Four years ago, Hillary Clinton supporters talked a lot about then-candidate Donald Trump refusing to concede a presidential election they were certain he would lose. As it happened, they had it exactly backward: Trump wound up winning, and Democrats and their media cheerleaders have spent most of their waking moments ever since then trying to invalidate that result. They used false charges about Russian “collusion” and any other conceivable means — fair or foul — to make the bad dream of 2016 go away.
That’s the key fact to keep in mind amid the drumbeat of obsessive mainstream commentary and analysis about what Trump will do when he loses in November.
The drumbeat has been getting louder. In recent weeks, multiple mainstream outlets have pondered the same old Trump-sore-loser scenario. They are certain the president will seek to delegitimize the results and use unconstitutional means to hold onto an office from which they are sure voters will evict him.
As he did in 2016, Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of the process by talking about possible election fraud.
Only this time, his concerns have some merit. A recent Post feature related a veteran Democratic operative’s confession about how easy it is to cheat, making it clear there is reason to worry. With so many ballots being mailed this fall because of the pandemic — and with so few safeguards put in place — chaos is likely as the count drags on for days, weeks and even months after Election Day.
That has led a host of liberal pundits to openly speculate about how to stop Trump from stealing the election. Their formulas for saving democracy from him include having “principled” Republicans undermine Trump from within the government, military intervention a?k?a a coup and, most importantly, mass protests.
They are sure the only way to ensure a peaceful transition of power is a landslide victory for Joe Biden by a margin that not even a real-estate developer from Queens could challenge.
But there is a problem with their fulminations about the evil orange man installing the authoritarian regime liberals have been warning us about every since he started running for president.
To wit: It’s all pure projection on their part.
For all of their frightening predictions of what Trump might do if he loses, the one thing we already know is that it is the Democrats who will, as Hillary Clinton advised Biden, never concede defeat. Though some of Trump’s trolling of the media and the left is interpreted as betraying his plans to overturn the results, Democrats have already shown us outright how they react to losing.
This time, Democrats won’t be relying on conspiracy theories or politicized investigations. Instead, they are counting on a strategy intended to scare Americans into voting for Biden — even if they have misgivings about handing over the government over to a confused figurehead and his radical supporters.
After a summer of (ahem) “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter protests that unleashed violence and looting in American cities, most recently in Rochester, is there a shred of doubt in anyone’s mind that the same combination of elite liberals, criminal thugs and antifa Marxists would be deployed to burn and destroy the moment it appears that Trump might be winning?
Behind all that high-minded talk from pompous columnists about virtuous patriots stopping Trump from cheating is a brazen threat. They’re saying in effect: The same forces that have wrecked havoc in the name of a false charge that America is an irredeemably racist nation may well inflict even worse damage in order to ensure that Trump’s re-election is thwarted.
That’s the subtext of the talk from Biden supporters about democracy. Their ace in the hole isn’t an accurate count of the votes but the certainty that America’s cities will burn unless the electorate bows to their demands.
Aided by the devastation from the pandemic, Biden may yet win without any help from mobs. If he does, Trump will likely bow to the verdict of the people and go home.
But in what is likely to be a close election in a deeply divided country — immersed in a culture war about a largely false charge of racism — the real threat to the process isn’t a presidential spoilsport. It’s a Democratic Party that is fully prepared to unleash ruin on the nation if it loses again.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org