Trump is still laying the groundwork for a fight in case he loses the election in November
Even if Donald Trump loses the election in November, it seems that our national nightmare will be far from over. The president has been laying the groundwork for months — if not years — to make the case that our election system has failed, the results are compromised, and the winner can’t be decided. And then, scholars and analysts say, Trump may not only refuse to give up the White House, but may actually use powers he has as president to hold onto it illegitimately.
To anyone who thinks this sounds like fear mongering, and a situation so extreme it could never happen in the country with the oldest democracy on Earth, well, Trump is telling us himself.
When he was asked recently by a reporter whether he would commit to a “peaceful transferal of power” if he lost the election, Trump’s response was, “We’re going to have to see what happens.”
Trump pointed to mail-in ballots as the reason for questioning the election’s validity.
“Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” he said. “There will be a continuation.”
Trump himself is a mail-in voter. But he’s spent months ahead of this election attacking the validity of voting by mail, which is the safest way for Americans to cast their ballots this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mail-in voting is safe and carries no more risk of fraud than in-person voting.
This isn’t the first time that the president has openly admitted that he won’t accept the results of an election he doesn’t win. During the third presidential debate in 2016, when asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would respect the election results, Trump answered, “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. Okay?”
Just this past July, Trump reiterated that sentiment in an interview with Fox News.
“I have to see,” he said. “Look, you—I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.”
At a rally during his 2016 campaign, Trump told his supporters exactly what needs to happen in order for him to accept the results of an election.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election,” he said, then paused and pointed a finger in the air as he added, “If … I … win!”
This isn’t a scary hypothetical. This is real. Trump is promising us that no matter who the people vote for, he will use whatever tool he can find to hold onto power. Our best defense against that? Delivering a decisive and unquestionable win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.