Quick to Listen/Episode 32 | 32 min

Does America’s History Justify Rigged Election Fears?

What the United States’ past suggests about cynicism towards voting, the economy, and the criminal justice system—and what seeking the common good looks like in this context.
Does America’s History Justify Rigged Election Fears?

Two weeks from today, Election Day will be over. But will we have a president?

Yes. Well, maybe not.

“I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense,” GOP candidate Donald Trump said at the last presidential debate after the moderator asked if he would accept the election results.

Trump’s suspicion towards the system reflects the views of 4 in 10 Americans who agreed that the election could be “stolen” from him as a result of voter fraud.

This is but one area in which American democratic institutions have come into question. In recent years, law enforcement and the criminal justice system have been increasingly accused of racism and racial bias, while former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders accused the country’s economy of being “rigged.”

Some of the other rigged accusations may have merit, says Elesha Coffman, an assistant professor of history at Baylor University. But applying this term to the United States’ elections is “horrifying.”

“It is unprecedented to say, ‘I don’t know, I’ll keep you in suspense,’” said Coffman. “It was profoundly undemocratic and profoundly destabilizing, and you really wonder if and when Trump goes down … what all is he taking down with him.”

Coffman joins Mark and Morgan on Quick to Listen to discuss whether the Gilded Age should be seen as an aberration or norm, the problem with trying to use the criminal justice system to make a point, and whether gerrymandering leads to accusations of rigged elections.

Additional Reading

Religion in American History

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Does America’s History Justify Rigged Election Fears?