In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross created a framework of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While her book was essentially about grieving the loss of human life, it could also apply to the loss of a marriage, a pet or even an election.
Denial was exemplified by Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta telling her supporters late on election night that "there are a lot more votes to be counted," as the reason why she did not come to speak to the crowd even though President Obama simultaneously urged her to concede. Anger was demonstrated by the violent protests that broke-out in major American cities over the subsequent days. Now the talk of vote recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (states formerly known as part of Clinton's "Blue Wall" that the Democrats never imagined losing to Trump, but did) are what might be described as the Bargaining phase of grieving. We need to take a second look at the votes in these states to make sure that they are legitimate.
The problem for the Green Party and its presidential nominee Jill Stein, now that they quickly raised millions of dollars late last week for those recounts, is that people expect them to actually move forward and do them. But that is no sure thing.
What the Green Party and Stein may have done was inadvertently shoot themselves in their feet.
In Pennsylvania, one cannot simply demand a vote recount and fork over a pile of cash to have it done. The Green Party and Stein (who were joined in the recall effort over the weekend by the DNC and Clinton campaign) must show evidence of voter fraud. A judge will then decide whether a Pennsylvania recount is warranted. And since Stein already acknowledged that there is no evidence of voter fraud, the effort is likely to hit a brick wall right there because even if flagrant, out-of-control voter fraud were discovered in Wisconsin and Michigan, it won't be worth a hill of beans if they are shut out from doing a recount in Pennsylvania.
The Green Party and Stein originally set a fundraising goal of $2.5 million, which was raised to $7 million once the original goal was quickly surpassed. But that also raises expectations that recounts will be done. If they are not done, donors may be disillusioned to learn that their money will not be refunded to them, but instead go to other voter confidence initiatives. Stein's website says: "We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in WI and MI and support the voter-initiated effort in PA."
By rooking donors out of millions of dollars, and not delivering those recounts, if that is what eventually happens, the Green Party will do more harm to itself than it ever imagined. That is when the fourth stage of grieving, Depression, will sink in for many.
While the Green Party and Libertarian Party, which nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary "And what is Aleppo?" Johnson, have plenty of worthwhile positions for people to embrace, here are some sobering thoughts:
In Pennsylvania, Trump beat Clinton by 68,236 votes. Together, Stein and Johnson siphoned 191,565 votes.
In Wisconsin, Trump beat Clinton by 27,257 votes. In that state, Stein and Johnson got a combined 137,422 votes.
In Michigan, Trump beat Clinton by 11,612 votes. Stein and Johnson collectively raked in 223,757 votes.
Talk about depressing for the Anyone-But-Trump crowd! Trump is going to have the power of incumbency and Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. Then again, so did Barack Obama in 2008, so things do tend to even out eventually.
The weeks between now and Trump's inauguration will no doubt see people slipping back and forth between the Anger and Depression phrases, and perhaps by late January they will acquiesce to Acceptance, because there is simply nowhere else for them to go.
By then, spring will be around the corner. We will get the hour of daylight back. And the 2018 mid-term elections will be not all that far off. The problem for those with 2016 "election regret" is that, Congressional redistricting being what it is, the Democrat presence on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the country is likely to get weaker before it gets stronger.
The good news is that this might finally get people to start taking their votes, the candidates and the issues more seriously, and to spend less time blindly trusting what they see in political polls, the mainstream media and on social media. The candidates will, no doubt, continue to take all of us for granted.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a contributor to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640 and Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport)