During yet another Twitter blitz of disinformation about 2020 election, President Donald Trump inadvertently made an admission on Sunday morning that he has thus far avoided: Joe Biden won the presidency. Though that admission didn't last long.
It wasn't the most gracious concession, to be sure, since the admission came in tweet saying the election was rigged against him. But his post quickly lit up with critics taking the qualified concession with glee, since it at least acknowledged the legal reality that Trump's term will expire on Jan. 20. And perhaps there was reason to hope it showed the president, every so slightly, moving in the direction of accepting his loss and permitting a peaceful transition of power to occur.
Former Vice President Al Gore, after all, eventually admitted defeat in 2000 after a contentious recount battle, even though many Democrats never felt that contest was fairly decided. That race, though, was far closer the 2020 election and had significant evidence of errors that likely affected the final vote tally.
Trump's tweet admitting Biden won contained outright lies about the process, since there were election observers of both parties permitted around the country (as the president's lawyers have repeatedly admitted in court) and there's no sign at all of significant errors or malfeasance in the vote tabulation (at the president's own administration has attested):
He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left pri… https://t.co/jWJzfO7zcn— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1605444474.0
But as critics and taunters heaped mockery on the president, he apparently regretted his incidental concession. Following the admission, he sent a pair of tweets contradicting his claim that Biden won:
RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1605449771.0
He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1605449991.0
There was something darkly comical about the president being unable to manage his own disinformation campaign about the election and so casually admitting defeat. But the truth is that his claims about the election are so egregiously wrong and pernicious that they threaten the stability of American democracy. It is very difficult for elected government to continue if half the country believes that the opposition party is fundamentally illegitimate. And that's exactly what Trump is encouraging his followers to think. The result will probably be a Republican Party more committed than ever to sabotaging Democratic governance and subverting democracy, while a radical far-right fringe becomes increasingly dangerous.