About the Recount

Let me begin by saying I'm glad for the recount and would like nothing better than for it to overturn the horror of November 8th.

But it's worth considering the motivations. Jill Stein initiated the recount as a familiar Green Party action. Remember that the Green Party also demanded a recount in 2004 in Ohio, resulting in a modest deviation of 300 votes from the initial tally.
So why do it? It's not to claim Hillary Clinton as the winner, in spite of the motivations of donors holding out hope for a reversal. It's to cast doubt on our election system, to prove that voting machines were hacked or that Americans should not trust their democratic participation. This fits with Trump's unsubstantiated claims of hacking before the election and his current (equally unsubstantiated) claim that millions of undocumented people voted.

It also fits very nicely with one other person's objective: casting doubt in democratic countries on their democratic institutions. That person would like you to stop trusting in free and fair elections. He wants you also to distrust your government, to believe that both sides are corrupt, and that all of your politicians engage in secret conspiracies and work against you. He has worked quite cleverly to convince you and millions others of this point -- Americans, Brits, the French, Poles, Ukrainians and Germans.

He even hosted Jill Stein (who has given multiple interviews on Russia Today, the state-controlled English language arm of Putin's government). Like Trump himself, is Jill Stein one of Putin's "useful idiots"?
Consider her speech in Moscow during the campaign. She advocated for a more collaborative relationship with Putin, including supporting Syria's Assad. She criticized obscene military spending by both countries but went further, suggesting that Russia and the US form a united front against terrorism and other threats. That may be her position, but making the speech from Moscow, being praised by Putin, and sitting at his head table afterwards could be squirm-worthy.

What she did not do was speak out against Putin's hacking and interference in our election. Instead, she asked for criminal charges against Clinton based on the hacked emails, quoted in none other than Breitbart News.

The Clinton Campaign was slow to join the recount effort, citing no evidence of irregularities but a barrage of requests from supporters to get involved. This was a responsible position if an unpopular one. The horror of a Trump Administration merits all kinds of challenges, all of them far-fetched. I've joined in with letters to electors begging them to change their votes, with Stein's fund-raising for a recount, and with every other remotely possible challenge. I'll continue to do so.

But as David Frum (Republican editor of The Atlantic) put it recently, the best defense against a tyrant is public faith in and support of our institutions. That includes our election system, our press, our courts and the agencies that carry out the work. That doesn't mean going along with every decision, but our habit of distrusting the very institutions of our democracy is precisely what has given us a President Trump. There has been a thirty year campaign by the Republican party to discredit and attack government, beginning with Reagan's famous claim:
The most terrifying words in the English language are
'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' -- Ronald Reagan
Every time I hear someone say "they're all crooks", I worry. That is the attitude that makes us vulnerable to the appeals of tyrants. And clearly we are.

I refuse to be one of Putin's useful idiots, rejecting democratic institutions to make room for tyrants. If our election was stolen, it was by the disenfranchisement of millions of voters in a six-year GOP campaign of voter suppression. The recount won't address that. Only electing Democratic governors and legislatures at the state level will. 

While I'm willing to tip at any windmills to prevent what is ahead of us, it's the work we do for 2018 and 2020 that will matter most. And to hold out until then, we need strong institutions and Americans who uphold them.