When we thought it couldn’t get any worse…

Conley Hurst

Nov. 8 couldn’t come any sooner. This presidential campaign has been the nastiest in recent memory, possibly one of the nastiest in American history. The divisive 2012 Obama-Romney cycle, a cycle in which “binders full of women” and “you didn’t build that” could pass for controversial statements, seems like a distant golden age of civility.

The debates of the past month haven’t offered any solace. They’ve featured name-calling, half-truths, threats of imprisoning opponents, and the cathartic, red-sweatered visage of Ken Bone (though he turned out to be a yuuuge disappointment as well).

Then there are the tapes of Donald Trump bragging about groping women and essentially getting away with sexual assault because he was a celebrity. At that point, I’m sure many Americans questioned how such a man could possibly be our next president.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.

In last week’s debate, moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump on his accusations that Hillary Clinton and the media are attempting to rig the election. Not being one to “apple-0-gize” as SNL’s Alec Baldwin put it, Trump doubled down. He refused to

commit to accepting the results of the election and claimed he would “look at it at the time.”

The next day, Trump reiterated his position, saying that he reserves the right to challenge a questionable outcome and would “totally accept the results of this great and historic election – if I win.”

The list of appalling statements made by Donald Trump during this election is almost endless. He has called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.” He has mocked journalists. He has called his opponents “weak,” “disgusting” and “nasty.” He has degraded women, minorities, and even highly respected members of his own party.

But Trump’s suggestion that the election is being fixed is more than offensive or uncivil. Questioning the legitimacy of a presidential election is an assault on the very foundation of American democracy. By doing so, Trump is doubting whether we as citizens can trust the most basic of our political institutions. This sets a dangerous precedent, possibly unheard of in mainstream American politics since the Civil War. With these comments, Donald Trump is showing himself, more than ever, to be resolutely unfit to be president. If he has to question the legitimacy of American democracy to win votes, how could he be a unifying voice for the American people? Regardless

of his policy positions, Trump utilizes rhetoric that undermines our American ideals and institutions and threatens perhaps the most sacred tradition in our history: the peaceful transition of power.

This is the first time for most W&L students to vote in a presidential election, our first time to have a say in the direction of our nation for the next four years and beyond. With this right comes a tremendous responsibility to consider the repercussions of the direction we choose.

While I have mixed feelings about the rest of the names on the ballot, there is one candidate that has consistently proven himself to be not only resolutely unfit for the office that he seeks but an actual threat to American democracy.

I hope that much of the W&L community would agree with me. But, regardless, I hope that we all choose to vote in what could be the most historic election of our lifetimes. Despite what The Donald says, there is authority and power in our American electoral system. It sets us apart and has been a beacon for democratic governance throughout history, though sometimes an imperfect one. Trump has already done damage to it with his rhetoric. My hope is that we as a nation will not allow him to go any further.