Hillary: You can run the best campaign and still have the election stolen from you

Conversely, you can run a terrible campaign in which you call your opponent’s supporters “deplorable” and so neglect white working-class voters that you don’t bother stumping in Wisconsin and end up losing because you deserved to. True story.

Is Hillary giving us her take on her own election there or is she giving us the Democratic Party’s new take on all elections in which they lose? Don’t be so sure it’s the former.

Anyway, we needn’t rehash this again. By now it should suffice to say that if anyone “stole” the election from Clinton it wasn’t Putin and the Russian troll farm but James Comey, running down leads to the bitter end generated by her own malfeasance as Secretary of State. He’s claimed in interviews that he had no rooting interest in the election, feeling that partisanship would have been a bad look for the director of the FBI, but he acknowledges that he expected Clinton to win and admits that his certainty about that probably did influence his decisions on some level. That is, he may have released the last-minute letter about reopening the Emailgate probe only because he believed it couldn’t possibly impede her inevitable victory. If Comey was a “thief,” he was an unwitting one.

It’s ironic that she’s nudging her party to question the legitimacy of Republican victories today, though, since the NYT reported less than 24 hours ago that Nancy Pelosi’s worried about Trump pulling the same move next November:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe President Trump can be removed through impeachment — the only way to do it, she said this week, is to defeat him in 2020 by a margin so “big” he cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory…

“We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Ms. Pelosi said during an interview at the Capitol on Wednesday as she discussed her concern that Mr. Trump would not give up power voluntarily if he lost re-election by a slim margin next year

In recent weeks Ms. Pelosi has told associates that she does not automatically trust the president to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat. That view, fed by Mr. Trump’s repeated and unsubstantiated claims of Democratic voter fraud, is one of the reasons she says it is imperative not to play into the president’s hands, especially on impeachment.

Trump will question the outcome of next year’s election if he loses no matter what the margin is. He’d be more likely to delegitimize a close race, certainly, but a lopsided loss will also be delegitimized on grounds of sheer improbability. (“It’s impossible for an incumbent to lose by that much. Something was rigged!”) The guy finds losing so intolerable that he cheats at golf; imagine how intolerable he’d find losing a national popularity contest. The best-case scenario is him allowing that the Democratic nominee got more votes but insisting that that’s still illegitimate and basically rigged on account of the Fake News Media’s extreme favoritism towards the left.

He’s not going to try to cling to power after a defeat, though. There aren’t enough people around him who’d support him in that. Stepping down while shouting “rigged!” all the way might actually be an enjoyable way for him to leave, as then he wouldn’t need to worry about this thankless job anymore and could go back to the high life insisting that he’d never been fairly defeated. But never mind him. What about Democrats? What’s their excuse going to be if Trump knocks them out again next year, a scenario that’s at least as likely as not given the state of the economy? Will it be voter suppression, a la Stacey Abrams? Or will it be the claim that Russia or some other foreign power must have intervened below the radar again and Trump and his corrupt DOJ minions are suppressing that fact? Amy Klobuchar’s already dropping hints about that and was called out for doing so this morning by Jake Tapper on CNN. The bases of the two major parties despise each other so intensely in 2019 that it would grieve them on an almost spiritual level to believe that a majority of Americans might sincerely prefer the other side to their own. There’s not going to be a consensus “fair and square” outcome in 2020, period.