Trump’s Refusal to Concede: Both Laughable and Terrifying

Trump is refusing to admit defeat in this election and has been tweeting dangerous things about ballot counting.

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Donald Trump has a long history of tweeting dumb and downright inappropriate things, dating back to before he was even elected president. His tweets have often caused some trouble, but most of the time, I just find myself laughing at them. Though Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, is partially responsible for running Trump’s Twitter account, journalist Robert Draper claims that most of the outlandish tweets that garner attention are all Trump’s doing. Notable gems include “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure; it's not your fault” and “I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.” However, I never found myself thinking that his tweets would ever get to a point where they would become dangerous. Even for the tweets that did pose a bit of a threat, I always laughed them off, thinking no one took him seriously. However, I realize now that there’s a large crowd of people who do believe him, and that reality is the scary part.

It was official that Joe Biden had won the election on November 7 and that there was no possible circumstance under which Trump could garner enough electoral votes to win. Amassing a total of 306 votes, Biden won the election fair and square—but Trump has refused to accept that. Trump insists that the media was lying and the ballots had been counted incorrectly. He refuses to admit defeat, and though he will eventually be forced to vacate the presidency, this event could lead to the normalization of refusals to cede power and efforts to overturn election results. If one still doesn’t see this situation as dangerous, political scientist Brendan Nyhan proposes this thought experiment: pretend the situation was happening in a different country. Imagine that a president of a different country lost the election and refused to peacefully transfer power. He lied about ballot counts and pressured other officials to support him. One would certainly view this as a threat to democracy and an attempt at a borderline dictatorship. Even though it is very unlikely that Trump will actually pull this off, the implications of his actions are still dangerous.

When I looked on Twitter to see the damage for myself, I was shocked. There were dozens of tweets insisting there had been voter fraud and a rigged election, some even making blatantly false claims that Trump had won the race. The sheer number of these tweets is what surprised me most. And Trump himself was tweeting almost every hour, making me wonder if the man ever spends 10 minutes off of Twitter. The tweets—from Trump and his supporters alike—are both hilarious and frightening. One tweet from Trump says that he actually won Pennsylvania because of uncounted votes. He also claims that he’s won three million more votes than he actually has and that many of the mail-in ballots are fake. And of course, there are the dozens of nearly identical tweets saying “ballot counting abuse” or “people will not accept this rigged election.” Trump continues to emphasize the fact that all of the votes for him are legitimate, but only the ones for Biden are fake. As he has done repeatedly in the past, he’s also been calling out the media and claiming that everything they say is false, writing, “Since when does the Lamestream media call who our next president will be...” and encouraging his followers to listen to non-mainstream sources.

And that impact is a whole other issue: the effect these tweets are having on Trump’s supporters. Though most of the replies to his tweets are telling him to accept the fact that he lost the election, there’s still a scary number of his cult-like supporters listening and believing everything he says. Trump has a big influence on a large group of people and when he starts spitting out false information about the election results, they actually believe him. Many Trump supporters have been gathering and protesting because of this impact, most of them not wearing masks while doing so. However, it’s not just his supporters who are backing Trump. Many Republican officials are supporting him, though it seems as if most of them are just trying to preserve their own power, not help Trump. They want to avoid angering him and remain popular among Republican voters. Even so, this kind of support will only fuel Trump more. If he thinks he has a large following behind him, he’ll only get more confident and try harder to stay in power. However, it is still possible to move forward as a country. We must put faith into our democratic system and know that when January 20 rolls around, Trump will be removed from office, and the actual elected president, Joe Biden, will take office.

Twitter has not done enough to mitigate the effects of Trump’s tweets. The most that is being done to stop him is a warning label on some of his tweets saying “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” Considering the danger of the situation, Twitter should at least be deleting these tweets, if not suspending his account. In general, more should be done to slow the spread of misinformation on social media. There are many who claim that eliminating or even just putting a warning on misinformed social media posts is the first step towards censorship. However, when a person has as much influence as Trump does, it’s especially important that what he says is true. Trump spreading misinformation about the election is far more dangerous than censorship. Social media platforms have the right to decide what should and shouldn’t be on their platform in order to prevent bullying, inappropriate behavior, and spreading false information. Especially in a time like this, with the pandemic and civil unrest in this country still raging, making sure the public is properly informed should be a top priority.