Gail Collins: Count those votes! Again!



Presidential recount underway. What’s your take on it?

• This is a plot to distract the country from the stupendous Election Day fraud in which millions of dead people cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.

• Is it going to get rid of Donald Trump? If it isn’t, I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. Excuse me, I’m going back to bed.

Yes, it’s true the postelection nation is still divided, this time between the folks who don’t want to believe Trump is going to be president and the ones who don’t want to hear that more people actually voted for Clinton.

But about the recount: The star of this show is Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president. On Wednesday Stein’s lawyers filed paperwork to force Michigan to recheck its vote tallies. She’s also getting a recount in Wisconsin and she’s working on Pennsylvania.

Since Stein got only 51,463 votes in Michigan to Trump’s 2,279,543, this would seem like an exercise in … um, futility? Deeply cynical minds think the real goal might just be to increase her donor database — her recount campaign has drawn more than $6 million. But Stein says she wants to demonstrate the need to reform the nation’s extremely messy voting system.

“Jill Stein is the friend who ruins your wedding but really shows up for you during the divorce,” comedian Morgan Murphy tweeted.

Stein claims most of her supporters wouldn’t have voted for anybody if the Green Party hadn’t been an option. But even if she did make a difference, she doesn’t care.

“I don’t regard one candidate as preferable to the other,” she said.

We had heard something similar from Ralph Nader, whose presence on the ballot in 2000 probably cost Al Gore Florida, and the presidency. On many of Nader’s issues, Gore was not great. But the point of the American system of democracy is that in the end, you often have to take the responsibility for choosing the better of two unlovely options. And if Gore had been elected, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Case closed.

The one positive effect of the recount, besides reassuring people who worry the Russians might be capable of hacking a massive American vote tally, is the way it reminds the nation, every day, that Donald Trump is one of the least-successful successful presidential candidates in American history.

He lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than 2 million votes. Due to our extremely strange Electoral College system, five men have gotten elected president even though more people voted for their opponent.

It’s important for our mental health to accept that the current recount isn’t going to change the election results, although it’s theoretically conceivable that additional legal challenges could make it impossible for anybody to win the necessary 270 votes when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19. That would throw the decision over to the Republican-controlled Congress, and an obscure procedure that happened once before, when John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson.

I’m bringing that up just so I can note that John Quincy Adams is the only person besides Rutherford B. Hayes who won the presidency with a worse negative percentage of the popular vote than Donald Trump. Big loser! Sad!

OK, done ranting. For today.


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