“I’m doing our country a big favor by bringing it up, and you know, from a common sense standpoint, if you look at it just out of common sense and pure basic beautiful intelligence — you know it can’t work,” Trump said Wednesday.
Some of these steps, like trying to shape the conditions of mail-in voting, are not necessarily sinister and fall more into the category of legal challenges frequently made by both parties to win advantage within the structure of elections. But others come across as the actions of a campaign that believes its own claims it is winning.
Demanding more debates — as Trump is doing — is a time-honored tactic of a trailing candidate needing a game-changer. The upshot of Trump’s complaints on mail-in voting often appears to be an attempt to limit the number of people can vote — when they may fear showing up to a polling place during a pandemic exacerbated by his own mistakes. There is also a key attempt by the Trump campaign to lay the groundwork for legal and political challenges that could discredit Biden’s victory if he wins and to give Trump’s ego an out if voters reject him.
None of this is surprising. After all, the President made inaccurate claims of massive voter fraud in the popular vote in the election that he won in 2016.
The evidence in the impeachment trial strongly suggested that the President used his power in an attempt to coerce a foreign power into interfering in the election based on false claims of corruption against Biden.
And as President, Trump has relentlessly attacked institutions that have held him to account and countered his false narratives, including the courts, the press, US intelligence agencies and independent government watchdogs. Casting doubt on election institutions is consistent with his normal behavior.
For his entire life in business before he entered politics, Trump bent rules, laws, traditions and ethics. His willingness to do so now signals that he is prepared to do anything within his power to win the election. And it suggests that he’s also willing to drag the country through a corrosive period of legal and political brinkmanship if the election is close.
If he loses power in such circumstances, Trump’s tactics could sow a sense of grievance and disenfranchisement among his voters that would shatter his successors’ attempts to forge unity and could damage US democracy for years ahead.
A politically motivated reversal
The President introduced a new caveat to his opposition to mail-in voting on Wednesday that may reflect concern among Republicans that he risks suppressing his own vote in several…