Trump signals to supporters how to react if Biden wins
President Donald Trump’s refusal on Wednesday to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden in November is leading America towards a dark place during a year of incendiary political tensions.
Trump’s intransigence, included in his latest assault on perfectly legitimate mail-in ballots on Wednesday, posed a grave threat to the democratic continuum that has underpinned nearly 250 years of republican government.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster,” Trump said, when asked if he could commit to the peaceful transition.
“(G)et rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very … there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”
The President’s comments risked not only dealing another blow to an election in which he has been trailing and has incessantly tarnished, but could send a signal to his supporters about how to react if the Democratic nominee prevails in 41 days. That possibility is especially dangerous given this past summer’s racial and social unrest — which burst forth again on Wednesday evening after police said two officers were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, amid protests about the failure to charge officers in the death of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman.
Trump’s near simultaneous warning on Wednesday that he thinks the election will end up being decided by the Supreme Court also raises the risk of a constitutional imbroglio likely to be worse than the disputed 2000 election.
His rhetoric escalated as he yet again politicized the effort to quell the pandemic by threatening to override regulators on the question of whether a newly developed vaccine would be safe in a highly irregular move. Taken together, his anti-democratic instincts and prioritization of his own political goals amid a national emergency show he plans to allow nothing — not the health of Americans, the sanctity of US elections or the reputation of the Supreme Court — to prevent him from winning a second term.