Author’s note: This column was written prior to the last Presidential debate and appears to be somewhat prophetic.
When my wife, Jane, was in Tanzania a year ago at this time on a Lutheran mission trip, the girls at the school they were supporting asked many questions. They were just weeks away from a Presidential election in Tanzania in a country with a population split between Muslims and Christians.
One of the questions that the girls asked was whether we had peaceful transitions after elections here in the U.S., because they do not. The government controls most all public services there so that there is a lapse in those services as grudges are taken out if there is a change in the party in power.
The people fear it and civil unrest is rampant.
Jane answered them that in the U.S. there has been a peaceful, respectful transition of power that has not questioned the legitimacy of who was nominally elected even in close elections such as Kennedy/Nixon in 1960 and Bush/Gore in 2000.
All parties recognized the need to accept the outcome of elections for the good of the nation. Both McCain and Romney conceded to Obama in the same tradition of respect to the mandate in their election losses and never questioned the President’s legitimacy in the office.
As the first black man elected to the office of President the acceptance of Obama was not universal across the culture, nor respectful. Donald Trump recognized that and exploited it by fermenting the “birther movement” claiming that Obama was a “Muslim born in Kenya.”
He knew that it was a false charge, but played it up to get the haters riled up and it was astounding how many Republicans would answer in polls that they believed the “birther” contention that Obama was not born in this country. I thought that it was despicable at the time with an objective of de-legitimizing a President elected with nearly 52 percent of the vote.
That is not something that a patriot does. Trump has later denied paternity of the birther movement, but I watched him in disgust in real time, it has his DNA and it is really still at the core of the movement that he claims today.
Trump has been sowing the seeds of new conspiracy theories that he knows are false, but believes they will rally his base which he is betting is larger than polls show. His new conspiracy is that the election is being rigged by the media and global elite. He knows that the “birthers” will go with that charge because after all, he proved what he could get them to respond affirmatively to his past malarkey.
The same “evil media” that he skillfully exploited to focus relentlessly on him during the primaries to win the nomination is now “in the tank” for Hillary reporting on Trump’s own words and the negative reaction they produced, which he apparently thinks is unfair.
Republicans charge media bias over her WikiLeaks e-mail dumps gotten from the Russian hackers, but frankly there is not much there nearly as interesting by comparison. Maybe that will change with the next batch. The fact that the Russians could hack one of our political institutions and this would be cheered by the other party is what is astounding.
Trump says that if elected he would meet with Putin ahead of the inauguration … talk about conspiracy. It is a virtual likelihood that he will lose the election and lose it badly unless there is some dramatic game changing revelation. He is running out of time for a game changer.
Maybe the conspiracy was in nominating Trump who was the only GOP candidate that was sure to lose to Hillary? Trump is a dangerous desperate man right now. He is setting the plate for such a loss, laying blame on his usual scapegoats, while playing the victim himself. There has been nothing about this man that has displayed any level of respect for others or general moral character and that is not going to change with a negative election outcome – in fact, it will inflame it.
If he concedes, I predict it will be hollow and only with words and he will go after Hillary with a vengeance post-election seeking vindication. His “movement” will still be with him, angrier than ever, and I think he will grasp this as an opportunity to trash current media networks by forming one of his own, charging $9.99 month from a potential subscriber base of 40 million.
That could incite a full-blown media network uncivil war.
The split in the GOP will fracture further destroying the traditional GOP with Trumpites, Conservatives and Business Republicans all warring to claim “representation” of the party.
This was political party suicide not murder. What I am describing is chaos and destruction as Trump will do everything that he can to undermine the Hillary administration, media and the GOP. Win or lose, he is not done yet.
As a footnote, Mike Pence said that they “do absolutely accept” the election outcome. That will be true for the GOP leadership at least at first, but note that he did not say that Donald would accept it. No one, not his campaign nor his surrogates, speak for Donald. He will not.
Trump responded to the Pence statement calling the election rigged not only by the media, but at “many polling places.” His story has been that the only way that he could possibly lose is if the election was stolen from him and he will stick with it.
Paul Ryan said that the election will be run with integrity, which Trump responded was “naive.”
I think the transition of power was relatively normal last election, but the inability of the parties to govern was the extension of dysfunctionality that could worsen to become a crisis.
Trump will do whatever he can to bring it on. We may be on a path to becoming more like Tanzania than we think.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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