He’s the gift that keeps on giving. In the debate, Trump was asked a question that can have only one answer. His running mate had given that answer. So had daughter Ivanka. But Donald shockingly refused. He refused to say he would accept the election result.
You know it’s an extraordinary moment when a newspaper begins its debate reporting with the words, “Threatening a fundamental pillar of American democracy . . . . “
Peaceful transfer of power has been just that, a crucial element of our democratic culture. It’s the acceptance of pluralistic legitimacy – acceptance that people other than you may have a right to participate and even to exercise power. (We see, in today’s Middle East, what happens when this concept is not part of the culture.) Trump shows yet again he does not understand our democracy, does not honor it, and would wreck it.
Past presidential losers not only accepted the results, but always did so with exemplary graciousness. Even Richard Nixon, in 1960, rejected advice to challenge the close outcome, knowing that would damage the country. Even Al Gore, who many believed was cheated of the presidency in 2000, refused to pursue his claim and instead conceded in a very gracious speech.
Why did Trump say something so repellently different? He can’t think it will attract votes, to actually win the election. No, this is about after. Cynically fueling his supporters’ sense of grievance, to carry his “movement” and plague our politics for years beyond.
Previously, channeling the worst dictators, he had threatened to jail his opponent. Last night, compounding it, he said she should not even be allowed to run. That’s how things work in dictatorships (like Iran’s). They hold elections but pesky regime opponents are not allowed to run. Trump is the banana republican candidate.
His insistence that the election is being rigged against him, with massive voter fraud, is itself a massive fraud. American voting fraud is actually about as rare as people with two heads.* (And in a majority of states, elections are overseen by Republican officials.)
But the huge irony is that if the election is rigged, it is actually rigged against the Democrats. Because many Republican state legislatures – on a phony pretext of preventing nonexistent voter fraud – have enacted all sorts of restrictions, like onerous ID requirements, whose naked real aim is to prevent voting by minorities who favor Democrats.
I’m a Republican. Republicans should be trying to attract minority votes – not to suppress them. And should not be whining about election outcomes – let alone beforehand.
UPDATE: Trump now says he WILL accept the election result, on one condition: if he wins.
* True, voter rolls are filled with ineligible names – people who’ve moved away, or died, etc. But how many of them try to vote?