The media and the politicians should be preparing the voters on why it isn’t rigged. The time for that education is now.


First published in September 2020.


I’m seeing and hearing a lot of angst lately about Joe Biden.

  • He’s not active enough on the campaign trail;
  • His surrogates aren’t being seen enough;
  • He’s not as strong on issue A or B as I’d like.

I have something for those folks to think about.

Who do you want in the Oval Office? A man with experience, common sense, and empathy? Or Donald Trump?

It truly is that phrase that’s become trite: “a binary choice.” It’s one or the other. Aren’t getting everything you want from Biden? He’s not “progressive” enough? He’s too old? Then vote for Donald Trump, if that’s what you want.

I have a Facebook friend who posted the other day, “Defeating Donald Trump is the most important political objective of my lifetime. Yet Joe Biden looks like he may not be up to the job.” He then solicited suggestions by saying: “Substantive strategies to ensure that Biden beats Trump and secures the presidency?”

I responded, “Vote.”

That’s it. Just vote. Once.

To my Trump-supporting friends, I hear you. I don’t get it but I hear you. You think he’s kept his promises. That he’s good at speaking his mind. That he’s giving the middle finger to the establishment. That he is doing something about those people who have been taking your jobs away. I understand all that.

We just disagree.

And you know something? That’s okay. That’s what this country is all about. I’m just hoping there are more of me than you. Just as you're hoping the opposite.

Is the election rigged? No, it isn’t. The President can say it every day from now to November 3, and I expect he will, but it isn’t rigged. It wasn’t rigged four years ago when he won, and it isn’t being rigged now.

People who believe in democracy don’t rig elections.

I not only don’t like most of the policies the President has adopted (and they are adopted, he doesn’t truly agree with them), I really don’t like a lot of the people in his Administration.

Forget about the Cabinet members, they sold their souls a long time ago or they got out of the Cabinet. Even the staff people. And this is personal to a degree, I’ll admit. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said this on Wednesday to a reporter asking a legitimate question which was something like: what’s the status of the health plan the President’s been promising and who’s working on it?

McEnany’s answer: “I’m not going to give you a readout of what our health care plan looks like and who’s working on it. If you want to know, come work here at the White House.”

I know it’s trite to say, but the taxpayers pay her salary. She is the spokesperson for the White House, not Donald Trump the man, but Donald Trump the President.

I know, it’s a subtle line to walk. But I can speak from some experience because I’ve walked that line. Her answer was arrogant and total BS. She either has an audience of one she’s playing to or she’s auditioning for her own show on a friendly cable network.

That, though, is not the answer to the reporter’s question. There are many other ways to say it, if she is going to even come close to telling the truth. Her problem is the truth isn’t available to her because there is no big Administration health plan being drafted or already drafted, as the President has said. (And, if there were, it needs to be passed into law.) And if there is, that Miller guy is probably drafting it along with that new coronavirus advisor who is feeding Trump his lines.

Another way to answer the question, “We have some of the world’s leading experts in our Administration and departments. They are working on it under the leadership of (and here she can make one of two choices -– an appropriate Cabinet member or, less believable in any Administration, the President).” Bingo. Answered.

But, it’s more important as a Trump re-election strategy to point the finger at the media. Simple as that. No need to sweat the details. No need to have any specifics. Just say to a reporter as McEnany did yesterday, “If you want to know, come work here at the White House.” (A three year old’s “na-na-na-na” is optional.)

Or, when she said “come work here at the White House,” the reporter maybe should have said “OK, I’ll do that. Point me to the HR department.”

McEnany is the spokesperson for the White House, not Donald Trump the man, but Donald Trump the President. | Flickr – The White House

The electorate is plenty locked in on who it’s voting for at the moment. We are truly a blue/red country. The undecideds vary depending on the poll you read but it’s safe to say that fewer than 10 percent are undecided at this juncture and it’s more likely half of that. Those are the voters being fought over basically.

They skew, from the polls I’ve seen, more women than men, more people who think the country’s off track than on track. But, as the old song goes, “but that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.” That poll is no longer operative now.

No one knows who’s going to win this election. Biden’s the betting favorite but, as we saw reinforced four years ago, it’s the Electoral College, stupid. And Trump is betting heavy on Republican states and pushing away Democratic states with his claiming the GOP did a better job than Democrats on the coronavirus. I’ll resist a snarky – “well, except for one Republican we all know who lives in the White House.” But I’ll resist.

If you watch the news, Secretaries of the State, the ultimate state official responsible for elections, whether Democrat or Republican, say their state isn’t rigged and you can tell they truly mean it.

Election officials tend to be more straightforward than other “political” people in my experience. They also usually have clearer laws and legal guidance to work from.

This election will not be rigged. I’m not sure how one would rig it, honestly.

The media and the politicians should be preparing the voters on why it isn’t rigged. The time for that education is now. We have always trusted our elections and now is no time to change that.

The President is laying out that “rigged” marker to either try to steal the election after Election Day (unlikely) or to set up an excuse as to why losing wasn’t his fault.🔷



B. Jay Cooper, former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.


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[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 19 September 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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