After America went bananas over Donald Trump’s refusal to say he’d accept the results of the presidential election, it seemed almost inevitable that he would keep saying it. When Trump says something that shakes the earth, he’s almost bound to double down. Because the only thing Trump loves almost as much as himself is attention.
And did he ever double down. It might’ve been a triple down. At a campaign rally on Thursday morning, Trump leaned in hard: “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election.” Then, in an emphatic cadence that can only be expressed in that internet-y way with extra periods, he delivered this horrifying caveat: “If. I. Win.”
That it was a punchline seemed evident from Trump’s trademark self-satisfied grin, but this was no joke. Because Trump is backed by a massive constituency whose worst instincts he both harnesses and strengthens.
In this case, that constituency is made up of some 40-odd-percent of Americans who probably thought our man Dr Ben Carson’s story about stabbing someone in the belt buckle was a charming anecdote about youthful indiscretions. In other words, Republicans.
If you’re the type of person who’s inclined to stick with Trump through everything that’s come out about him, you’re probably going to buy into his bogus claims that the election is “rigged”.
You see, the normal rules of democracy don’t apply to Donald Trump. Just as Trump doesn’t need to bother with all the traditional electoral stations of the cross – like presidential candidates releasing their tax returns – he simply doesn’t have to accept a vote from the American people he doesn’t want.
For Trump and his supporters, that leaves only one possible outcome. Trump’s line about accepting the results only if he wins smacks of a man who says of course he believes in getting consent – but only if she says yes. Of course a peaceful transition is a hallmark of our governmental system; that’s why we have to hand the White House over to Donald Trump.
This line of thinking is about as self-serving and circular as it gets. It’s high narcissism. Trump cannot lose this election. That would make him a loser, and Donald Trump is no loser. Losers are the people Trump mocks, mostly by calling them “losers”.
So it comes as no surprise that, when Trump put out a call for official “volunteer Trump Election Observers” – under the banner “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!” – his supporters began signing on. And you can bet those Trump volunteers with unnecessarily capitalized titles like “Trump Election Observers” are going to take their charge way, way too seriously.
Their willingness to perform this task is a clear result of the stakes Trump has imposed on the contest. His rhetoric is apocalyptic. And that’s how eagerness builds into a frothing at the mouth; they are ready to go out and make sure America wins by having Donald Trump win. If they have to intimidate some voters – as some fear they will – by “poll watching”, so be it. If they need to masquerade as exit pollsters in minority neighborhoods in order to do so, no big deal.
To make sure America is made great again, they must destroy what is already great about it: democracy. The whole thing has a very mobbed-up flavor; it’s a lot like a boneheaded protection racket where thugs extort so much money from a business that it’s forced to shut down, cutting off a lucrative income stream for the thugs themselves.
Nice democracy you got there, Trump and his ilk are telling the rest of us. It’d be a shame if anything happens to it ...