Donald Trump’s main campaign theme during the past few weeks has been that our election system is corrupted. If he loses the presidency, he tells his loyal followers, it will be because the voting was rigged.
In tonight’s third and final presidential debate, moderator, Chris Wallace, asked Donald Trump a direct question – twice – to which he refused to give a direct answer.
After reminding Trump that his running mate, Mike Pence, pledged that both he and Trump would “absolutely” accept the will of the people, Wallace asked him, “Will you absolutely accept the results of the election?”
Trump’s reply, to a question he no doubt was prepared to answer, was, “I will look at it at the time.”
I will look at it at the time?
By refusing to say if he would accept the legitimacy of a Hillary Clinton win, Trump undermined the basic American belief that our election system is fair. By leaving in doubt whether he would concede after a loss, Trump did something no other presidential candidate has ever done… question the entire basis of American democracy.
Wallace did not ask Trump a Bush v. Gore type question, namely, if the election results were close in one particular state, would he question those results if they went against him. No, Wallace was talking about our national election system.
Many analysts are now saying Trump sealed his fate with his unprecedented, conditional answer. They are labeling his refusal to give a “yes” or “no” reply to Wallace’s direct question as one that disqualifies him from office.
So why would Trump answer the way he did?
A Morning Consult survey of nearly 2,000 registered voters found that a strong majority of Republicans, 73 percent, now believe the election could be unfairly taken from Trump.
Trump’s loyal base has heard his message that he can only lose if the election is stolen from him… and they buy it. They have heard talk of massive voter fraud from their Republican leaders for years … and they believe it exists.
Many pundits are predicting Trump will keep pounding this narrative of a rigged election no matter how much pushback he gets from his Republican comrades.
The bottom line? Trump has no regard for any down ballot Republicans he may hurt. He doesn’t care if he loses in a landslide, even if it costs the GOP the Senate and the House.
For the purported billionaire, it’s all about keeping the loyalty, and anger, of his diehard base intact for his next, post-election business venture… whatever that maybe.
Nothing else makes any sense.
Photo | (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP)