A Trump victory is scary. A disputed loss might be scarier

Jamelle Bouie writes: Trump has no use for norms. He violates them at will, from relatively trivial transgressions such as his personal attacks on other presidential candidates (“Little Marco,” “low-energy” Jeb), to the worrying ones such as his habit of spreading conspiracy theories (e.g., the charge that Ted Cruz’s father helped assassinate John F. Kennedy), to the serious ones such as his calls for religious tests, his tolerance of white supremacists, and his exploitation (and occasional use) of explicit racism.

Trump’s contempt for norms has only gotten worse in the past few days, as he reacts to the Democratic National Convention — and his subsequent collapse in the polls — with rage and anger. And on Monday, he crossed one of the brightest lines in American politics, the one that deals directly with our tradition of peaceful transfer of power.

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” he said to a crowd in Columbus, Ohio. He followed up on this in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I’m telling you, November 8th, we’d better be careful because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.”

This was in line with comments from Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump. In a recent interview with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, Stone said that Trump should start talking “constantly” about the chance of voter fraud and a rigged election. “He needs to say for example, today would be a perfect example: ‘I am leading in Florida. The polls all show it. If I lose Florida, we will know that there’s voter fraud.’ ” Stone continued in this vein. “ ‘If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.’ ”

From here, Stone’s language gets ominous. “If you can’t have an honest election, nothing else counts,” he said. “The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it,” Stone said, promising a “bloodbath” of “civil disobedience.” [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “A Trump victory is scary. A disputed loss might be scarier

  1. hquain

    | …. promising a “bloodbath” of “civil disobedience.”

    Of course the reason the threat is plausible is that the Trump section of the electorate can be assumed to be especially well-armed.

    Guns intimidate. I’ve see little discussion of the fact that right wing elements in the political apparatus have been especially keen to ensure that their supporters have access to weaponry. In another country, this would be immediately parsed as intimidation. In the US, it’s regarded an aspect of the country’s unique nobility and blessedness. Until, as with the rise of Trump, it becomes useful to be a bit clearer about what’s meant.

  2. Paul Woodward

    As far as the level of threat posed by Trump’s armed supporters goes, it certainly seems real and alarming in the event that Trump loses the election by a small margin. In that situation, he’s bound to call foul and insist (as he already does) that the election was rigged.

    My hope is not simply that he loses but that he suffers a crushing defeat. If the election result actually renders Trump speechless, I think it will largely have the same effect on his followers. Americans after all (as Trump knows well) don’t like losers.

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