Thursday, October 20, 2016

Donald Trump and the Attempt to Dismantle American Democracy: "Running Against Our Democracy Itself"

Commentary on the "revelation" (not a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention) from last night's debates, that Donald Trump and his supporters and the political party that has put him forward want to dismantle the American democratic system as it is now configured: 

Trump's stunning refusal tonight to accept the outcome of the people's vote in the election is a rejection of U.S. democracy itself.

"I’ll look at it at the time," he said about the election results. "What I've seen is so bad. The media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing." 
With that, Donald Trump threatened to dismantle the very foundation upon which the United States was founded.

Trump's words were, indeed, appalling. 
And, by every historic and contemporary measure, disqualifying.

By denying that he would accept the results of this election in a presidential debate, Donald Trump delivered perhaps the final insult to our democracy in his disgraceful campaign. The only saving grace is that a true constitutional crisis would require that the election results be close. But less than three weeks from Election Day, he has offered the latest example of why he is deeply unfit to be president of the United States. He has no interest in uniting the nation. 
Donald Trump is one of those folks who want to ruin if they cannot rule. In a school yard, he'd be called a spoiled brat. In politics, he’s a dangerous demagogue with a dictatorial streak.

Donald Trump no longer seems to be trying to become the elected commander in chief of the United States. Instead, he appears bent on becoming the leader of a zombie army that can destroy the Republican Party—and perhaps undermine American democracy.

Speaking to Maddow and Williams, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said that Trump's comments were a "clear and present danger to our constitutional order" and were "unprecedented in the history of the country."

There are millions of them. Many are fanatically devoted to him. Many believe that Trump is headed for a landslide victory, because that is what he is telling them. Many believe, just as Trump said during the debate, that Hillary Clinton should legally not be allowed to be president because she’s committed a crime. Many believe that Clinton and her campaign are colluding with nonwhites to rig the election. 
All it takes is a few people to cause massive violence and instability. Even if only a few Trump supporters are die-hard enough to try to launch a coup on a Clinton presidency, or to take out their anger on people who look like unauthorized immigrants, there are more than a few Trump supporters in America. There are handfuls and handfuls.

He's no longer running against Hillary Clinton. He's running against our democracy itself. . . .  
We're at a point in this country where the fabric of our society could unravel more than it already has. But not because of a war or a depression. No, we might see disorder and violence because Donald Trump—the businessman turned reality TV star turned nativist politician—is unable to admit failure. Unable to say that he lost.

But the role of the losing candidate in a democratic system is to be the example for those supporters when the election doesn't go as planned. The candidate accepts defeat, and the candidate tells his or her supporters that that defeat was a legitimate expression of the people's will. Concession is the losing candidate’s responsibility in a healthy democratic system. 
Trump seems intent on blowing all this up. He’s attacking the legitimacy of the process and stating in plain terms that his opponent is an illegitimate candidate. A Trump supporter who feels the election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton might have to be overthrown needs to be nudged back from the edge. Trump, with all the influence he wields, is instead coming up behind those people and urging them to leap into a very dark abyss.

At the heart of Donald Trump's talk of a "rigged" election lies one incontrovertible fact that eats away at him: He is getting his butt kicked by a girl.

(Please see the following posting, which continues the argument of this one, with commentary on the historical roots of Trump's and his supporters' attempt to dismantle American democracy.)

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