Donald Trump's goal: Sow post-election chaos

Updated: 20 November, 2020 10:14 IST | Agencies | Washington

The resulting chaos and confusion that has created isn't the byproduct of Trump's strategy following his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden. The chaos and confusion is the strategy

US President Donald Trump. File pic/AFP
US President Donald Trump. File pic/AFP

President Donald Trump is trying to turn America's free and fair election into a muddled mess of misinformation, specious legal claims and baseless attacks on the underpinnings of the nation's democracy.

The resulting chaos and confusion that has created isn't the byproduct of Trump's strategy following his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden. The chaos and confusion is the strategy.

But it won't help him

Trump's blizzard of attacks on the election are allowing him to sow discontent and doubt among his most loyal supporters, leaving many with the false impression that he is the victim of fraudulent voting. That won't keep Trump in office — Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20 — but it could both undermine the new president's efforts to unify a fractured nation and fuel Trump in his next endeavour, whether that's another White House run in 2024 or a high-profile media venture.

The effects of Trump's strategy are starting to emerge. A Monmouth University poll out on Wednesday showed that 77 per cent of his supporters said Biden's victory was due to fraud, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

More than two weeks after Election Day, Trump's approach remains both stunning and unsurprising. It amounts to an unprecedented attack on a democratic election by a sitting American president — one the Republican Party has been largely silent in condemning. But it is also precisely the scenario Trump spent much of 2020 laying the groundwork for, particularly with his unfounded claims that mail-in ballots would be subject to systemic fraud. That wasn't true before 2020 or in this election.

None should be surprised

"His response should surprise no one. He foreshadowed it well before the election and it continues his pattern of declaring victory, regardless of the actual facts," said Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican governor of Minnesota. The facts in this instance are not in dispute.

Rather than overturn the poll results, Trump allies say the goal is to help keep the president's most loyal supporters engaged and energised for whatever he might pursue after he leaves office — even if that means leaving them ill-informed about the reality of what has unfolded in the election.

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First Published: 20 November, 2020 08:14 IST

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