Trump makes 'rigged' the new normal

My fellow Americans, brace yourselves … for a RIGGEDruption.

That's right, the current "it" word on the presidential campaign trail and on social media, cable news shows and talk radio is "rigged."

Rigged, rigged, rigged.

The presidential election is rigged. The polls are rigged. The voting machines are rigged.

I'm pretty sure this column is rigged and, if we're being honest, I think the word "rigged" might be rigged. Something about that term just doesn't seem right.

Rigged makes an appearance every presidential election, and you hear it bandied about by Republicans and Democrats, usually more by whichever side is losing.

But this year is different. This year, the gods of hyperbole blessed us with one Donald J. Trump, perhaps the only presidential candidate who could take the usual dull murmur of "rigged" and turn it into a primal scream.

Almost every other word out of Trump's mouth these days starts with "r" and ends with "ed" and has an "igg" in the middle. A member of the highly rigged media might note an inverse relationship between Trump's poll numbers and the frequency with which he uses "rigged," but surely that's coincidental and his lone concern is the integrity of our electoral process.

Speaking of which, it's totally rigged. Haven't you heard?

Listening to Rush Limbaugh's radio show Tuesday as an act of self-flagellation, I heard several callers describe acts of voter fraud they had sort-of witnessed and could kind of describe with great uncertainty.

One caller said: "I was just waiting in line and then all of a sudden this mother-daughter with her family became — she's like, 'There's a problem.' … And what ended up happening is that she said, 'Well, when my daughter went to vote for the president, you know she went straight ticket, but then she went to go for Trump, his name was gone off the straight ticket.' "

Well, that's all the evidence I need. RIGGED!

Such sightings weren't limited to Republicans. A liberal radio program, the Norman Goldman Show, had a caller Tuesday recounting how someone he knew told him about an early vote for Hillary Clinton being somehow wiped out on a voting machine.

Riggedy-diggedy-doo!

Trump adviser Roger Stone has created a nonprofit group called Stop the Steal and plans on sending volunteers out to take independent exit polls to see if the real exit polls are accurate. According to Politico: "The aim, Stone explained, was to produce 'solid evidence' of a rigged election that the Trump campaign could use in court."

And why not? Rigging is in the air, and the conspiracies will only propagate between now and Election Day since there's no reason to doubt that voter fraud is rampant, aside from:

• a decentralized voting system with thousands of different electoral jurisdictions that use voting systems and rules that vary state by state

• Democratic and Republican monitors at polling places, along with paper records at most sites to back up any computerized counts

• fines of up to $10,000 and five years in prison for violating election laws

• a slew of research that has found voter fraud to be close to non-existent, including a study by a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles that found only 31 incidents of voter fraud out of more than 1 billion ballots cast from 2000 to 2014

• This, from a recent Slate article by Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine's School of Law: "To vote five, 10, or 15 times one would have to either register five, 10, or 15 times in different jurisdictions or with false names or go five, 10, or 15 times to polling places claiming to be someone else whose name is on the voter rolls, in the hopes that this person has not already voted and you would not get caught. And to do this on a scale for a presidential election, in a place such as Pennsylvania with millions of voters, you would need to pay tens of thousands of people, all without any way of verifying how they voted."

All those "facts" sound pretty rigged to me. Trump himself, at a Tuesday rally in Florida, said of fact-checkers: "What a group of dishonest scum we have, I'm telling you."

No way intelligent Americans are going to listen to scum fact-checkers or scummy facts or let anything get in the way of their riggedemonium.

So here's what's going to happen: Over the next two weeks, we're going to hear an endless stream of anecdotes about vote-rigging, then we're going to have an "election" that will be rigged, then the rigged vote-counting will end and we'll be given the name of the new sham-president.

Everyone on the losing side will shout, in unison, "RIGGED!"

The new president will be seen as illegitimate, investigations into any voting irregularities will be conducted, those investigations will show no measurable voter fraud (because there isn't any), and then all the people who shouted "RIGGED!" right after the election will come together and declare that the investigations were … say it with me now … rigged.

And on and on we'll go until the next rigged election rolls around.

Because that, apparently, is where we are as a country.

Enthralled by the intrigue of widespread fraud. Convinced that our vote only counts if the person we vote for wins. And dumbed down by those who cast aspersions on facts and, when victory starts slipping, lie to the masses and say the fix is in.

rhuppke@chicagotribune.com

Listen to Rex Huppke and WGN radio host Amy Guth discuss presidential politics each week on the “Guth and Huppke on Politics” podcast at chicagotribune.com/guthhuppkepodcast.

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