What Sour Residue Will Trump Leave Behind?

It’s beginning to look like an ultimate Clinton victory. Certainly however, in this unprecedented and unpredictable year, I make that statement with less conviction than I would like to. The polls seem to be hardening after the completion of the conventions and most importantly the tossup states that are critical to a Trump victory are moving further and further away from him. His path to electoral success has narrowed and the odds seem to be against a Trump victory.  A growing number of establishment Republicans have stated clearly that they will not support Trump in the election. Yet Trump has steadfastly held onto the millions who comprise his core support regardless of his many missteps. His coalition of militia members, white supremacists and disgruntled, uneducated whites has filled his rallies and cheered him with unreserved gusto. They provided him with more votes during the Republican Primary season than any candidate in history. Perhaps however, reality is beginning to take hold within the Trump campaign. Something new is beginning to emerge from the candidate and his surrogates. His complaints about the press and the scheduling of the debates has now turned to concern that the “election is going to be rigged”. He is preparing his followers for a loss.

This terrifying coalition of malcontents has for the first time been brought in out of the fringe. They are now represented by a national political party candidate for president. He has given voice to their fears, prejudices and warped dreams while empowering them on the national stage. This is a group that is convinced that the cards are stacked against them and Trump has been telling them that they are right. He has been telling them that their problems are caused by the “other” and that keeping them out will solve all of their problems. Trump has been telling them that the system is rigged against them and that he and only he will change things and make their lives more secure and successful. He’s been telling them that America is disrespected and being pushed around by others. He has convinced them that he will be tough and “make America great again”. He and only he has the ability, strength and vision to solve America’s problems. Most concerning, however, is that he is convincing them that the only way he will lose this election is if the election is rigged. By doing this he delegitimizes the results of the election in their eyes and places our democracy in mortal danger. l[

The big and unanswerable question is how this group will react if they are convinced that their leader has been cheated out of the presidency. This question becomes even more daunting when we realize that many members of this group are affiliated with the militia movement and white supremacy organizations. It is a group that is well-armed and in some cases well-trained. Certainly I am not predicting an armed rebellion. However, we would be foolish to ignore the potential reaction. In their view the person who becomes president (if not Trump) will have achieved this high office illegally and therefore will have no legal authority. While they have questioned government authority in the past, this time they are convinced that they are right. After all, Donald Trump, their leader, told them it was true. He has told them that the election was rigged.

This irresponsible behavior of Donald Trump is mind-boggling. His words places us all at risk. If he is unaware of what he is doing he proves his lack of qualification for the presidency. If he is doing this knowingly, he proves just how dangerous he is to our nation and our democracy.

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