What could happen if Donald Trump rejects electoral defeat?
On Sunday, in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Donald Trump refused to commit to recognizing the outcome of the 2020 election. “I’m not going to just say yes,” the President said. “And I didn’t last time, either.” (Back in October, 2016, Trump was proclaiming that the election he went on to win was “rigged” against him.) He wasn’t telling us anything new, and yet we still have not learned to think of ourselves as a country where the President can lose an election and refuse to leave office.
Lawrence Douglas, a legal scholar and a professor at Amherst College, gave himself the task of methodically thinking through the unthinkable. The result is a slim book, “Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020.” Douglas begins by taking the President at his word. “While his defeat is far from certain,” he writes, “what is not uncertain is how Donald Trump would react to electoral defeat, especially a narrow one. He will reject the result.”