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We should not be shocked by President Trump’s admission, in an interview this week with Chris Wallace, that he might not accept the results of the November election. After all, he said that before the 2016 election as well.
Yet the situation now is far more dangerous. For months, Trump has been unleashing forces that, come November, could cause tens of millions of Americans to be convinced the election was rigged. Even if Trump leaves office in January — voluntarily or not — he will likely leave behind a political climate that verges on civil war.
Trump is an avid fan of conspiracy theories. His political rise began with one — the notion that Barack Obama was born in Kenya — and he has embraced the most noxious peddler of falsehoods, Alex Jones. Trump and his associates have been stoking the QAnon movement, which imagines a battle between the president and a “deep state” of high-ranking officials and liberal elites who practice child torture and satanic worship. All these instincts are now being channeled into one idea, one great conspiracy: that the November vote will be rigged.