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The Rights of the Election Losers

By its very nature democracy is an adversarial system of government. People compete with each other for the right to exercise power authorized by the electorate. Elections legitimize the use of power. People who vote for the winning candidate feel good and never hesitate to let everyone know. The people who voted for the losing candidate feel lousy and do a fair amount of complaining. It’s the way of democracy.

However, it doesn’t take long for the winners to grow weary of the losers complaining and start demanding they stop their bitching and accept the outcome of the election. It’s not uncommon to declare that the complaining indicates a lack of patriotism and the unwillingness to accept the outcome of a legitimate electoral process. Neither is necessarily true, but the important thing to remember in this tug of war is that we all, including the losers, have particular rights in a democracy.

If you lose the election you have not also lost the right to complain, organize, protest, and even participate in acts of civil disobedience. If you have lost those rights you are no longer living in a democracy and may be living under an authoritarian system of government. In a democracy you can complain all the way to the next election if you want. It’s your right. It will get old and perhaps distract you from doing something more fruitful, but it’s your right.

Losing an election does not mean you have to accept the results and the subsequent policies. In a democracy you have the right to argue for the position you believe better serves the common good. To do so is not claiming the election should be ignored, invalidated, or is in some way illegitimate.

Therefore, losing the election does not give you the right to dismiss the election if, indeed, the process was legitimate. You can accept the legitimacy of the election and at the same time not accept the results. It is the loser’s responsibility to accept the legitimacy of the election, but this does not mean you cannot complain, organize, protest, and practice civil disobedience.

To accept of the outcome of the election and to protest against the newly elected official, administration and/or government is a legitimate position to hold in a democracy. Admittedly, it means living in a state of political tension, but it is legitimate.

So, I accept that the US election completed on November 8th was fair, legal, and thus legitimate, which means I accept that Donald Trump will be the next president and that the Republican Party will control all aspects of the federal government. To say I accept these facts is not to say I approve. I do not. In fact I’m appalled. I feel I must be hallucinating of that I have slipped into a surreal alternative reality. Therefore, while I accept the election was legitimate, I also claim my rights to complain, at least for a while, to organize against elected officials and the government, and to protest. If you are on the winning side of this election and demand I cease, then I suggest you read up on the what democracy is all about (and remember what the GOP has been doing for the last eight years).

I must confess, I do not look forward to the struggle. The process of normalizing Donald Trump, perhaps the worse president elect the nation has ever known, is already underway (see Respect President Trump? Forget it!). As such a significant part of resistance this time around is remembering and reminding. People won’t want to be reminded of who their president actually is, but forgetting is not an option. We have to acknowledge that this is already an up-mountain battle. For example, when you have to make the argument that grabbing a woman or girl’s pussy is a violation of her rights and dignity, you are already way behind the game.

So don’t forget the president elect has argued for the proliferation of nuclear weapons, publicly mocked disabled people, accepted the supports of the KKK (indirectly), stigmatized Muslims and Mexicans, abused women, knows nothing about foreign affairs, has white supremacists in his inner circle, and lies with an ease and frequency that is unsettling. Welcome to the United States of America.

Copyright © 2016 Dale Rominger

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