Of Course Trump Would Concede If He Lost

Eric Medlin
3 min readMay 8, 2019

A refusal to concede would be a true coup. Trump’s not prepared for that.

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Nancy Pelosi at the 2019 State of the Union. Source: Wikimedia

In an interview Saturday with the New York Times, Nancy Pelosi returned to a specter that has haunted Democrats since the beginning of the Donald Trump presidency. She mentioned her fear that if Democrats do not win every election by a wide margin, Trump would argue that there was election fraud and refuse to cede power. This fear has been shared by a large number of Democrats online, Republican Trump critics, and even Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. Back in February during congressional testimony, Cohen said, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power. And this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”

The belief that Trump would not concede if he lost stems from an assumption involving the president’s prior behavior. Two constants of the entire Trump presidency have been his shredding of norms and the lockstep support of the Republican Party for those actions. Trump’s violations of precedent and the Constitution have been numerous, and they elicit barely more than a shrug even from critical Republicans. He even discussed refusing to concede back in 2016 without losing the support of his party. According to his critics, a refusal to concede would be par for the course, just another moment for congressional Republicans to cave and Fox News to spin.

But this approach fails to consider the reality of Trump’s earlier actions. These actions, when they have occurred, have always been taken with at least a patina of support from Republican lawmakers. His immigration policy was always similar to that of his predecessors in the party. Trump’s actions on tariffs, immigrant detention, and banning transgender individuals from the military were all taken with the blessing of a significant portion of the conservative movement. They only seem shocking because those conservatives had been outside of the nation’s mainstream for so long.

Those actions that did not receive support from conservative lawmakers have all failed for one reason or another. Subordinates sometimes refuse orders and simply ignore them. They posit alternatives that allow Trump to follow a norm while appearing to be transgressive, like the president’s hollow promise to remove troops…

Eric Medlin

I’m a writer interested in the intersections of history, ideas, and politics. I publish every week. www.twitter.com/medlinwrites