President Trump’s refusal so far to concede Election 2020 to Democrat Joe Biden, nine whole days after Election Day and with over two months left in his first term, and with the official Electoral College count still over a month away, terrified the New York Times into comparing him to a motley crew of world dictators, in a repellent report on the front page of Thursday’s edition: “Trump Borrows Election Tactics From Autocrats,” by reporter Andrew Higgins.
The online headline deck read “Trump’s Post-Election Tactics Put Him in Unsavory Company -- Denying defeat, claiming fraud and using government machinery to reverse election results are the time-honored tools of dictators” and then began (click “expand”):
When the strongman ruler of Belarus declared an implausible landslide victory in an election in August, and had himself sworn in for a sixth term as president, the United States and other Western nations denounced what they said was brazen defiance of the voters’ will.
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s victory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, was “fraud.” Mr. Pompeo added: “We’ve opposed the fact that he’s now inaugurated himself. We know what the people of Belarus want. They want something different.”
Just a month on, Mr. Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, is now borrowing from Mr. Lukashenko’s playbook, joining a club of truculent leaders who, regardless of what voters decide, declare themselves the winners of elections.
That club counts as its members far more dictators, tyrants and potentates than leaders of what used to be known as the “free world” -- countries that, led by Washington, have for decades lectured others on the need to hold elections and respect the result.
Higgins generously admitted:
The parallel is not exact. Mr. Trump participated in a free and fair democratic election. Most autocrats defy voters before they even vote, excluding real rivals from the ballot and swamping the airwaves with one-sided coverage.
But when they do hold genuinely competitive votes and the result goes against them, they often ignore the result, denouncing it as the work of traitors, criminals and foreign saboteurs, and therefore invalid. By refusing to accept the results of last week’s election and working to delegitimize the vote, Mr. Trump is following a similar strategy.
Higgins scoured the world to find evil people to compare to Trump, and casually compared the elected U.S. president to a war criminal (click “expand”):
Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump has adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia -- refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. The tactics also include undermining confidence in democratic institutions and the courts, attacking the press and vilifying opponents.
Like Mr. Trump, those leaders feared that accepting defeat would expose them to prosecution once they left office. Mr. Trump does not have to worry about being charged with war crimes and genocide, as Mr. Milosevic was, but he does face a tangle of legal problems.
In November 2010, President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast refused to accept his loss in an election, suppressing protests with live ammunition, killing dozens and dragging the country into a brief civil war in which over 3,000 people died.
Like Mr. Trump, he freely used government machinery to challenge the election result, insisting he had not been defeated. The crisis stretched out over almost five months and brought Ivory Coast to its knees economically.
Higgins continued adding to his monster rally of dictators to shame Trump into conceding less than two weeks after the election, with votes still uncounted and the Electoral College meetings in December: “Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who seized power in 1973 in a military coup in Chile, accepted defeat in a 1988 constitutional referendum that would have allowed him to stay in office, and relinquished the presidency in 1990 after an opponent won a presidential vote.”
Higgins's lazy, tiresome arguments included him blaming Trump for the bad behavior of world dictators:
Just in September, the Trump administration imposed additional sanctions against what it called the “Maduro regime’s attempts to corrupt democratic elections in Venezuela.”
Now, Mr. Trump is also refusing to accept the election results.
Higgins enjoys comparing Trump to murderous dictators. After Trump accused fake news purveyors of being an “enemy of the people” in 2017, Higgins compared Trump to Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung.