Donald Trump has gotten a lot of media coverage with his preposterous claims that the American presidential election system is rigged. What Trump really means is that unless he can manipulate that system to win or to his own advantage then it must be rigged.
Don’t take our word for it. Take Donald’s.
During the Republican primaries, Trump referred to the primary process as a “rigged, disgusting dirty system.”
In his first appearance at a rally in West Virginia after he won the Republican nomination for President, Trump proclaimed:
“You’ve been hearing me say it’s a rigged system, but now I don’t say it anymore because I won. It’s true. Now, I don’t care I don’t care,” Trump said. “And the only way I won was I won by such big margins because it is a rigged system. But the only way you can do it, it’s like a boxer, you got to knock them out then you don’t got to worry about the judges. But it’s true.”
The primaries are over. And, as the presidential polling numbers look increasingly bad for Trump, he cares about that rigged system again.
He really cares. Because now he is going to have to worry about the judges – who in this instance will be the American electorate writ large and not the small subset that voted for him in the Republican primaries.
This is a truly unusual circumstance for Trump who is used to being the sole judge, jury and executioner in all of his ventures. In those ventures be they personal, business or entertainment, Trump can rig the system or exploit the system that exists to make him the winner.
Consider Trump on the Apprentice saying “You’re fired”; stiffing contractors and suppliers; walking away from shareholders in the Atlantic City casino deals; bilking customers at Trump university; engaging in sexually aggressive behavior; manufacturing goods in China rather than stateside; avoiding federal taxes; and, the nearly two thousand law suits he has brought to try to get the results he desires and he believes he deserves. The list could go on and on and on.
Then, so too can Trump – he knows no bounds. He can not contemplate a system that he cannot rig or finesse and cannot accept a system in which he would be the loser.
That’s why in the third debate on October 19 when asked whether he would accept the results on Election Day, he demurred saying, “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at that time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”
That suspense ended just one day later on October 20 when Trump told a rally in Ohio, “I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election.” He paused for a few seconds and added, “If I win.”
But, if Trump loses, all bets are off. Trump has said, “I would reserve the right to contest or file a lawsuit in the case of a questionable result.”“
Questionable results might have something to do with concerns about voter fraud. But, the most questionable and unacceptable result for Trump, however, would undoubtedly be a Hillary Clinton victory. The question becomes what will Trump do when that most likely event happens?
Trump has already foreshadowed his answer. He might concede. But, at the same time, he will most probably declare it not a win for Hillary or a failure for him but the results of a rigged system.
Trump is trying to rig the reaction to a likely Clinton victory. By doing so, he is doing a disservice to our American democracy which is built upon trust and confidence in free and fair elections.
Sadly, that doesn’t matter to Trump. What matters to Trump is Trump. What matters to Trump is winning. What matters to Trump is “rigging” the system so that in one way or another he comes out the winner.
For Trump, it’s Donald first, Donald foremost, and Donald forever. Decency and democracy be damned.
[In the interests of full and open disclosure, Frank Islam is on Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Committee.]