What if Trump won’t accept defeat?

As their nominee unravels, Republicans worry where his scorched-earth, rigged-election rhetoric leads the GOP and the country.

The first image of a Trump campaign ad, released on Friday, is that of a polling place as a narrator alleges “the system” is “rigged”; and his campaign has already begun recruiting volunteers to monitor polling places, specifically in urban precincts where African-American voters, very few of whom support Trump, predominate.

Trump’s words are having an effect. Just 38 percent of Trump supporters believe their votes will be counted accurately, and only 49 percent of all registered voters are “very confident” their votes will be tabulated without error, according to a Pew Research survey last week.

The implications — short- and long-term — are serious. Interviews with more than a dozen senior GOP operatives suggest growing panic that Trump’s descent down this alt-right rabbit hole and, beyond that, his efforts to delegitimize the very institutions that undergird American democracy — the media and the electoral process itself — threaten not just their congressional majorities or the party’s survival but, potentially, the stability of the country’s political system.

.. “Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.

.. “Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen

.. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”

.. many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact.

.. He is a postmodern authoritarian who’s in the process of delegitimizing every institution — the media, the ballot box — that can be a check on him.”

.. “I can’t see the fever swamp, alt-reality media universe on the right learning the lessons of this,” Sykes said. “Can you see Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham saying, ‘OK, sorry, we screwed up’?”

.. But my fear is that Bannon and Trump uniting could be about them looking to do something long-term that would ensure this fringe element remains.”

The Sore Loser Uprising

the suggestion that civil unrest could follow if he’s denied the presidency.

 .. Trump has signaled that he will try to bring down our democracy with him. His overlooked comment — “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged” — is the opening move in a scheme to delegitimize the outcome.
.. Roger Stone. He will say things that even Trump will not say, usually as a way to allow Trump to later repeat some variant of them.
.. It was Stone who called a CNN commentator a “stupid Negro” and accused the Gold Star parents of Capt. Humayun Khan of being Muslim Brotherhood agents. And it was Stone who threatened to give out the hotel room numbers of unsupportive Republicans at the party convention, the better for the Trumpian mob to find them.
.. But Trump has crossed all barriers of precedent and civility, from waging an openly racist campaign to loose talk about nuclear weapons. He has challenged the independence of the judiciary system, and called for a religious test for entry into this nation. With this latest tactic, he’s trying to destabilize the country itself after he’s crushed.