October 13, 2016

Josh Marshall is worried about the aftermath of this election:

Quite simply, everybody needs to be paying close attention to what happens on November 9th.

It now seems quite likely that Hillary Clinton will win the November election and become the next President of the United States. But Donald Trump has been for months pushing the idea that the election may be stolen from him by some mix of voter fraud (by racial and ethnic minorities) or more systemic election rigging by persons unknown. Polls show that large numbers of his supporters believe this.

... to date, the 'voter fraud' scam has never been fully weaponized as a way to delegitimize and even resist a specific election, certainly not a national election.... Donald Trump is doing that now....

As the pressure on him grows and his own anger mounts there's every reason to think he'll keep upping the ante.

But as I said last night in reference to the possibility that he might willfully destroy the GOP, Trump has no attention span, doesn't understand how politics works, and is obsessed with feeding his own ego, so he's limited in what he can accomplish. Trump might want to rally his troops to contest the election results, but unlike most demagogues, he's too ignorant to know what steps to take to throw the country into chaos.

What he's more likely to do is to look for a way to feed his own ego. So he'll just go back out on the road, hold more big rallies, bask in the love and affection, and make a vague promise that -- believe him! -- he'll get the election results overturned. He won't tell us how, because he won't have the slightest idea what to do next (and, of course, there won't be anything plausible he can do, especially if it's a rout). It'll be like his pledge to find the truth about President Obama's birth certificate -- he'll probably give us a load of malarkey about having experts who are looking into the situation ("they cannot believe what they’re finding"). Or he'll threaten lawsuits (but who the hell can he sue?).Beyond that, he'll have nothing.

I worry more about acolytes like that thug in a bespoke suit, Roger Stone. Remember his threat to send Trump supporters to the hotels rooms of Republican convention delegates if there was a move to deny Trump the nomination? I wouldn't want to be a member of the Electoral College pledged to vote for Clinton in a state with a close race -- Stone really might point some goons toward the electors, their spouses, and their kids. The same is true for state officials overseeing elections in closely contested states. Stone, unlike Trump, might actually know specific ways to be menace.

And there's always the risk of spontaneous white riots. As Trip Gabriel notes in The New York Times today, the Trumpers still think their man is winning:

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — ... thousands of Trump supporters turned out with undimmed fervor for the Republican nominee and optimism about his electoral prospects.

... They reiterated Mr. Trump’s claim that national polls showing him behind by double digits were “rigged” and that he was heading to victory in November.

... His supporters routinely pointed, as the nominee did, to the huge crowds still flocking to see him as evidence that his campaign remains strong.

“I don’t believe anything the media says,” said Brad Chilson, 47, a truck driver from Bradford County, Pa., who waited hours with his wife outside the 8,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre for Mr. Trump. “Look at the turnout we’ve got here.”

And they believe everything is a conspiracy:

They also repeated conspiracy theories that flourish online. “A lot of people affiliated with Hillary have died over the years, and nobody says nothing about it,” said Eric Bulger, a retired police officer with the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey.

... Mike Pisano, 65, a factory worker, echoed Mr. Trump’s contention that Mrs. Clinton had escaped indictment because Bill Clinton had met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“He was on the plane with her fixing that,” Mr. Pisano said.

I don't think Trump is going to tell his voters to commit mayhem if Clinton is declared the loser winner, because there's no ego gratification for him if they do. (Remember, he's the "I alone can fix it" guy.) But I think the Trumpers might go in that direction on their own, or might be goaded by the likes of Stone, Alex Jones, and Breitbart. Trump might play some part in the goading. But he'll seek adulation first, because that's what he really cares about.

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