Whatever Trump is doing, it isn't a "coup"

There are closer parallels to leaders who, rather than launching a coup, simply ignore elections results they don’t like, such as Belarus’s Aleksandr Lukashenko, who claimed a very dubious landslide victory in elections in August. Lukashenko has faced months of unprecedented mass protests, though for the moment, still seems unlikely to lose power.

In a New York Times news article, the very existence of which is a measure of how bad things have gotten, Andrew Higgins writes, “Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump has adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia — refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud.”

The difference is that Trump isn’t actually presenting evidence of fraud—real or fabricated—that would come anywhere close to overturning the election. And thankfully, he’s also not in a position to use state violence to force officials, courts, or the media to change the result for him. This isn’t to defend Trump’s actions—he probably would use these tactics if he could—but to point out that so far, at least, he’s not doing the things that have previously helped authoritarians successfully overturn elections.