The New York Times editorial board criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump for peddling “ludicrous” and “dangerous” claims that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is “rigging this election,” writing that Trump’s insinuations “further demolish public confidence in the foundations of our government.”
Trump has a long history of pushing widely debunked lies and conspiracy theories, many of which have been hyped by his allies. His current focus on claims of a “rigged election” tap into the long-standing right-wing voter fraud myths used to push discriminatory voter ID laws.
The Times’ editorial board excoriated Trump for his “ludicrous” and “dangerous” claims, writing that he is “setting the stage for an upwelling of right-wing outrage, cuing up a crisis of electoral legitimacy” that will cause four to eight years of “catcalls and loathing” if Clinton wins. The board explained that while “Trump’s brain is a pincushion for conspiracy theories,” this assertion in particular could “further demolish public confidence in the foundations of our government”:
Donald Trump is calling for volunteers to watch the polls in November, and he is making no bones about why.
“Help me stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election!” says the application form on his campaign website.
There are so many lies and delusions flowing daily from the Trump campaign that it’s easy to miss the times when the Republican nominee is being not just ludicrous, but dangerous. This is one.
He is accusing the government he wants to lead of being both victim and perpetrator of a vast conspiracy. And he is setting the stage for an upwelling of right-wing outrage, cuing up a crisis of electoral legitimacy. If Mrs. Clinton wins, get ready for at least four years, maybe eight, of the catcalls and loathing that plagued President Obama’s two terms.
A more immediate concern is what happens on Nov. 8, when squads of Trump volunteers fan out to defend their candidate’s presumed victory. It does not seem far-fetched to expect that signatures will be pointlessly challenged and citizens intimidated and inconvenienced, that the ruckus of the Trump campaign will spread to polling places around the country.
Mr. Trump’s brain is a pincushion for conspiracy theories, so maybe it’s no surprise that he thinks the Clinton campaign will be sending African-Americans and foreigners into booths across the country to fake their votes over and over, millions of times.
Now, more than ever, the country needs responsible political leaders and the courts to defend and expand voting rights, rather than sitting silently while Mr. Trump further demolishes public confidence in the foundations of our government.