Denying defeat, claiming fraud and using government machinery to reverse election results are the time-honored tools of dictators. — Andrew Higgins, The New York Times
Denying defeat, claiming fraud and using government machinery to reverse election results are the time-honored tools of dictators. — Andrew Higgins, The New York Times
Trump’s Post-Election Tactics Put Him in Unsavory Company
Denying defeat, claiming fraud and using government machinery to reverse election results are the time-honored tools of dictators.

... There is little indication that Mr. Trump can overcome the laws and institutions that ensure the verdict of American voters will carry the day. The country has a free press, a strong and independent judiciary, election officials dedicated to an honest counting of the votes and a strong political opposition, none of which exists in Belarus or Russia.

Still, the United States has never before had to force an incumbent to concede a fair defeat at the polls. And merely by raising the possibility that he would have to be forced out of office, Mr. Trump has shattered the bedrock democratic tradition of a seamless transition.

The damage already done by Mr. Trump’s obduracy could be lasting. Ivan Krastev, an expert on East and Central Europe at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, said Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede would “create a new model” for like-minded populists in Europe and elsewhere.

... Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump has adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia — refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. The tactics also include undermining confidence in democratic institutions and the courts, attacking the press and vilifying opponents.

Like Mr. Trump, those leaders feared that accepting defeat would expose them to prosecution once they left office. Mr. Trump does not have to worry about being charged with war crimes and genocide, as Mr. Milosevic was, but he does face a tangle of legal problems.

... But by insisting he won a vote that results show he clearly lost, he has broken sharply with the norms of countries that view themselves as mature democracies.

“Trump’s behavior is without precedent among leaders in Western democracies,” said Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard historian who has studied former communist states like Ukraine. “Even in military dictatorships, the dictators more often than not honor the results of elections and they retire if they lose them.”

That the United States has fallen in with such bad company has stirred dismay and mockery among not only Mr. Trump’s political foes but also citizens of countries long accustomed to having leaders who overstay their welcome.

... “The argument of ‘moral superiority’ that the United States had,” he said, “without a doubt is affected by Trump’s behavior.”