Here’s an exchange between White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and a reporter during the daily press briefing on Wednesday afternoon:
Reporter: “Is the President saying if he doesn’t win this election that he will not accept the results unless he wins?”
McEnany: “The President has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath.”
So I guess the subtle hinting that President Donald Trump reserves the right to take issue with a result in which he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden is pretty much over, then?
McEnany’s response is as clear as a day: If Trump loses, don’t expect him to concede or admit he lost.
This follows a series of statements and tweets from the President himself over the past few weeks and months in which he had tried to suggest that any reliance on mail-in balloting in this election would produce a less-than-accurate result.
“Mail-In Voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History! #RIGGEDELECTION,” he tweeted in late July.
And this one earlier this week:
“Some states use ‘drop boxes’ for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to ‘collect’ the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!”
(Worth noting here: There is simply no evidence to back up Trump’s claims that mail-in balloting is rife with fraud.)
Trump’s insistence that the election is somehow being rigged against him has increased in urgency as it’s become more and more obvious that he is an underdog to win a second term.
That’s, obviously, no coincidence. Trump has spent a lifetime projecting an air of invincibility, a narrative of winning, winning, winning. When faced with polling that suggests he isn’t winning, he makes up excuses as to why. Excuses that always have to do with some unnamed “them” who are out to get him.
While it’s not ideal behavior for an adult to exhibit, when we are talking about ratings for Trump’s reality show or some business bet he was on the wrong side of, the consequences aren’t that terrible.
But when we are talking about the health and strength of our democracy, then what Trump is doing is catastrophically dangerous for all of us.
The Point: If Trump refuses to concede or admit defeat – if such a defeat is clear – it will undermine the peaceful transition of power that America has long prided itself on. And create a next four years even more polarized and awful than the last four years.