The Election of 1800 was one of America’s most bitter and divisive elections, pitting the incumbent (and unpopular) John Adams against Thomas Jefferson. But one of the greatest happenings of a young democracy was John Adams accepting the will of the people and peacefully stepping aside.
But with the Election of 2016, should we fear that should Donald Trump lose he will accept the will of the people? The evidence is adding up that he may not.
On August 2nd, Trump made the claim that “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.” But his claim was more alarming when he said:
“I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” Trump added. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.” – CNN
Is this just bluster and bravado to provide cover for losing? Or is this a signal? This was also months ago, and honestly can be lost in the shuffle of Trumpisms that play out each week.
But yesterday he was sounding the call again:
This time the New York Times felt it was an attempt to “unnerve” Clinton going into the next debates. But what of these loyal Trump followers? In late winter, when protesters were interrupting rallies, Trump encouraged violence — and his supporters followed suit. At no time did Trump attempt to dissuade his followers not to be violent and early on invited it.
Some of his followers are a rabid bunch.
So the unanswered question is this: just how many Trump supporters are willing to violently protest should he lose the election? He has already invoked “2nd Amendment” remedies against Hillary:
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said. CNN
The big picture remains: if he loses the election and casts it as rigged, will his fervent followers begin to use “2nd Amendment” options to protest what they overwhelmingly feel is a rigged election? Despite evidence that voter fraud is rare, half of Trump’s followers disagree. The very reason Trump rose from the Republican field is the groundswell of anger among the GOP base. It’s dry kindling awaiting a match and some oxygen.
Surely we won’t reach this point, right? Consider that national and local Fraternal Order of Police associations are endorsing Trump. They had not endorsed any Presidential candidate since 2008. Recently in Cleveland, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association endorsed a president for the first time ever — and it was Trump. The first responders to stand and meet a citizen uprising… support the candidate whose followers who would be these protesters. While not all police officers are lockstep with Trump, their union is and that’s cause for strife internally.
There is a simple way that any fear of an post-election uprising could be contained. Key Republicans could come forward after each Trump statement about election fraud and rigged elections and say they believe in the voting process, and that just like in the Election of 1800, we can drag our candidates through the mud but we respect the outcome of the election. But their silence right now is tacit approval for their candidate and the possible mob in waiting.
And while a coups d’etat is unlikely when post-election the military will still be under the control of the sitting president, we should nonetheless be concerned. Revolutions begin at the grassroots.