What happens if Trump loses but doesn’t accept the results? His ass does not plan to go quietly

Over the past several weeks, faced with characterizations as a sexual predator (loaded with ample evidence) and increasingly dubious poll numbers as a result, Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken to citing the “rigged system” of media coverage and the electoral college as reasons for his own failures.On Wednesday night, Trump told debate moderator Chris Wallace he would keep Americans “in suspense,” refusing to answer definitively whether or not he would accept the results. So, what happens if Trump loses but refuses to concede? Right now, at least, it doesn’t look like the Republican nominee plans to go quietly, so let’s examine.

Trump’s hypothetical refusal to defy the will of the people and not accept the results of election would likely predicate on his smear campaign against the “system,” whatever that entails. He constantly identifies the “system” as the political media, among other entities, and decries it as biased for doing its job, offering coverage, and contextualizing his scandals, accusations against him, and the abundant evidence of his incompetence, lack of professionalism, and childish nature. His assertions that because the media refuses to turn a blind eye on his bullshit, it is therefore biased and dishonest serve to delegitimize news media in the eyes of his supporters, which means some millions of Americans will no longer accept basic truth and objective reporting.

On a similar but arguably more concerning level, Trump’s refusal to concede and his (hypothetical) unfounded claims that the election was rigged against him by election officials would delegitimize not only the Clinton administration but also the government as a whole, to millions of Americans who support him.

Sure, the system around elections is not entirely bereft of dishonesty and shadiness. Notably, in the Democratic primaries, many independents reported not being allowed to vote despite state laws allowing this. At the Iowa caucus, coin tosses were used to determine who (between Clinton and then-presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders) won certain particularly competitive precincts. And, of course, 2000’s Bush v. Gore episode was and remains questioned by many skeptics critical of how the electoral college seemingly robbed the candidate who won the popular vote of the presidency.

But as The Los Angeles Times points out, despite Trump’s complaints of a “rigged” election, Republicans are predominantly the ones who oversee most of the balloting; there is little reason to believe they would favor Clinton. Trump can almost never cite actual evidence of systemic bias against him, beyond unfavorable portrayals of his unfavorable words and deeds. But considering all that his supporters have believed from him without any evidence about Mexican immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, and other marginalized groups he consistently misrepresents, why would his supporters suddenly require evidence from him to believe the system is rigged?

As if all of this weren’t terrifying enough, let’s not forget the tendency of Trump supporters en masse to get violent and Trump’s less-than-subtle encouragement of this.

At the end of the day, we can only hope Trump will have the maturity and reason to accept his fate, whatever it may be, and encourage his supporters to do same. Because frankly, it’s either that or a divisive cultural war our already deeply polarized political system might not be able to overcome.