Saturday, October 22, 2016

What if Trump never concedes?

Here are a couple of stories that look at what might happen after Nov. 8 - and a commentary by Hillary Clinton.

The Chicago Tribune reports on the Clinton campaign push for a large victory and thus a mandate. If they get it, the hope is that the numbers will blunt Trump's attack on our electoral system and invalidate his claims about massive voter fraud. Snippets follow.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is increasingly preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump may never concede the presidential election should she win, a development that could enormously complicate the crucial early weeks of her preparations to take office.

Aiming to undermine any argument the Republican nominee may make about a "rigged" election, she hopes to roll up a large electoral vote margin in next month's election. That could repudiate the New York billionaire's message and project a governing mandate after the bitter, divisive presidential race.

Clinton's campaign is making a significant push in Arizona, which offers 11 electoral votes and has stayed in the Republican column in all but one presidential election since 1952. Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry the state, in 1996.

First lady Michelle Obama courted voters in Phoenix on Thursday, following appearances by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea Clinton. The campaign is spending $2 million in advertising and toying with sending Clinton herself there before Election Day.

A refusal by Trump to accept the election results would not only upend a basic tenet of American democracy, but also force Clinton to create a new playbook for handling the transfer of power. And a narrow victory would make it more difficult for her to claim substantial political capital at the start of her administration.

"Donald is still going to whine if he loses. But if the mandate is clear, I don't think many people will follow him," said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton's running mate, in an interview Thursday with CNN's "New Day."

I really hope that Kaine is right. But there is another future, a much darker and dangerous possible future explored by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, Trump supporters are talking about civil war. Could a loss provide the spark?

... I spent a couple of hours before the [Colorado Springs] rally in this indoor show ring talking to many Trump supporters and found them in states of denial and fury. I didn’t find one who expects Trump to lose. To varying degrees, most agreed with Trump that the election process is rigged. And some predicted ominous things if Trump loses — if not violence, a mass rejection of the legitimacy of the democratic process.

[A Trump supporter], wearing a “Les Deplorables” T-shirt and pin, told me the election won’t end anything. “The movement’s starting. Even if he doesn’t win, it’s gonna tip,” he said.

But tip into what? “I sincerely hope people don’t lose their minds,” [he] said.

If they manage to keep their cool, it will be despite the best efforts of Trump.

Then there's another view.

... what happens if Clinton is declared the winner? [Another Trump supporter:]“Donald Trump is going to holler fraud if he doesn’t win,” ... “I think we’re on the verge of a civil war, a racial war. This could be the spark that sets it off.”

Now you can argue that these are just a few of Trump's supporters and a fringe element. But these are the kinds of attitudes that Trump has stirred up and legitimized - even while he is trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Let's hope that those attitudes do not translate into behavior.

Let's let Hillary Clinton have the last word[s] on this via the story in the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton Says Peaceful Transitions Key to Democracies.

[Speaking at] a campaign rally at Cuyahoga Community College on Friday in Cleveland:

Hillary Clinton pressed her argument that Republican rival Donald Trump is acting recklessly in saying he might not accept the results of the presidential election in the event he is defeated.

... Mrs. Clinton said that democratic government depends on election losers conceding defeat and validating the result.

She said: “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship.”

She added that the “peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who is in charge.”

That's a lesson in civics for the guy with the “Les Deplorables” T-shirt.

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