How much more appropriate that sounds than in application to Hillary Clinton. I assume that most of us harbor the conviction that Donald Trump's presidency is illegitimate, and has been so since its inauspicious beginning. Millions more voted against Trump than voted against Hillary, first of all. The states that made the difference for him in the Electoral College were carried with very small margins. That means a whole bunch of small factors could each account for his victory individually, and they can certainly account for it collectively. There was the James Comey blunder, first of all, that sent Clinton's poll numbers plummeting like a stone right before the election. We could already envision that the Republican Party would hound Clinton relentlessly throughout her Presidency on the matter of her e-mails. It would be Bengazi II. She would not be allowed a peaceful moment. The illegitimacy of any Democratic presidency is by now a virtual plank in the Republican platform.
Then there is the matter of the votes that were not counted, and of the effects of voter suppression and the restriction of voting rights prior to the election. Consider the piling on by our oligarchs with their millions of campaign contributions going into Republican coffers. Add on the machinations of the governments of Russia and of Israel. And consider what would have happened if we had gotten to see Trump's tax returns. Would labor in the Midwest have turned out for Trump to the degree that they did? It is highly doubtful. Finally, there was the fact that in his epithet "Crooked Hillary; lock her up" Trump had already declared her illegitimacy.
Also contributing to Trump's victory was the fact that the Democratic Party put forward a flawed candidate. If we had been allowed to see Clinton's speeches before Wall Street, her candidacy would have deflated like a punctured balloon. We would have had a Bernie Sanders candidacy, which would have led a more virtuous populism on to victory. A Sanders presidency would have sidelined the neocons, and it might well have ended Netanyahu's stranglehold on American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Now I would hasten to agree with those who caution that the Democratic Party is too much engaged on a Trump focus, to the neglect of the formulation of a positive agenda going forward. I am not suggesting the declaration of illegitimacy of the Trump presidency because it would be a good tactical or strategic move. Rather, it needs to be asserted because it is true, and because it is important as a matter of principle. It is quite simply a necessity.
The present posture gives the impression that we are still waiting for the final misstep that will make Trump's illegitimacy obvious. The party appears to be still waiting for the definitive impeachable act. This status of contingency, and of implicit ambivalence, has the effect of conferring a kind of legitimacy on everything that has already happened--just because it fell short of an obvious Constitutional violation.
Everything that has happened is legitimate only if Trump's election was lawful. All the deference that is accorded the President is appropriate only if his Presidency is indeed legitimate. Such legitimacy should not be the ongoing assumption, with all of the adverse consequences resulting therefrom. Trump's Presidency has been illegitimate from Day One, and we should say so simply because that is what we really believe.