Donald Trump's hostage politics

Refusal to accept election outcomes in modern American politics is not unique to Mr. Trump. Much of the Democratic Party and intellectual class did not accept the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory. Stacey Abrams, the celebrated Georgia gubernatorial candidate, has still refused to concede that she lost in 2018. In 2021 congressional Democrats initiated an effort to overturn a certified Iowa House race before thinking better of it.

One crucial difference between Mr. Trump and those Democrats is that Democrats would never be self-defeating enough to try to leverage their election gripes against the interests of their own voters. Democrats have endorsed and amplified Ms. Abrams’s fictions of a stolen election to turn out more Democratic voters so that progressive policies might prevail in the future.

Mr. Trump’s calculus works differently. When his ego is on the line, his voters’ interests are secondary. He might not like it if progressives control government and choke off American energy production or bludgeon social-media companies to censor conservatives. But his priority is that GOP candidates show obeisance to his claims that he was robbed in November. And he’s willing to help Democrats if Republicans refuse or even stay silent.