As we near the death throes of the US election campaign, it’s hard to find exactly which of Donald’s Trump’s statements are the most objectionable. Although Trump has stuck to the script in the past few weeks and his staff have reportedly taken away access to his Twitter account, it does not change the fact that Trump has increasingly sounded like a dictator, displaying a contempt for democracy and democratic processes.
If he is elected, this is what we can expect.
Threatening his opponents
Trump has said multiple times that Hillary Clinton “has to go to jail”, and during the second debate, when Clinton said “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Trump quipped back “because you’d be in jail”.
In the debate he also said he would use a “special prosecutor” to put Clinton away.
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney-general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” Trump said. “Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
The threats aren’t just limited to sending Clinton to jail. There have also been veiled threats on Clinton’s life, or incitements to violence. In a conversation about the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices as president, Trump said:
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” he said. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
At recent rallies, crowds have chanted “hang her in the streets” and “hang her up”.
Control over the media
A significant part of Trump’s populist argument includes railing against the media, as well as against his political opponents. After the media reported on his history of bragging about sexually assaulting women, Trump said he wanted “veto power” over the media.
“This system is so rigged… This is all down in the emails. She had veto power over what she said. I’ll tell you what. I want to have that too. I wanna have veto power …
“What a total joke. Our country’s in such trouble. That’s why — it’s just so ridiculous.
“The corporate media can’t report on the establishment because the corporate media is the establishment, such a big part of it.”
In February, Trump advocated for waterboarding as an interrogation technique, saying he’d “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. He has continued these sentiments, saying the US shouldn’t shy away from methods that would be considered “unthinkable” when combating Islamic State:
“Unthinkable, when you look at what’s happening to us, when you look at what’s going on in this country and throughout the world and we don’t want, you know they’re allowed to cut off heads and they’re allowed to chop off heads, and we can’t waterboard. So people can have disagreements, but I feel we have to get much, much, stronger, tougher and smarter.”
Claiming the election is rigged
Trump has also claimed that the election is “rigged” in favour of Clinton. Although he has no evidence of actual voter fraud, he’s also encouraging his supporters to watch polling places to ensure that people aren’t voting more than once.
At the third presidential debate:
“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, they don’t even care.
“It’s so dishonest and they have poisoned the minds of the voters. But unfortunately for them, I think the votes are seeing through it. I think they’ll see through it — we’ll find out on November 8, but I think they’re going to see through it.”
“She shouldn’t be allowed to run. 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.”
He won’t accept the outcome of the election
In the third election debate between Trump and Clinton, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he’d accept the outcome of the election. Trump left his answer troublingly vague.
“I’ll look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I’ll look at it at the time.”
After the question was repeated, he said:
“What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”
And at a rally after the election, Trump at last addressed the question.
“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all of the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election … if I win.”
“You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get your friends, and you’ve got to get everybody you know, and you’ve got to watch your polling booths because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas.
“I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about.”
“She can’t beat what’s happening here, the only way they can beat it, in my opinion — and I mean this 100% — if in certain sections of the state, they cheat.
“So I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the eighth, go around and look and watch other polling places.”