n Wednesday, this was the exchange between a reporter and President Donald Trump at a news conference.
In the White House, we must note:
Reporter: “Will you commit here, today, for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?”
Trump: “We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster and -- “
Reporter: “I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power -- “
Trump: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful -- there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control.”
By ballots, he is referring to the instruments we use to cast votes in America. Trump is particularly upset that millions of us plan to mail in our ballots, rather than show up in person in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in this country.
During his presidency, we must also note.
A sitting U.S. president has threatened to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power if he loses reelection. If that does not alarm you -- never mind. You’ve already stopped reading. God bless you, because I surely can’t.
There are certain things we have come to count on in this country. That list has been dwindling faster than a lighted matchstick in recent months. Many of us believe the peaceful transfer of presidential power to be a crucial part of a stable democracy. Call us patriots.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted this:
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
This might be more comforting were it not cast as a random mumbling as he walks out to water the flowering shrubs. No mention of Trump. No promise to make sure he leaves if he is defeated.
The next day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to deflect ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl’s follow-up question by mocking the reporter who had asked the original question. His name is Brian Karem. He writes for Playboy magazine, which featured Trump on its 1990 cover. A framed copy of it hung on the wall in Trump’s office for years.
Karl’s question: “If he loses this election, can you assure us that there will be a peaceful transfer of power?”
McEnany’s response: “You are referring to the question asked by the Playboy reporter, right?”
Karl asked again, and McEnany emphasized again the word “Playboy” before claiming that Karem’s question reflected his “deranged wish” that Trump be defeated. Then she said Trump would “accept the results of a free and fair election.” OK.
Later that same day, when asked by a reporter if he would consider the November election results valid only if he wins, Trump doubled down. “We want to make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be.” That’s a lie. Also, again, the president of the United States suggested he will obstruct a peaceful transfer of power should he lose to Joe Biden.
No president who respects America talks this way about America, but that horse galloped out of the stable a long time ago and is now flying with unicorns.
This is not the language of a man who thinks he’s going to win.
This is how you talk when, everywhere you look, all you can see is a landslide headed your way.
I don’t have a second’s worth of hope left for people who still support Donald Trump. My hope, every last ounce of it, is invested in those who will vote to stop him.
I like my odds.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism.