*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
After the third and final presidential debate was finished, there was righteous outrage over Donald Trump’s “suggestion” that he would not accept the results of the general election unless he won. The overriding claim was that his fascism and hubris was a clear threat to America’s democracy. That is not the case. It was a clear indication that Trump has no respect for democracy, or the American electoral process, but as a private citizen there is nothing whatsoever he can do to disrupt the regular peaceful transfer of power. He could make noise, his acolytes could talked to the streets and kill and injure people of color, and deep-red states could threaten to secede; but democracy would, in fact, remain intact.
There was a very interesting commentary in Foreign Policy regarding Trump’s “non-threat” to democracy, and one of the themes was that America has suffered far worse than a candidate not accepting an election’s results and yet democracy still survived. However, within that piece were several examples of the “far worse” and despite happening just prior to and after the Civil War, they are what many pundits and commentators fear could happen in 2016; all because Trump has inculcated in his followers that the only way he loses is if there is massive voter fraud perpetrated by “those other communities” who are going to steal the election “from us.”
Earlier this week in Ambridge Pennsylvania, Trump told his rabid supporters:
“So important that you get out and vote. So important that you watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us. We don’t want this election stolen from us. We do not want this election stolen.” […]
Later, in Wilkes-Barre he said:
“And we have to make sure we’re protected. We have to make sure the people of Philadelphia are protected that the vote counts are 100 percent. Everybody wants that, but I hear these horror shows. I hear these horror shows and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us. And everybody knows what I’m talking about.” (Author bold)
Regardless what many commentators claim, most of Trump’s supporters have swallowed his “massive voter fraud and rigged election” lies hook, line and sinker as evidence by a recent Pew Research poll. That survey found “only about one-third of Trump supporters believe their vote will be counted accurately.”
That being the case, many of Trump’s supporters heeded his call to go and “watch other communities” and are openly threatening to convene vigilante poll-watcher gangs on Election Day and “take America back” to Jim Crow. And if not outright obstruction and violence against voters in communities of color, there will be intimidation just by deign of gangs of white people gathering a polling places they have no right to interfere in.
In fact one of Trump’s Ohio supporters had no qualms proudly boasting to the Boston Globe that come Election Day, he would seek out the “Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” so he could just “go right up behind them and make them a little bit nervous.” Remember, Donald Trump did, in fact, tell his supporters to closely monitor voting booths in their own precincts before he dispersed them to “those other communities” and his bigoted acolytes plan on following his directions to the letter.
One of those supporters and conspiracy-minded Alex Jones cohort, Roger Stone, has bought in to the “rigged election” conspiracy and is “planning to send an army of Trump supporters to inner cities” under the guise of polling people of color and demand to know who they voted for. Stone is regarded as an “ultimate loyalist and will “deploy 1,300” Trump devotees to 600 different precincts in nine Democrat-leaning cities with the largest minority populations, a tactic branded as “highly irregular” by election experts who suspect those 1,300 Trump supporters could feign being pollsters “to intimidate voters” who are also predominately people of color. Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser has been warning that Hillary Clinton plans to steal the election with massive voter fraud.
Now, the purpose of this screed is not to assure Americans that democracy will survive any and everything a fascist private citizen like Donald Trump can come up with; it certainly will. But why do Americans tolerate what is certainly incitement to violence and at some point there is going to be violence. Look, any American who is standing in a long, often two-to-three hour lines to participate in democracy is highly unlikely to comport some white Trump supporter literally breathing down their neck while they are in the voting booth. No small number of officials, particularly in states, cities and “those communities” Trump is specifically targeting, are deeply concerned that Trump’s fear-mongering and incitement will ultimately result in voter intimidation. A member of the Philadelphia voting board, Lisa M. Deeley, was fearful that Trump supporters would gather at polling sites to jeer voters. Ms. Deeley said,
“It’s one thing for any candidate to say, ‘I need volunteers, come out and support my campaign. But when a candidate is saying, ‘I need your help because they’re cheating,’ it changes the game.”
It is also fascism and highly undemocratic, but that defines Donald Trump and his rabid supporters. Mr. Trump’s comments regarding the results of an upcoming election garnered outrage, shock and disbelief from world leaders who claimed not accepting an election’s results undermines the electoral process and democracy. The only thing Donald Trump is, and has been, undermining is a sense of decency and America as a society; but then that is what his supporters demand and as a dirty bigoted fascist, Donald Trump is delivering exactly what they and he wants.