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A poor loser?

Mr Biden’s campaign was quick to dismiss any threat, saying the government was quite capable of escorting a trespasser out of the White House.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Mr Donald Trump has spent the better part of his Presidency provoking outrage with his statements, never more than in the past few months when his administration has reacted in occasionally inexplicable ways to the coronavirus challenge and as he himself seeks another crack at office. But his statement in an interview to an American television channel on Sunday that he would have to see if he would accept the election result should he lose in November led to collective jaw-dropping across America and much of the world.

The question was a specific one ~ would he accept a loss? The answer was, “Look, you ~ I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes’. I’m not going to say no and I didn’t last time either.” Asked if he was a good loser, Mr Trump said he was not.

Astounding as the thought of a President not accepting an electoral defeat may seem to billions around the world who have long believed democratic principles and conventions are inviolate in America, speculation around Mr Trump’s reaction to a loss ~ especially if it is by a narrow margin – has been mounting for several weeks and specially after the President in a tweet on 22 June said the election would be rigged with “millions of mail-in ballots printed by foreign countries and others.”

Asked on Sunday if he still believed this would be the case, Mr Trump was if anything just as emphatic, stating, “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.” While the vision of a vanquished President refusing to vacate the Oval Office is unnerving, his Democratic rival does not seem unduly perturbed. Mr Biden’s campaign was quick to dismiss any threat, saying the government was quite capable of escorting a trespasser out of the White House.

Twenty years ago, there was public wrangling over the outcome of a Presidential election because of the infamous Florida recount and it was after five weeks that the American Supreme Court decided that George W Bush would take oath as President, even though his rival Al Gore had won the popular vote.

The difference of course was that neither Mr Bush nor Mr Gore occupied the White House at the time and were hardly in position to lay petulant siege to the office. How gracefully Mr Trump accepts defeat, if indeed he loses, is a matter for the future. For now, though, several Americans will be mortified by the prospect of their President behaving like a third-world potentate who will not let go of power.

Certainly, one analyst was shocked enough to comment that if such an election had been taking place elsewhere, Americans would have been scrambling to send out observers. A final thought. Alarmed by worry over what might follow a narrow verdict, fence-sitting Americans may decide to ensure that the margin is sizeable enough to erase doubt. If that happens, Mr Trump may rue his words.