A few days before the election (with prescience that I find more frightening than anything else) I blogged about the potential legitimacy of a Trump minority vote victory.
I would say that it would be legally and constitutionally legitimate, but morally and politically illegitimate.
Translation: Otherwise legal (ha!) decisions he makes are to be respected and obeyed, within the constitutional framework.
But they are entitled to no moral or political deference. He speaks for the government, but not for the people, either nationally and internationally. Every political or moral choice is subject to challenge within the constitutional framework, and following its rules.
Moreover, any attempt to change the legal or practical constitutional framework would be subject to particularly strict legal and political scrutiny. An example would be any attempt to change the rules allowing the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees, which not in the constitution, are protective of its balance.
So a couple of predictably terrifying, but occasionally slightly reassuring weeks out, where are we?
Above all, it is only just starting to sink in that for the first time in the a very long time, of the last three presidents have been first selected without plurality and without majority votes. The only elections won by popular vote since 1996 are those of Obama and Bush’s reelection, which was not a selection of a president, but in effect dependent on the prior non-majority choice.
So whatever we may or may not have now, it can hardly we said to be a democracy. That underlines the lack of legitimacy described above, and puts even more importance on understanding and acting on it.
Similarly, continued emphasis on the lack of any mandate (other perhaps in a warped sort of way) to preserve the Electoral College, is critical to counter the apparently massive changes that some of Trumps again apparent allies are planning in areas such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — areas that have very broad popular support and for which not just no change, but protection was promised. Moreover, the total vote for Democrats who will be in the new Senate was greater than that for epublicans.
So, in so many substantive areas the slogan has to be “No Majority, No Mandate, No Change.”
In others, it will simply be “Keep Your Promises.” Particularly when polling indicates (as rarely) popular agreement.