During his many years in business, Donald Trump has developed something of a pattern: He convinces people to put money or effort into some silly venture and then mismanages it until it's all but worthless. Investors lose some or all of their money, and clients or contractors get stiffed. But Trump always walks away from the wreckage unscathed.
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This is what he did in 1995 when he declared a $916 million loss following the spectacular failures of his Atlantic City casinos, his airline and his purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. This let him turn a loss of nearly $1 billion of other people’s money into a tax asset. So when it comes to the sordid list of Trump’s business failures, take your pick.
In the third debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump did it again when he refused to commit to accepting the election result if he loses. He told moderator Chris Wallace that he will “look at it at the time” and “keep you in suspense.” The next day, in what might have been Trump’s warped version of a mea culpa, he said he would “totally accept the results,” adding a bit ominously, “if I win.”
That Trump lost the debate should be clear to anyone with at least one ear in working order. That he will lose the election also seems near certain. But Trump has now shown he has no intention of simply losing the election and going away quietly.
Instead, he casually threw a Molotov cocktail into the heart of American democracy and its most crucial and durable feature – the peaceful transfer of power. He has essentially ensured that after he loses on November 8, Americans will have to deal with the wreckage he leaves behind.
Of all the dangerous things Trump has said during this election, his refusal to accept the result and the doubt he’s trying to cast on the integrity of the electoral process is the most dangerous.
This is a scorched-earth tactic meant to save face. It essentially ensures that millions of people will believe that the election was rigged. They might refuse to accept its outcome.
Given that Americans have enjoyed 240 years of peaceful transitions of power, we simply have no idea where this rhetoric might lead. Will people take up arms to prevent the “disaster” that’s the Clinton presidency? Even Marco Rubio still says she’s worse than Trump.
Following months of unprecedented incitement, many people believe their country is being stolen by a secret cabal of media-backed “international bankers,” rendering the electoral process and the very idea of American democracy a sham. This toxic cocktail is being brought to you courtesy of the man responsible for Trump Vodka and Trump Fire.
But one thing’s for certain: Donald Trump will not be leading the charge. Despite the fears about his latest comments, Trump simply doesn’t care enough about any of this to launch a rebellion against Clinton. Minutes after the debate, his son Donald Trump Jr. already said politics was a “step down” for his dad.
Trump will do what he has done after his previous business failures. He will move on to another con – Trump TV probably – letting the rest of America repair what he has done.
We can’t say we haven’t been warned.