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Better the Trump You Know

By Cristian D. Pleters, Crimson Staff Writer

America’s prophet of doom won the election, and now liberals are the ones forecasting apocalypse. After Donald J. Trump’s upsetting upset victory, reports of racially motivated harassment and violence have surfaced from Pennsylvania to California. Trump has yet to swagger into the White House, but he has already managed to create a miasma of hatred that has left America wondering what could possibly be worse than four loathsome years of a Trump presidency.

That question is depressingly easy to answer: A Trump loss.

Trump’s victory has fomented hatred already, but his loss would have plunged the country into an existential political crisis. If the left believes Trump’s victory has inspired an unacceptable amount of contempt among the public, we ought to consider the hostility that would have been instigated had he failed.

Trump’s dangerous electoral cynicism and predilection for thuggish behavior were a powder keg that was prepared to blow if he lost—and that was when the polls showed him losing. What would have happened if he and Clinton traded places, with Trump winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College, right after polls foreshadowed a win for him?

Trump sycophant Roger Stone put it concisely when he predicted a “bloodbath.”

From the beginning of his run and up until the eve of his victory, Trump expressed unprecedented contempt for the country’s electoral system. He said that the election was “rigged.” He warned of voter fraud. He even peddled an ugly conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros controlled the election. Girding himself for loss like a petulant child, he whined that that game was fixed.

And his supporters believed him. Polls that showed staggering majorities of them worried about voter fraud, secret conspiracies to fix the election, and improper counting of votes. Crowds cheered as Trump joked that he would accept the election results—but only if he won. Trump successfully whipped up a delirium of doubt in our electoral process with the alacrity of a third world strongman.

But the problem was not just that Trump was exceptionally jaundiced. His supporters were also exceptionally violent. Armed with the doubt incited by Trump, their post-loss mutiny would have been calamitous—all because Trump is incapable of containing his ego, all because he is a self-proclaimed “winner.”

We have seen the Trump who wins: He is a scammer, a lecher, a sexual assaulter, and a xenophobe. But the Trump who loses is an unknown quantity because even when he loses, he manages to spin his small potatoes defeats into victories.

Yet to spin a presidential loss into a presidential win is a fool’s errand for even the most deluded loser. Trump may have convinced his base that the election was trumped up, but the weight of history and reality stood in the way of his ludicrous claim from catching on. So if Trump lost this time, he was going to lose for real, and we were going to see the real, unknown, dangerous losing Trump.

And that losing Trump was poised to wreak havoc. With no political career to salvage, and nothing to lose, Trump was prepared to goad his bellicose supporters into breaking all hell loose, causing an unprecedented electoral crisis—all to save his massive, fragile ego. The results would have been devastating for our country. There would be political pandemonium. For every instance of hatred the country has seen since Trump’s win, there would have been countless more for a Trump loss.

The “winning” Trump is odious, but at least we know who he is. The losing Trump is an unknown who was prepared to unleash a wave of unforeseen terror.

We are lucky that that terror never materialized. Because the candidate who respects our electoral system lost, and the candidate who disdains it won, we averted crisis. In a twisted way, we are fortunate that Trump won—it is not far-fetched to think that liberals would be thinking the grass were greener right now if Trump lost and made good on his promise to stir up chaos.

It is not fair that Democrats had to be the adults in the room and graciously accept loss. But their integrity is what will ensure that our electoral system continues to function properly. When historians look back at this bizarre election, they will note that it was ironically Clinton’s loss that kept our country from descending into hellish Trumpian bedlam.

Cristian D. Pleters '
19, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Lowell House.

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