When will Republicans condemn Trump's assault on democracy? | Editorial

on October 18, 2016

 

Most voters aren't buying the Donald's latest act, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. They don't think his predatory comments about women were just "locker room talk." They don't believe his denials that he's never made unwanted advances.
 
They don't think his deflections about Bill Clinton's treatment of women – or Hillary's criticisms of the women who accused her husband of sexual misdeeds – are a legitimate issue in this year's election. Nice try.
 
Yet the majority of Republicans are still inclined to believe Trump's claim that the real reason he is losing is because of a rigged election. Two thirds of them now fear their votes will not be counted, according to an Associated Press poll last month. That's scary.

 

Claiming it's impossible to grope anyone on an airplane because there's an arm rest between the seats is laughable. Claiming the election is being rigged because of widespread voter fraud is not.
 
Even Trump's running mate seems desperate to redirect him. Yet just hours after Mike Pence affirmed on Sunday that he and Trump "will absolutely accept the result of this election," Trump tweeted that the election "is absolutely being rigged," at "many polling places."
 
He has no evidence of this. Yet he still lashed out at the few Republicans who dared challenge him yesterday, calling them "naïve."
 
In fact, voter fraud is so rare that a 2014 study found just 31 possible instances over 14 years of elections, with a total of 1 billion votes cast. And balloting in the most hotly-contested states will be overseen by Republicans. Are they really going to rig this election for Hillary Clinton?
 
While Rudy Giuliani rails, right on cue, about the threat of dead people voting in inner cities, the truth is that false registrations haven't become bad votes in past elections precisely because they get detected by members of both parties who staff most polling places.
 
The only real evidence we have of any widespread attempt to "rig" this election are discriminatory voter laws pushed by Republicans and struck down by our court system. In North Carolina, it was so obvious black people were being targeted that a judge said it was done with "almost surgical precision."
 
Republicans first asked for data on the use of certain voting practices by race, then went out of their way to make sure they banned them in ways that affected African Americans – eliminating the first week of early voting, for instance, only after learning mostly black people used it. It was "as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times," a judge said.
 
Trump's claims are about as far from one. But if Republican voters believe his wild-eyed rants that this election is "one big fix," the damage is done. "It is so irresponsible because what he's doing really goes to the heart of our democracy," Trey Grayson, a prominent Kentucky Republican, told the New York Times. "What is great about America is that we change our leaders at the ballot box, not by bullets."
 
One risk here is that Trump's rhetoric triggers violence by a mentally unbalanced follower. Look what Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, told The Boston Globe: If Clinton gets elected, "I hope we can start a coup." He added: "She should be in prison or shot ... We're going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that's what it takes. There's going to be a lot of bloodshed."  
 
Even Republicans who support Trump must ask themselves: Should we allow one sore loser to imperil our democracy? It's not enough to condemn Trump's brutishness or bigotry; they must condemn his assault on the integrity of our election system, too.

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