❝ Donald Trump has said and done a lot of outlandish things while running to be president of the United States, but perhaps none as dangerous as this. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” the Republican nominee told supporters at a Monday rally in Columbus, Ohio. Appearing on Fox News later that night, Trump elaborated in his usual evidence-free way…
❝ Trump, of course, is no stranger to making fact-free assertions and spreading conspiracy theories for his own political and personal benefit. He laid the groundwork for his current presidential campaign by beating the Birther drum for years, and more recently hinted that President Obama was an ISIS sympathizer and suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of JFK. Spreading those falsehoods — as well as a whole host of others about Hispanics, blacks, and Muslims — has done an unquantifiable amount of damage to the nation’s political discourse. His suggestion that the 2016 election will be illegitimate, though, could do damage to the republic itself.
❝ Trump’s latest allegation is, in the words of the usually staid Associated Press, an “unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate,” one that could “threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.” Trump has laid the groundwork for only two possible outcomes in the eyes of his most passionate supporters: He wins the presidency, or he has it stolen from him…
❝ This is not the first time Team Trump has suggested that violence would occur if a “rigged” system prevented their man from getting his way…At this point it should be clear these are not off-hand comments; this is a political strategy.
The worst, though, doesn’t need to happen for Trump’s “rigged” narrative to do lasting damage to American democracy. Even if we set aside the prospect of widespread violence from his supporters, Trump’s comments risk delegitimizing a Clinton victory — and as result, an ensuing Clinton presidency — in the eyes of many Americans…Until now, the greatest dangers posed by Trump were predicated on him winning this November. Now he’s dangerous even if he loses.
True Believers cannot accept rejection. No matter how outlandish, unfounded, demented and bigoted their ideology, the demagogue and his loyal-to-the-death followers must find a conspiracy as root to their defeat.
Last night, I watched a moment with a journalist interviewing a Trumpkin at some rally or other. Asked if there was anything that might turn him away from voting for Trump, his reply was, “I suppose I’d have to reconsider if he murdered someone.”
Then he added, “It would depend, of course, on who he murdered.”