Stirring it up

And then there’s the whole fomenting a fascist uprising problem. Jamelle Bouie points out that he’s been mouthing off about “a rigged election” and “voter fraud” for months.

Trump first told his supporters of this conspiracy theory at an Ohio rally in August and followed up the claim in an interview with Sean Hannity: “I’m telling you, Nov. 8, 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 his surrogates, like longtime adviser Roger Stone, who told Breitbart that Trump would begin to talk “constantly” about voter fraud. “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: “‘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.'” The implication is clear: If Trump loses, he should foment this “civil disobedience.” And he should start preparing his supporters for it now. He seems to be doing just that.

It’s quite extraordinary, this claim that the only way Trump can lose the election is if there is voter fraud – that it’s impossible that most people reject him because he’s a malevolent piece of shit.

Now that he’s behind, Trump has returned to questioning the legitimacy of the election. More critically, the idea that he would respect the results of the election, full stop, ignores the hatred that’s come to characterize Trump’s campaign, the violence he’s condoned against protesters and other vocal opponents, the virulent prejudice he’s brought to mainstream politics, and the apocalypticism of his message, where he stands as the final hope for an embattled minority of resentful whites. These rhetorical time bombs, in other words, could be the catalyst for actual intimidation and violence, before and after Election Day. And if that violence and intimidation strikes, it will be against the chief targets of Trump’s campaign: people of color.

A friend of mine saw a bunch of Trump protesters marching around in a circle today. They were all armed.

Trump’s anti-democratic conspiracy mongering is unprecedented in modern elections. And we can begin to guess at the consequences of this rhetoric. Angry people, stirred by demagoguery and convinced they’ve been robbed of their rightful power, are a real threat to the already-frayed fabric of our democracy. Donald Trump thinks the election is rigged. He says we need to watch “areas.” Despite what he said at the debate, he’s also said that, should he lose, he doesn’t know that he will concede: “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.”

And if he doesn’t? If he loses and pushes his base to reject the outcome? Then we could see protests, we could see mobs — we could even see violence, all directed against the people supposedly stealing the election. It wouldn’t be the first time.

It’s worrying.

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