Trump's greatest offense against democracy is claiming the election will be rigged

Hence the following chain of reasoning: If Trump wins the election, it was fair. But if he loses the election, it was rigged against him and he never had a chance. If critics respond by pointing out that this outcome was predicted by countless polls, Trump will then say that the polls were skewed in Hillary Clinton’s favor all along.

If Trump wins, he wins. And if he loses, he wins. There is simply no legitimate outcome short of a Trump victory.

That is pure political poison. It represents a break with democratic norms far more complete than anything else suggested by the Trump campaign at the level of either policy or rhetoric.

Liberal democratic government depends on all candidates for office accepting the legitimacy of the outcome. If you win, great. If you lose, vow to return to campaign another day, knowing that before long today’s victor will face another contest in which he or she could be defeated. Trump’s insinuation about a rigged election rejects this entire civic bargain: The people want me right now, he claims, but “the system” won’t permit it.