Donald Trump Is Scarier Than I Thought

I’ve written before about how scary it is that Donald Trump is a major party nominee for president. Specifically, I was most terrified by what it brought out in seemingly normal people. The racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny, the complete and utter rejection of the facts. These are all undercurrents of American society that anyone paying attention knew were there, but the shear amount we were inundated with was alarming.

Trump ceased being funny long ago. You can’t laugh at someone who is playing a significant role in increasing racial tensions in classrooms across the country. However, in recent weeks Trump has proven himself to, if not actually desire authoritarian rule, at least pretend to. He’s taken to undermining the basic tenets of democracy itself.

For some reason, Donald Trump has managed to convince some people that he’s some kind of man of the people. Apparently, being the most unqualified political candidate in recent memory – or maybe ever – contributes to this “common man” appeal. Part of this, though, involves tapping into a feeling that the political system is somehow rigged. But only for certain definitions of “rigged.”

Trump has stoked unfounded fears of rampant voter fraud. In response to this “problem,” Trump has encouraged his supporters in Pennsylvania to go to other polling places and, you know, make sure no fraud occurs.

The problem with that, of course, is that a self-organized vigilante group could easily devolve into voter intimidation. As Simon Maloy writes at Salon:

What Trump is talking about presumably is having his supporters go to polling places and loiter outside, keeping their eyes peeled for pernicious voter fraud. It’s not clear how that’s supposed to work, given that such self-appointed poll watchers would have no access to voter registries. Nor would they be empowered in any way to do anything about fraud, imaginary or otherwise. If they do show up, they’re just going to be conspicuously hanging out in heavily Democratic areas where they think voter fraud will occur. (State law requires that anyone who isn’t in line to vote remain 10 feet away from a polling place.)

That in and of itself is not voter intimidation. But if you have a group of people who are fed a story about election rigging, inflamed by the passions of the campaign and not familiar with election laws, you’re creating the conditions for intimidation to arise.

I didn’t think, at the beginning of this campaign season, that we would see so much hate and paranoia sprout out of Trump’s campaign. It would be unsurprising if a freelance poll watcher got a little too zealous.

Not only has Trump preemptively and without evidence called the legitimacy of the election into question, it’s also questionable whether he’ll accept the result of the election should he not win. Even though during the first presidential debate he said he would “absolutely” accept the outcome of the election, in a subsequent interview with the New York Times he was a little less certain.

Mr. Trump, aiming to unnerve Mrs. Clinton, even indicated that he was rethinking his statement at their last debate that he would “absolutely” support her if she won in November, saying: “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.”

Ah, cool. Way to have and foster faith in our electoral process. Whatever you think of the candidates, the actual process of voting isn’t fraudulent in this country. Implying otherwise to the point of waffling about whether you’ll accept the results of the election undermines faith in the process and unravels the fabric of representative democracy.

“The FBI is not the president’s personal legion he or she can use to even the score with rivals.”

This would be enough to peg Donald Trump as an anti-democratic candidate. But it’s not the worst of it. Oh no, that low point came during the first half of the second presidential debate, when Donald Trump looked at Hillary Clinton and said on live television that if he wins the election he will put Clinton in jail.

TRUMP: I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, and I’m going to say it, and hate to say it: If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception … A very expensive process, so we’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace, and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.

CLINTON: Let me just talk about emails, because everything he just said is absolutely false. But I’m not surprised … It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.

DT: Because you’d be in jail.

As I was sitting in my living room watching this dumpster fire, I got chills. Not the good kind, though, that makes you think that everything is going to be OK. The kind where you realize – really realize – that your country could elect a literal authoritarian to the highest office in the land. Before, it was easy to dismiss his bluster as just that. He was making excuses for his imminent loss. This was a direct threat to imprison a political rival. That strikes at the heart of liberal democracy.

It’s almost beside the point that, after 30 years of unparalleled scrutiny, Hillary Clinton has not been found guilty of any crime. Clinton Rules, where innuendo is as good as fact, dominate. It’s not the job of President Trump to prosecute crimes. That needs to be left to law enforcement. The FBI is not the president’s personal legion he or she can use to even the score with rivals.

As Zack Beauchamp at Vox points out, this doesn’t necessarily reveal anything new about Trump. His inability to let go of a grudge is widely known. But, like the now-infamous Trump Tapes, it exposes the depths of his depravity.

His long history of trying to silence critics with lawsuits, his inability to let personal slights go, his pettiness: The nightmare scenario is that these would incline him to use the power of the presidency to forcibly silence his critics and opponents. That’s what is done by tin-pot dictators spanning the globe from North Korea to Zimbabwe. That’s what happens in countries where peaceful transitions of power are the exception, not the rule.

There is nothing OK about any of this. We’re not supposed to be a country ruled at gunpoint. We’re not supposed to be a country that resists the results of a lawful election with unfounded claims of fraud. Donald Trump has not only become the candidate of racists, misogynists, and xenophobes. He’s the anti-democratic candidate, as well.

Photo Credit: Ninian Reid via Flickr

208 comments

Neil L.
Neil L11 months ago

Petitions to protest the Trump Presidency — please sign & share widely:

http://dump-donald-trump.blogspot.com/2016/11/dump-trump.html

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm11 months ago

Well, Shelley you can BELIVE and FEEL anything you want. But you didn't KNOW anything. Until information is released you are all bark and no bite.

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Shelley w.
Shelley w11 months ago

With respect to litigation, it is strange that Hillary is demanding that Comey release the emails that have caused him to reopen the criminal investigation against her. She and Huma Abedin, her closest aid know full well what is on the cell phones collected in the investigation of Huma's husband, Weiner. She knows the emails would have had to involve national security or Comey would not have done this so close to the election. This is a result of Hillary putting classified information and the country's security at risk and then obstructing justice by deleting 33,000 emails that were under supoena from congress. This is a consequence of her extreme negligence, lying and corrupt judgement making her unfit to be president.

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Shelley w.
Shelley w11 months ago

The sheep on this site might think that a criminal investigation being reopened on Hillary is amusing, and I guess this is because they are so used to Hillary being investigated for corruption. The wording of the probe states that this is a direct investigation of Hillary Clinton as no one else is mentioned. This would only be announced for an important and relevant discovery. Insiders from the FBI have stated that field agents in the organization are furious that Comey previously did not send the Classified email evidence against Clinton to a grand jury or special prosecutor because of obvious criminal behavior and intent on her part. Seems like democrats have no problem with one law for the public and another law for the arrogant and souless Hillary Clinton.

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm11 months ago

HAHAAHAHAAHAHAHA I knew some propagandist would be here after this announcement. Unfortunately its aan announcement with absolutely NO Teeth. They will invesitagte to see if it is even something pertinent to the investigation. But like all pi;itical propagandists it will be made to sound like vindication of their hatred. Actually, this is so loosely stated in his remark it shouldnt even have been released. What they “found” may have NOTHING to do with anything. So its much ado about nothing and will NOT be resolved before the election is over. Just more bullshit for operatives to drool over.

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Tia R.
Tia T11 months ago

And no, I was not "paid" to post as Marc P thinks in his manic state of paranoa. And Killary will not "get away" with her transgressions. Yep, karma is a bitch....and so am I:-)

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Tia R.
Tia T11 months ago

Breaking News!!! Oops! Looks like Killary may very well be indicted after all! The covered up investigation about her emails will be reopened. Turns out McCombey's relative was her the person who prepared her taxes so there may have been some collusion and he may very well end up indicted with her. God and karma are great!

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm11 months ago

And apparently you didnt read my post at all Shelley. I dodnt csare of someone is conservative. This country has always had conservatives and liberals in it. Davcid EARNED every ounce of disrepect her gets here because of HIS approach. We all tried the civil approach in the beginning. David comes here to tdo battle agasint all liberal thought. he caomes here to marginalize and rebuke it. He comes here to spew HJohn Birch Propaganda…..and he hates liberals. I dont hate David he is inconsequential. And the fact YOUR response calling liberals sheep puts you in the same vcategory. I have NO desire to control you, I simply refuse to be bullied into your thought process. CIOnservatives and liberals need to stop being at war…….our reps need to get back to doing their Jobs. Being statesmen…..making compromises that make life better for ALL people…..not only the oenss ONE group thinks deserve it.

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Shelley w.
Shelley w12 months ago

To Robert Hamm and the other liberal sheep on this site. It is obvious that you can't argue the issues. Instead, you hurl personal attacks at any conservative thinkers who dare to post. If you will control your emotional visceral response to ideas that challenge the propaganda you have been fed, you might learn to converse more civilly. Democrats appear to be obsessed with control and won't be happy until they make conservative thought extinct. So much for free speech and thoughtful discourse!

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