Now that he's losing again the in the polls, Donald Trump is flirting with the idea of not conceding the election to Hillary Clinton if (when) he loses. Dara Lind at Vox is worried that encouraging millions of voters to reject the results will lead to violence and destabilize the country.
It is entirely too easy to see how this could go badly on November 8 and after. Maybe that’s not what Donald Trump wants, but it’s what he’s setting himself and America up to get. If Clinton wins peaceably and without incident, it will be despite her opponent, not because of him.
But Lind only focuses on Trump and this is not just a Trump phenomena; it's been the standard operating procedure of the Republican Party since Obama won in 2008 and even further back to Bill Clinton's presidency. Trump is simply the natural evolution of the GOP's politics of personal destruction.
Back in the 90s, Republicans decided that delegitimatizing the president would be a great way to gain power. By investigating every aspect of Bill and Hillary Clinton's lives and turning every questionable decision into an earth-shattering "scandal", Republicans set the table for George W. Bush to eke out a win in 2000 (with more than a little help from the right wing of the Supreme Court). It was a messy and unrefined process but it worked.
It wasn't until 2008, however, that Republicans turned delegitimizing the Democratic president into an art form. Aided by Fox News, AM Hate Radio and the right wing blogosphere of rage, Republicans were able to convince millions of people that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefor could not legally be president.
It didn't do anything to get Obama out of office but it allowed Republicans to justify their extreme obstructionism to their base and pay no penalty for essentially breaking the machinery of government. After all, if Obama is an illegitimate usurper, then it's the patriotic duty of every red-blooded (white) American to resist his evil agenda of getting health insurance for millions of people and saving the economy.
Lind is concerned about the violence Trump's refusal to concede will cause and she should be. Unlike previous Republican candidates, Trump has been appealing to the most violent and depraved part of our electorate. They honestly believe that the race war they so desperately long for is about to begin and "President" Trump will literally make America white again. When this fails to happen and Trump tells them the election was stolen, there's going to be a wave of racial violence unlike anything America has seen in decades.
But, again, this is not occurring in a vacuum. Republicans have primed the pump for decades and they will be just as responsible for the flood of violence on the horizon. They will try to distance themselves and blame Trump and his white supremacist followers but the blood will be on their hands just as much as Trump's.
During the Reconstruction period that followed the Civil War, the North did everything it could to not hold the South accountable for its actions and we're still paying for that mistake 150 years later. We owe it to ourselves and our children not to repeat the same mistake by letting Republicans pretend they had nothing to do with the coming civil unrest.
This time, we have to hold Republicans responsible for the monster they created.