Editorial: This is Trump – now let’s vote

Friday, October 21, 2016

The bottom fell out of Republican Donald Trump’s sagging campaign at Wednesday night’s presidential debate when he refused to say – twice – whether he would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election. “I will tell you at the time,” Trump told the moderator, Chris Wallace. And like the good showman he is, Trump added, “I’ll keep you in suspense.”

On Thursday, as if this was a joke, he said he’d accept the results, “if I win.”

It is wrong for any candidate for president to toy with our nation’s confidence in fundamental tenets of our democracy – free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power. We believe Trump has cemented what should be obvious by now – that he is totally unfit to be president of the United States. He is not even fit to lose the presidential race.

With the polls showing he will be defeated by his Democratic challenger, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Trump ramped up his loser’s strategy, claiming that the system is rigged against him and that the media is out to get him. Without a shred of evidence, Trump has charged there is widespread voter fraud.

Trump stokes his cheating charge with racial overtones telling his supporters to monitor cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis. This is the cynical art of voter suppression. It is a challenge to the integrity of our elections that must be flatly rejected – especially by Republicans who still stand by Trump.

In Trumpworld, the blame goes on. He says Clinton and her “sleazy” campaign got nine women to come forward and accuse him of unwanted sexual advances, which he said are lies. These women had “their 10 minutes of fame,” he said. Trump, of course, is entitled to his denial, but that defense is insulting to every woman who has stood up to unwanted advances from a powerful man.

Trump and his surrogates whine that the media doesn’t want to talk about the issues, when in fact both candidates have faced endless – often unfavorable – scrutiny in print, on television and online. Some suspect Trump is simply laying groundwork for his own post-election TV network. Just 30 minutes before the debate, the New York Times reported, Trump posted a live broadcast on his Facebook page that looked like a “sneak preview,” complete with interviews and graphics.

There were other important exchanges during this third and final debate.

Trump said he would appoint “pro-life” members to the U.S. Supreme Court, which he said would “automatically” result in the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which established abortion rights. Clinton reinforced her commitment to defend “women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.”

When Clinton was questioned about a speech posted by WikiLeaks, she countered that 17 civilian and military intelligence experts have confirmed that the Russian government has hacked American websites and passed the information to WikiLeaks to influence the outcome of the election. Trump said he would “condemn” such interference by any country, but then went on to laud Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whom he said has outsmarted Clinton – and President Obama – at every turn. His willingness to undercut our government’s leaders is dangerous.

Clinton said she would raise taxes on wealthy Americans to shore up Social Security – increases that would hit her and Trump unless he figures out a way get out of it. Trump has refused to release his own tax returns, and, according to available records, may not have paid federal taxes in 18 years.

“Such a nasty woman,” Trump interrupted, leaning into the microphone as if he was gossiping with the audience. We point to Clinton’s observation earlier in the debate: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger . . . that’s who Donald is.”

These debates have been tense, and revealing. It will be a relief to finally vote, for Hillary Clinton, as part of an honorable and trustworthy process.