Donald Trump can't lose. His entire self-made mythology rests precariously on the premise that he's a winner. He says it over and over again because for Trump it's not simply a statement of purpose but the centerpiece of his brand. A public loss for Trump would be humiliating, sure, but it would also be a repudiation of everything he purports to be about. Without all that supposed winning, Trump is just some orange windbag with ridiculous hair who doesn't know how to properly tie a necktie. He's a joke. Granted, he's these things anyway, but it's his alpha-male braggadocio and his ability to bullshit idiots into thinking he succeeds at everything he tries that elevates him in the starstruck eyes of America's vast yokel contingent.
The specter of losing is what's led Donald Trump, whenever he's down in the polls, to claim that the election is somehow rigged against him. He's clenched his little fists and whined like a child that it's just not fair because the media and "Crooked Hillary" are conspiring to swindle him out of a victory, the only rational reason why he wouldn't win (since winning is what he does). Trump has to spin a potential loss so that it isn't a loss but rather a theft and he isn't a loser but rather a martyr. Because, again, Trump can't lose because losing without any outside excuses as to why would be both personally and professionally devastating.
Here's the thing, though: Trump is right about the election being rigged. He's been right all along and as the days inexorably dwindle down toward the end of this horror-show, it becomes more obvious just how true Trump's seemingly outlandish claims are. No, the means by which we elect a President of the United States -- the voting process itself -- isn't systemically rigged. He's predictably full of shit about that. But never in the history of U.S. presidential elections have so many forces both inside and outside our own government seemingly conspired to swing an election and put a specific candidate in the White House.
So Trump is right that the election is rigged. He's just wrong about who it's rigged in favor of.
Think about it for a minute. Has any presidential candidate ever had to run the kind of gauntlet that Hillary Clinton has over the past several months? Has any presidential candidate ever faced down this much organized opposition from this many separate sources? Has any U.S. campaign for the presidency been subjected to this much determined interference by entities both foreign and domestic, all of whom should have exactly zero role in influencing American politics? The answer to all of these questions is -- no. No way. Since the very beginning of her campaign, disparate forces have gathered and even aligned specifically to prevent Clinton from ever becoming president. And in the final weeks of the race, their efforts have reached a grotesque crescendo.
You can set aside the concentrated social media campaigns of the inconsolable leftist dead-enders and "dank memers," still determined to write in Bernie Sanders or throw their vote away on Jill Stein because Clinton isn't the political unicorn they believe is worthy of their precious votes. True, their public vow to deprive Clinton of the White House at all costs was among the first hurdles she had to try to clear, but looking at the fusillade of shit she's taken even since the primaries ended, that feels like a lifetime ago. Comforting daydreams from a simpler time. Sure, it was irrational, ill-informed hatred, but at least it was coming from people who can actually vote in the election.
Compare that to the unprecedented onslaught of hacks and leaks aimed at not simply taking down Clinton but elevating Donald Trump to the White House in her place. This is a naked attempt to actually subvert our electoral process and hijack the American presidency, almost certainly undertaken by none other than a foreign government and enemy of the United States (Vladimir Putin's Russia) and filtered through a rogue organization run by a narcissistic nihilist and accused rapist who believes the West is inherently evil (Julian Assange's Wikileaks). It can't be overstated: These are outside entities seeking to bend the future of the United States to their will by directly intruding in our political process. And their goal, day in and day out, is to thwart Clinton and Clinton alone. That's mind-boggling.
What's equally mind-boggling is this: Even if Hillary Clinton can overcome the relentless assault of stolen political ephemera unleashed by Russia and its Wikileaks stooges, she still has to contend with an FBI being used as a cudgel by people who seem determined to indiscriminately inflict damage on her. James Comey's vague, breathtakingly unethical announcement last week that e-mails that apparently didn't come from Clinton and had nothing at all to do with her were somehow suspicious appeared to be delivered for no other reason than to hint at some kind of impropriety on Clinton's part. It was an unnecessary shot fired in the final two weeks of the campaign during a time when Clinton was riding high in the polls.
Again, it's staggering the number of hits this woman has taken in what's really nothing more than a traditional and entirely benign campaign for president. True, anyone running for the highest office in the world should be thoroughly vetted and be ready to take some heat for who they are and what they believe, but what Clinton has endured during this campaign is the equivalent of being shoved into a bucket of thermite (and held there day after day by bad actors who have no business involving themselves in any of this). That a genuine monster like Trump is purposely the beneficiary of this underhanded political flaying makes it all the more outrageous.
If Hillary Clinton manages to barrel through this and thwart the designs of those determined to thwart her, it will be a near superhuman victory, considering. But all of this has hurt both her and the country. Should Clinton win, this filthy, ruthless and eminently unfair campaign of scorched earth against her will have created a schism that almost certainly won't heal anytime soon, if ever. The savaging she's taken by outsiders who wanted to destroy her and a despicable, feckless political opponent who promoted the intimidation of her supporters and who insisted that simple politics rose to the level of the criminal will leave us a wounded nation.
But if she does win none of that will matter, as Hillary Clinton will be President of the United States. The attempts to rig the election against her will have failed. And we'll be a better nation -- not a destabilizing force in the world, a historic embarrassment, and the puppet of a foreign power -- because of it.