Some kids lose a game, and challenge their victorious opponents for a rematch. Some pout, take the ball, and go home. Some try to start a fight. And then there’s that big orange haired kid with the rich dad and the bad attitude. Near the end of a game of HORSE – down HORS to H – he declares that the girl who’s beating him is cheating, and that he’s gonna refuse to leave the court if she wins. He’ll sit on the ball under the basket and demand she admit defeat. And then all the other kids are wondering what to do if he does.
I have two quick points about Donald Trump suggesting he may not concede if he loses the election:
1. From a legal perspective, it doesn’t matter. Theoretically, he could tie things up in court with recounts for a while, but it would have to be on a state-by-state basis. And based on current projections (and where he stands in each state), there would have to be recounts in a lot of states to make any difference. This would require an extensive ground campaign apparatus (which he doesn’t have), and a lot of patience (which he doesn’t have). And of course, there is fairly recent legal precedent (albeit grossly flawed) for the Supreme Court to order a halt to recounts in much closer circumstances.
And if he doesn’t demand a recount, and just instead refuses to concede, then the process will proceed without him. The electors will meet, and cast their votes, and Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as the 45th president. All Trump would do in that circumstance is look like a jackass.
Except there’s a bit more to it. Which leads me to my second point.
2. His rhetoric isn’t legally dangerous as much as it is literally dangerous. Donald Trump has already incited violence among his supporters. He has made thinly veiled threats toward Hillary Clinton, suggesting both legal measures, as well as violent ones. Beyond the fact that all of his bombast is grossly disqualifying, it’s also theoretically hazardous to American lives.
Donald Trump has already planted that seed in the minds of many supporters. There have been more than one Trump voter who has stated in interviews that armed insurrection is not just possible, but just.
Trump constantly beats the drums of corruption, claiming over and over that the upcoming election will be “rigged.” This follows in the footsteps of his party, of which many have argued for years the largely debunked dangers of electoral fraud. And this not-so-subtle suggestion seems to have worked wonders. Millions of Americans are convinced the election is rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. Never mind how unlikely and difficult that would be. Never mind the complete lack of historical precedent. Never mind the fact that recent polls show Trump trailing Clinton by a considerable margin.
If someone with some charisma repeats the same thing to a large enough crowd, eventually, some of them will believe it.
And many of them are already convinced that, any day now, Obama’s gonna take their guns.
Clock’s ticking on that one, fellas.
But the feelings are significant. And Trump stokes them well.
It has been argued that widespread violence isn’t likely to materialize. There are only so many people out there who are genuinely interested in bringing the Turner Diaries to life.
But it has happened. Remember Tim McVeigh?
It’s quite possible that Donald Trump has no interest in fomenting rebellion. A businessman with his hands in many industries doesn’t want the kind of instability caused by political violence. But as long as he keeps telling frightened, disillusioned, often-armed people that everything they believe in is threatened by a corrupt, criminally-inclined devil woman, the possibility exists of something stupid happening.
And if it does, at least part of the blame lies with the person riling up the masses.