The System Has Failed and a Con Artist Has Won

“This guy is a con artist. He’s always making things up. No one holds him accountable for it.” —Marco Rubio

“It’s called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine.” —House of Games

Presidential inaugurations are occasion for repeating certain pieties. As Thanksgiving is to gratitude, and New Year’s for hope, the quadrennial 20th of January is for paeans to the peaceful transfer of power. But ’s inauguration is not evidence the system worked. Trump is president because the system failed.

Barack Obama governed wisely and honestly, and presided over peace and prosperity, and was rewarded with an approval rating of 60 percent. He is being replaced by a swindler who has been consistently opposed by a clear majority of the public. This happened because of a combination of oddities and systemic abuses: an Electoral College system that allows the second-place candidate to win if his supporters happen to be distributed more optimally; the dramatic intervention of the FBI on behalf of the Republican challenger; the Twenty-second Amendment, which prevents the popular incumbent from running again. All these factors in combination have produced a dramatic transfer of power from a president who has the support of a clear majority of the country to one who does not.

Conservatives have made a series of attempts to convey democratic legitimacy upon Trump by depicting him as a tribune of the People rather than the elites. “Progressives are doing Mr. Trump the great favor of displaying their contempt for not only him but his voters,” writes conservative apparatchik Heather Higgins in The Wall Street Journal, in a typical example of this kind of doggerel. “That will make it easier for him to be the People’s President. The more successful he is, the more the left will try to distract with attacks on him and his legitimacy.”



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