in America. I say this even though I am fully aware of the immense problems an independent candidate in a US Presidential election always has to face.
I would add that if Jill Stein really is acting on her own behalf, and that her demand for recounts is intended as some suspect as some sort of publicity gimmick, then it speaks as poorly of her political judgement as would the fact – if she is acting as someone’s stalking horse – for her lack of integrity.
In either case I am not surprised Jill Stein’s own Green Party is apparently refusing to have anything to do this with this exercise, though it seems that residual loyalty to Jill Stein is preventing it from publicly criticising her for it.
None of this is in any way to say the US electoral system is not profoundly flawed and in urgent need of reform.
Though there is a case for retaining the Electoral College, which ensures that the US President is elected by a broad cross-section of the nation, and not just by a few densely populated and wealthy regions, there can surely be no issue that the case for establishing uniform rules across the whole nation for deciding who can vote, and to require hand-counting of paper ballots, is unanswerable.
The time to raise all this and do something about it is not however now – in the immediate aftermath of a bitterly fought election with the transparent objective of denying the winner the White House – but between elections, and in good time for them.
Doing anything else is incendiary and looks like a fix, which in this case of course it is.
In the meantime Jill Stein’s conduct can only increase the cynicism many people (including me) have come to feel about the US political system, whilst reinforcing the general perception that it is controlled by shadowy insiders who have it almost completely rigged.
It was that perception which after all was one of the reasons why Donald Trump won the election. Whatever her reasons for acting as she has, it is a perception that Jill Stein has only managed to make worse.