Trump is how democracies die

III% United Patriots is an umbrella organization for militia groups nationwide.


When I started drafting this post yesterday I didn’t think things could get worse. And then, in Wednesday night’s debate, Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the outcome of the election should he lose.

What I’m saying now is I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, okay?

There is no precedent for this in American democracy. None. Never in our history has a major party candidate, when asked directly, refused to honor the peaceful transfer of political power.

And no, Trump’s stand is not the same as what Al Gore did in 2000. Gore had in fact conceded the election to Bush. Then, when informed that under Florida election law a recount was mandatory, he rescinded that concession to allow the process to play out as required under the law. And when the Supreme Court ended the recount before it was completed, ensuring Bush’s election, Gore accepted that outcome, and did so graciously.

In fact, Trump’s position is sinister. As Peter Beinart put it at The Atlantic:

For months now, Hillary Clinton has been arguing that Trump represents a threat to American democracy. Tonight he made her point more effectively than she could ever have dreamed.

Frankly, I’ve lost track of all of the things that have alternately mystified, infuriated, and terrified me about this election cycle. But this one is different. Consider me legitimately terrified.

For some time now Donald Trump has been claiming that the presidential election is rigged against him. Warning that the election might be stolen, Trump has called on his supporters to turn out on Election Day not just to vote, but to watch the polls for signs of vote fraud or cheating.

As Vox points out, there is some actual history behind Trump’s charge. American elections have, in the past, really been rigged. But:

They’re incredibly rare, and in fact near impossible, in 2016, which makes bringing up fears of a “rigged election” this year a boogeyman at best and dangerous at worst. But at times in America, they’ve been quite common.

But the people who’ve most often rigged elections aren’t liberal elites acting in cahoots with nonwhite shock troops — they’re white supremacists trying to maintain white power in the face of a diverse electorate.

Trump has been weaving this dangerous narrative for months, which has left election workers across the country on edge:

Poll workers across the country are on high alert after the recent firebombing of a Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina and reports that two armed men lingered for hours outside a Democratic campaign office in Virginia. Some feel that Donald Trump’s claim that the election is rigged, and his suggestion that supporters and their friends go to polling places to “watch,” are rhetorical time bombs.

Over at the Washington Post, though, fellow academic and noted blogger Dan Drezner has taken comfort in the fact that there’s little evidence that anyone’s rushing to heed Trump’s call to arms. Of course this was before Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

Others, however, have been far less convinced. Count me among them.

Because this is how democracies fall. Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election is legitimately horrifying. It opens the door to serious post-election violence by his most radicalized supporters.

Graphic by J. Morgan. Click to enlarge.

Make no mistake, those supporters are out there. In an analysis of Trump’s Facebook posts about election rigging, data scientist Jonathan Morgan found hundreds of individuals involved in armed anti-government militia groups across the country who engaged with the candidate’s message. Morgan writes:

A closer look at militia activity across Facebook reveals that, while many restrict their activity to closed, private communities, over 240 militia groups keep active, public Facebook pages.

It’s on these public pages that supporters who have commented or reacted to Trump’s Facebook posts about rigged elections discuss how they view the upcoming election, the US government, and rebellion. …

When Donald Trump tells people the election is rigged, they believe him. Some of those people already believe it’s their duty to take up arms against a tyrannical government.

Back in June, before he was the Republican nominee, I wrote about how Trump has been embraced by European far-right political parties and movements and endorsed by America’s racist white-nationalist fringe. Given his rejection of the most basic principles and norms of democracy, is it any wonder?

The end is near …


And by that I mean the end of this year’s tragedy/horror show/circus/train wreck/national disgrace series of presidential debates.

Trump and Clinton square off for the final time on stage in Las Vegas (fitting somehow) tonight, and since throughout this process I’ve strongly urged my students to do their civic duty and tune in, I’ll be watching it too.

As a viewer, there are all kinds of ways to prep. I’m going to follow the lead suggested by the brilliant Wiley above. You might want to as well.

Or you could follow some of the links below:

NPR gives us four things to look for in tonight’s debate. And during the debate they’ll be producing live transcripts and real-time fact checking.

The New York Times also has a preview and summary of the themes they will be watching for in tonight’s debate, from Clinton’s struggle to sound human to the possibility that Trump will take his time at the podium to burn the GOP to the ground.

Finally, if you’re not sure where to find the debate on TV or radio, or if you’re one of those youngsters who consumes all media via streaming the Internet across the screen of your smartphone, Vox has your complete guide to how to watch. You can also read their preview take on the role of tonight’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, here.

So buckle in folks. See you on the other side.

About that basket, by the numbers


Vox has produced what looks to me like the definitive summary of the contents of the “basket of deporables” that constitutes Trump’s support for the White House. To summarize, Clinton is right. Here are the details as compiled by Vox.

On Islamophobic attitudes, Clinton may underestimate the breadth of animus for Muslims among Trump backers.

A poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos in June and July looked at broad views on Islam, finding Trump supporters are more than twice as likely as Clinton supporters to have negative views of Islam. About 58 percent of Trump supporters said they have “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” views of Islam, compared to 24 percent of Clinton supporters.

On Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, a poll in June from the Texas Politics Project showed that 76 percent of Republicans support the idea compared to 26 percent of Democrats. Meanwhile 44 percent of Democrats said they strongly oppose the idea compared to only 6 percent of Republicans.

Trump supporters hold strongly anti-immigrant views more generally, but especially fear the cultural impact of Mexican immigrants specifically.

We do know, based on an analysis by Jonathan Roswell at Gallup, that Trump backers are more likely to live in areas that are farther from Mexico and have smaller Mexican populations. That suggests Trump supporters are generally people who live in native, white communities and may, perhaps, fear those communities are changing.

This is why a Trump surrogate warned that if Clinton wins the election, there will be “taco trucks every corner.” The worry isn’t that delicious food will be everywhere, but that the cultural makeup of America will dramatically change if the country maintains policies that are friendlier to immigration — and it will change to a culture that Trump regularly describes, as he did at the launch of his campaign, as dangerous and criminal.

This complicates Clinton’s claim that up to half of Trump supporters are “xenophobic.” They aren’t in the sense that they don’t seem to mind a French immigrant, even an undocumented one. But many are potentially xenophobic in the sense that they fear Mexican — and perhaps other Latino — immigrants, because of the cultural impact that may have on America.

Trump supporters are also more likely to hold racist views. While Clinton may miss the mark when she claims that half of Trump supporters are racists, she doesn’t miss by much.

A poll from March and April by Reuters and Ipsos took a close look at this issue. It found that Trump supporters are more likely to say that, compared to white people, black people are viewed by Trump supporters as less intelligent, more lazy, more rude, more violent, and more criminal. About 40 to 50 percent of Trump supporters held at least one of these views, while fewer than 35 percent of Clinton supporters did.

Alongside these explicitly racist views, Trump’s white supporters exhibit a far higher rate of what sociologists call racial resentment than do Clinton’s white supporters.

An analysis from Daniel Byrd and Loren Collingwood found white Trump supporters are much more likely to show high levels of racial resentment than Clinton’s white supporters.

Again, white Clinton — and Bernie Sanders — supporters still show fairly high levels of racial resentment, as do white Americans generally. But Trump supporters are simply at another level.

This doesn’t mean that a majority or even half, as Clinton suggested, of Trump supporters are racist. But these views are much more prominent among the Republican nominee’s supporters than those who back the Democrat in the presidential race.

So on the core of Clinton’s charge that half of her opponent’s supporters fall into a “basket of deplorables” based upon their Islamophobic, xenophobic, and racist views, when we look at the data we see she’s mostly right. Sure, that leaves plenty of Republicans and conservatives who are supporting Trump because they believe they have no other choice. He is their nominee after all.

And understandably, these folks resent being associated with the other contents of the basket. Fair enough.

But you can also tell a lot about someone by the company they keep. This is Trump’s company. Republicans should just own it.

I welcome our taco overlords

taco trucksThe race for the White House is over. A Clinton landslide is now a foregone conclusion.

The man we have to thank for that is Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, who in an interview on MSNBC last night made a dire prediction for the future.

Gutierrez warned that unless Donald Trump were elected president, America would wake up one day to find “taco trucks on every corner.” Based on the memes that flooded my news feeds this morning, to say that this caused a ripple on social media might be an understatement.

NPR has some of the the highlights.

Check out the threat for yourself:

As Politico reported, this comes on the heels of the implosion of what little Hispanic support Trump had following his brief visit to Mexico and hardline speech on immigration in Arizona.

I don’t know about you, but after this, November 8 can’t come soon enough. I welcome the arrival of our taco overlords.