During an interview that was broadcast on July 19th, Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump if he would accept the election results if he lost the election. Trump refused to answer, saying, “I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” It’s irrelevant what he did last time. Last time he wasn’t the sitting president of the United States. Now, he is the sitting president of the United States, and he refused to say he would accept the results of the upcoming election.
It’s impossible to overstate how bad that is. It’s easily the most anti-American thing a sitting president has ever said. But, it’s not really what scares me. People have been openly suspicious for years that Trump won’t accept the election results if he loses. My partner, Jamil, even wrote a post about it. What really scares me is the collective shrug we got as a response. The two top stories that came out of the interview were about Trump’s taking a cognitive test and how good a reporter Chris Wallace is. I had to go to the third page of search results before I found someone talking about Trump’s potentially not accepting the election results.
I would have felt much better had there been an immediate and loud response from the Joint Chiefs, or at least a couple of generals and admirals, saying that the military would ensure that Trump accepts the results. I would have felt much better if every member of Congress had spoken up about the fact that a sitting president has no choice but to accept the election results. I would have felt much better if I heard something from the Supreme Court saying that it’s unconstitutional to refuse the election results. Heck, I would have felt much better with a statement from the United Nations or some foreign governments saying that they will monitor the US elections and do what they can to ensure a smooth transition of power. Instead we got virtual silence. That’s terrifying.
We’ve gotten to this point because the press, and others, have been normalizing this administration for more than four years now. I warned them not to do it, but they did it anyway. Now, Trump can say anything, it doesn’t matter how outlandish, and people seem to think, “That’s just Trump being Trump.” Trump being Trump must not be seen as normal.
We need people to speak up. We need to let the world know that the sitting president must not undermine the integrity of American elections. None of us should accept the status quo. Silence is frightening. We need to be reassured that our basic institutions will survive this horrid presidency.