Donald Trump's supporters say they're ready for armed protest if Hillary Clinton makes it into the White House, and Trump surrogates are encouraging the unrest.
2016 has been a record setting election year, both for its polarizing effect on the population and the number of people who have tuned in to watch the first two presidential debates, but now the race has gotten to a terrifying level of manipulation and fear mongering.
On October 7, the Washington Post released the now infamous tape of Donald Trump talking about sexually assaulting women during a hot-mic moment on Access Hollywood. The Republican presidential candidate talked about kissing women without their consent and even said he could, "grab them by the p-ssy" because he was a star.The fallout from Trump's conversation with former NBC host Billy Bush has been swift and unforgiving. Hillary Clinton has a seven-point lead in the presidential race according to some polls, and it seems impossible for Trump to make a comeback and win the presidency. However, in response, Trump has begun sowing the seeds of doubt in voter's minds by claiming the election is all "rigged," and he said he wouldn't concede if Clinton wins in November.
Trump's sore loser attitude may seem harmless coming from a man who has ridden a wave of machismo since he stepped into the political forum, but his remarks carry a serious price. Because Trump has convinced his followers that he has been targeted as part of a political coup, his most dedicated supporters are preparing to fight against what they perceive as a miscarriage of justice.
There have been many instances of Trump supporters threatening to cause an uprising if Clinton wins the election. Even Trump's running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, had to try and stymie one such outburst from a woman at a rally in Newton, Iowa, where Pence was speaking. The LA Times reported the woman addressed Pence by saying, "Our lives depend on this election. … If Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself, I'm ready for a revolution because we can't have her in."
Pence demurred and told the woman, "Don't say that." But, the Trump supporter insisted on expressing her plan for upheaval. During the second presidential debate, Trump himself told Clinton that he would appoint a special prosecutor to put her in jail for mishandling her private e-mail server, so the vitriol is fresh among Trump supporters.
Although Trump fans may seem off-kilter by threatening revolution, they're being led on by Trump surrogates and the candidate himself. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention, posted a call for "pitchforks and torches" on Twitter. According to Huffington Post, the Sherriff tweeted scathing accusations against Congress, the White House, and the government in general for being complicit in what Clarke considers a bias against Trump.Even fellow Republican politicians have jumped on Trump's rigged election bandwagon. Although many delegates have tried to distance themselves from Trump since the release of his scandalous Access Hollywood video, some are still towing the Trump line. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alaska) has declared that Democrats are, "attempting to rig this election."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has tried to precariously balance himself in relationship to Trump throughout the campaign, even showed a moment of weakness on Friday. The former Mitt Romney running mate said he feared the "gloom and grayness" of the election. Whether that means the overall political climate of 2016 or the rigged election conspiracy that Trump is supporting is unclear.
If Trump really does not concede the election, more will be at stake than his unhappy supporters. Ari Fleischer, former George W. Bush press secretary told Politico, "If he never calls to concede, he'll go down as one of the sorest of sore losers," Fleischer said, but "if Donald Trump loses and fights the outcome, it will make many of his followers, which means millions of people, question the legitimacy of our American government. That's destructive and corrosive."
In the end, even if Trump loses the 2016 election, he may still do serious damage to the democratic process for years to come based on his rhetoric and his insistence of corruption.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Photo]