In his first campaign stop since he left the debate stage last night, Donald Trump told Ohio voters he would “totally accept” the results of the election “if I win.”
I was still busy picking my jaw up off the floor this morning from a similar assertion he made last night. Yes, Trump told moderator Chris Wallace and the American people that he wouldn’t commit to accepting the election results, something that is literally unprecedented in American history.
It’s an understatement to say I was shocked that a nominee for a major political party would trample on the very thing that makes our country one of the greatest on the planet — the over-200-year-long peaceful transition of power. It made me wonder, Does this man really want to be president of the United States of America?
I shouldn’t have been surprised by his promise to keep us all “in suspense” about whether or not he would accept the outcome of the election. Against the guidance of his advisers and his own daughter, Trump has been telling his supporters that the media and political institutions are allowing massive voter fraud to steal the election from him in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Trump, who is seeing a drastic drop in the polls and many reliably red states polling blue, is desperate to rally his base as his path to victory quickly narrows. I can only assume that, knowing he is about to lose, Trump is trying to point fingers in every direction except at himself.
Regardless of whether you support him, Hillary Clinton, or a third-party candidate, as an American you should be upset (and horrified) at this attack on our country’s democracy. It is an affront to the U.S. Constitution, and a direct threat to our nation’s stability.
I am personally offended when someone aims to weaken America’s political system. But as a strategist, I also understand why he's saying it and what it means politically.
I grew up in Miami, which counts among its residents many immigrants who have sought refuge from the corrupt political systems destroying their homelands. I was raised to understand that I was privileged to be born in a free country with a long-standing, continuous democracy. It gave me a deep appreciation for the unique freedoms I had as an American and inspired me to pursue a career in politics and honor my own family of immigrants and political refugees, who have not always had the individual freedoms or the right to vote that too many in the U.S. take for granted.
For these reasons and many more, I am personally offended when someone aims to weaken America’s political system. But as a strategist, I also understand why he's saying it and what it means politically.
Elections are controlled at the local level, meaning in several thousand different jurisdictions in 50 different states, plus the District of Columbia. Many of the key swing states are led by Republican governors, and Republican secretaries of state are in charge of the election process, including in Florida, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia, Utah, Arizona, and Iowa.
I can only assume that, knowing he is about to lose, Trump is trying to point fingers in every direction except at himself.
But the one thing that all of Trump’s world does agree on is that the media is working against him. He has railed against the “hit job” that negative news stories (and SNL) have done on him and blamed them for his dwindling support.
Yet, Trump and his campaign have made enough mistakes to fill dozens of newspapers, and the stories about his misstatements write themselves. I didn’t hear Trump complaining about the extravagant media attention in the primary when it gave him more than $2 billion in free advertising and helped propel him to victory over a crowded GOP field.
If potential GOP voter suppression wasn’t enough, the third debate did nothing to expand Trump’s base. On the contrary, what could have been a strong debate performance was derailed and instead reinforced many voters’ biggest concerns about Trump — namely, that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president.
Once again, no one is talking about the issues; everyone, including me, is focused on Trump’s “wait and see” approach to the election results.
Above all, the role of the president is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Now, more than ever, we need real leadership — that starts by respecting and safeguarding our democracy.
Trump could have avoided the endless headlines by just sticking to his campaign manager and daughter's advice by saying: “Yes, I will accept the results, absent overwhelming evidence that there is voter fraud.” But of course, he didn’t.