The musing has been taken by Democrats as a rallying cry for their base to make sure they come out a vote come next November….
Of course, Democratic fears aren’t completely unfounded. Trump has shattered political norms at every turn, and suggested in 2016—when he was widely believed to be headed for defeat at the hands of Hillary Clinton—that he might not accept the results of that election. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” he said in response to a debate question as to whether he’d acknowledge his loss if Clinton won. Of course, Trump did win, yet he’s still contested the results, frequently complaining that supposed voter fraud kept him from winning the popular vote. Given his disregard for political norms, and the fact that his most controversial proposals often begin as insinuation, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he at least sees some truth to Falwell’s pitch.
On the other hand, the notion that Trump would seek to extend his term is likely extreme, in no small part because he appears too incompetent to go full authoritarian. Still, there’s real danger to Trump sowing doubt about the legitimacy of elections, even if he willingly returns to his life as a reality TV bozo and unsuccessful steak salesman. Trump has already lent legitimacy to myriad conspiracy theories. His repeated claims of victimhood have led to violent threats, including the attempted bombings by MAGA fanatic Cesar Sayoc last fall of dozens of Democratic figureheads. It’s easy to imagine baseless claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election riling up his most unhinged supporters….