That's Russ — who's running for the Senate again here in Wisconsin — haranguing the protesters back in 2011, when the results of the last election were not being accepted. There had been a fair election. No one was saying there had been fraud or improper counting, but the protesters rejected the legitimacy of the outcome, began working on getting a recall election, and — for many weeks — chanted "This is what democracy looks like." That is: Democracy was — instead of accepting the results of the election — resisting conspicuously and vocally.
Now, let's look at what Donald Trump said at last night's debate:
The moderator, Chris Wallace, asked him if he would make a "commitment" that he will "absolutely accept the result of the election."
(I think I would have said: "It depends on what the meaning of 'result' is. If by 'result,' you mean that we have had a chance to look at exactly what happened in all of the states and we can see that the margin of victory is beyond all remaining allegations of fraud, then I will absolutely accept the result. But if you mean that in a close election, where there is suspicion of fraud or mishandling of the ballots, and the other side is calling that the 'result,' and that I should accept that 'result,' no I will not.")
Here's what Trump said:
I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I'll look at it at the time. What I've seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing. "The New York Times" actually wrote an article about it, but they don't even care. It is so dishonest, and they have poisoned the minds of the voters....Notice that Trump isn't talking about fraud and miscounting of ballots there. He's complaining that the voters made the wrong decision. We can't be rejecting the outcome of an election on the ground that the voters thought about it the wrong way! Trump has many good complaints about the media, but if distorted media invalidate elections, we can't have a democracy anymore. There will always be dishonesty and efforts to influence — poisoning — and if we can't get on with it anyway, the whole project of democracy is a bust.
Trump does go on to make a second point, the decent point, that there may be fraud:
If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote. Millions. This isn't coming from me. This is coming from Pew report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn't be registered to vote.This is the good point, and he needed to extend it and explain why irregularities in voting require him to withhold his acceptance of the purported results until we can see what happened. But he does not say that. He just drops the idea that there are a lot of names on the voting rolls that shouldn't be there, and stumbles forward trying to get to a different subject:
So let me just give you one other thing. I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I'll tell you one other thing. She shouldn't be allowed to run. It’s -- She's guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run, and just in that respect I say it's rigged because she should never --Wallace stops him:
Wallace: But, but --
Trump: Chris. She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.
Wallace: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power and no matter how hard fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?This is a grand statement by Wallace, and Trump should have shown respect for "that principle," while reminding us of the additional principle that the votes must be legitimate and properly counted and that he will not abandon one principle in preference to the other. Both are treasured, and he will protect both. Well... unless — expecting to lose — he really is laying the groundwork for a post-election political/media career premised on anger and grievance. The first woman President will be the one who gets no honeymoon.
What Trump did say was cutesy and snide:
What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense, okay?And that's where Hillary Clinton jumped in. She called it "horrifying." She said Trump had a habit of saying things are "rigged" whenever they are not going his way. She listed a bunch of things — such as Trump's saying the federal judge in the Trump University case couldn't be fair — and she ends with the silliest thing — the Emmys were rigged against his TV show.
Trump riffs on that last thing: "Should have gotten it." That's cute and gets a laugh, but he needs to be serious. This is important, and he's going for the opening to be funny. Clinton takes advantage:
Clinton: This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks, and it's funny, but it's also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works. We've been around for 240 years. We've had free and fair elections. We've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election. You know, President Obama said the other day when you're whining before the game is even finished....And that's where Chris Wallace calls an end to this segment of the debate. Hillary gets in a few more words. Trump is "denigrating" and "talking down our democracy" and "I, for one, am appalled...."
And Trump has a few more words but they are off topic (about the email controversy), and Wallace steps back in, more firmly, and shuts the door on what will be the biggest story coming out of the debate: