November's election is the coming 2020 train wreck
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden agree on one thing -- the other side is trying to steal the election.
Trump told a gathering of students in Phoenix that this "will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country."
He amplified the point, a constant theme of his, in a tweet: "RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!"
The president of the United States actively undermining faith in the electoral process is gross and unprecedented, but he's not alone.
Asked by Trevor Noah of "The Daily Show" whether he worried the election would be rendered "moot" by his supporters being prevented from voting, Biden replied: "It's my greatest concern. My single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election."
This wasn't an isolated comment. "Mark my words," he warned in May, "I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held."
Yes, if there is one thing everyone can now agree on, it's our inability to pull off a free and fair election.
We are probably headed to the ugliest electoral smashup since 1876, when the contest between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden went into overtime, with each party claiming it had won Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina.
Perhaps a handy victory by Biden or, much less likely, Trump will take the edge off the postgame acrimony, but it is going to be ugly regardless. If the election is close, the aftermath will be a norm-busting extravaganza of conspiracy theories, lawsuits and, at the very least, threats to take it to the streets.
If Trump loses, there's unlikely to be a concession phone call -- one of the little grace notes of our democracy -- and he will argue that he was undone by Democratic cheating. Heck, he won in 2016 and still maintained he'd been cheated.