Donald Trump has dedicated a large amount of his campaign deriding the media and the Clinton campaign. This wasn’t especially surprising as there is a vast industry on the American Right castigating the ‘liberal media’, even though the US media is more biased in favour of corporate entities that prop up both Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of the truth of the statement, the idea of the US media being in the tank for the Democrats has become a famous talking-point and negative coverage of the GOP or conservative politicians can be linked back to this falsehood. For a very long time this has been a dormant concept and in some cases has just been a throw-away line by the Right, but Trump has now used this mistrust of the media to jettison facts.
Trump has recently stepped up the rhetoric when it comes to the election process, but this is not a new line of argument from the New York businessman. Back in August 2016, the Republican nominee said at a rally in Altoona, PA:
“We’re gonna watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times. The only way we can lose, in my opinion- and I really mean this Pennsylvania- is if cheating goes on. I really believe it”.
At this rally Trump planted a seed in people’s minds that if he loses, the only ‘logical’ explanation is that Clinton stole the election. I loath Hillary Clinton and I would love it if she was beaten to the Presidency by someone incredibly left-wing, but polls currently show that she has a national lead of between 5% and 6% points. In the case of Pennsylvania, the average of polls puts Clinton 7% points ahead of Trump. She will probably win Pennsylvania but the response from the far-right is a massive question mark.
n the last few days Trump and his surrogates have continued to peddle this idea of the election being rigged but there is nothing really to substantiate this claim. When people on news media panel shows talk about Trump they are mostly quoting what he has said verbatim. I’ve said this point before, but I’ll repeat myself: if you’re running for political office and the media quotes what you say, and this is offensive to you or makes your poll numbers go down, it’s not the press’ fault.
There have been moves by the Trump campaign to capitalise on this fear of rigging to recruit poll watchers, which is a euphemism for voter intimidation. These poll watchers will literally spend the entirety of election day watching people go into vote in order to catch people voting multiple times, which incidentally doesn’t really happen. Also, given the fact that the people supporting Trump are largely ingrates ignorant of all factual information, I strongly suspect that they shall seek to intimidate voters into voting for Trump or threatening people who vote for anyone else. I am more than happy to be proven wrong but if investigative reporting is anything to go by, then I fear I may be correct.
There are legitimate concerns that Trump supporters have but the ideas Trump has suggested to counter these problems are simply simply ridiculous. Trump’s supporters have been whipped up into a frenzy by right-wing radio hosts, politicians, and far-right agitators to make this election the be all and end all. The election will come and the election will go. If Clinton becomes president, what do they think she will do? She is the personification of incrementalism and a status quo politics, but for these Trump supporters she is the devil incarnate.
The Trump campaign are doing two things. Firstly, by asserting that the election will be rigged he can save face for the rest of his life. And secondly, by continuing to deride the state of the American media, he can use this ‘bias’ to justify the creation of his own media company after the election. Such operations are not unheard of in politics, but by encouraging racial hostility, discrimination, and armed insurrection Trump will go down in history as one of the most hateful people in US politics for a very long time. If the far-right’s delusions remain firm after the election then it may be panic stations, because if there are people who are angry and fetishise weaponry to absurd levels all coming together asserting that Clinton’s presidency was stolen it will not be pretty.