Trump’s Sore-Loserism Knows No Bounds

Trump’s Sore-Loserism Knows No Bounds

Trump’s Sore-Loserism Knows No Bounds

The president’s dismissal of 2020 results, and his demand that the election be redone, are entirely at odds with the intent of the founders.


Two years after Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by more than 7 million votes, he is still angling for a redo. The twice-impeached president thinks he was cheated out of what he imagines should have been his second term, completely overlooking the fact that voters chose by a 51.3-46.8 margin to place their trust in Joe Biden.

Trump’s got no legitimate claim on the presidency. That’s been established again and again, by local and state officials, by Congress, and by the courts. But this reality has not prevented the shameless former president from making ever-more-outlandish statements regarding the affront he has supposedly experienced. Even after he announced his 2024 presidential candidacy, Trump continues to obsess about 2020. He can’t get over the fact that Americans rejected him and, rather than provide voters with a reason to reconsider him in the next election, he’s sending ominously antidemocratic signals about disregarding not just the will of the people but the Constitution as well.

The defeated former president imagines two possible remedies for his disempowerment, as he explained in a Truth Social posting last Saturday: “Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?”

Trump has signaled that he would accept either adjustment. The problem is that his proposed remedies are rooted in fantasy. There is no formal, nor informal, mechanism for installing a defeated candidate as the president, or for rerunning an election in which the votes were cast, counted, recounted, certified, and accepted by bipartisan majorities in the US House and the US Senate as credible. But, of course, for Trump that’s no problem. He simply says, “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

Stung by criticism of that statement, Trump claimed on Monday that his explicit call for “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” was somehow misinterpreted. But, even as he suggested that there was more to his thinking, Trump returned to his basic premise with a declaration that “if an election is irrefutably fraudulent, it should go to the rightful winner or, at a minimum, be redone. Where open and blatant fraud is involved, there should be no time limit for change!”

By that standard, the heirs to Samuel J. Tilden could stake a claim on the presidency that was grabbed away from the Democratic candidate amid the scheming that followed the election of 1876. And Al Gore might even step up with some questions regarding the election of 2000.

That’s not going to happen, for Tilden, Gore, or Trump.

The Constitution includes no sore-loser provision. What it does is outline a system for electing the president of the United States that Trump would like to disregard.

So, whether he uses the word “terminate” or some other term, Trump is talking about ignoring the Constitution to which he swore an oath that bound him “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Trump is out of office, but his respect for the oath, while he was serving and since then, has always been suspect—as has been his understanding of the basic tenets of American democracy.

Those tenets underpin a process that has evolved over time. And the founders recognized the need for that evolution. One of the earliest amendments to the Constitution, the 12th, reworked the method for selecting the president and vice president. The key figure in drafting the initial Constitution, James Madison, was around for the enactment of the 12th Amendment, and throughout his long life he continued to comment on the appropriateness of new amendments to clarify and improve the process. While it is fair to say that Madison did not want false and fraudulent elections, he was the great champion of stability. He didn’t favor overturning results or redoing elections that produced winners who disappointed or dissatisfied him.

So Trump is reimagining the Constitution—and the intentions of the founders—to serve his purposes. That comes as no great surprise, as there is so much evidence to suggest that he never took seriously his oath to defend the document. It is still fair to inquire, as did Khizr Kahn at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, about the former president’s familiarity with the nation’s democratic framework. “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future,” declared Khan, the Muslim father of an American soldier who died in Iraq. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the US Constitution?”

Trump said he had. But his statements and actions have done little to address suspicions that he might have missed some important sections. Like the part that says, concerning the review of Electoral College votes, “The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appoint.” In 2020, after flipping five states that Trump had won in 2016, Biden won the Electoral College vote by a comfortable margin of 306 to 232.

Biden’s victory claim was indisputable, as was the Constitution’s assertion that the winner “shall be the president.” Yet Trump has now been disputing the result and the assertion for more than two years. Along the way, he has incited his supporters to insurrectionist violence, earning for himself the highest US Senate vote for the conviction of an impeached president in American history—and an ongoing congressional inquiry into his agitation for a coup attempt.

Now, Trump ponders “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Perhaps before he agitates again for the overturning of an election that was conducted according to the dictates of the Constitution, Trump should familiarize himself with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of that document, which explains:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

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