The bombastic wild-haired billionaire that has catapulted into the dominant force on the national political scene, for better or worse, has long accused the 2016 election of being mired by corruption – allegations bolstered by WikiLeaks document dump showing collusion between Hillary, the media, and the Democratic Party to takedown Clinton’s primary election opponent Bernie Sanders.
The talking point, a familiar one among the nation’s far-right activists, has indeed garnered more credence in a presidential election where the media has abandoned even the pretense of neutrality with former CBS news anchor Dan Rather even taking to the airways to say that the "media must publicly shame Donald Trump" and video surfacing of CNN’s Chris Cuomo admitting the station was the number one supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
It seems the oft-used nod to conspiracy theorists may be more truth than fiction in 2016 which is why Donald Trump has decided to put it center stage as the focal point of his strategy to claim the White House in November launching a petition for "volunteer Trump Election Observers" on his webpage.
The ask is simplistic and genius: “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!” It fits ideally with the narrative that the candidate wants to create that, for all his flaws, at least he isn’t a crook (a debatable point) and that if he loses it was not due to his personal failings but rather a rigged system.
Speaking on the stump, the candidate went full throttle with the time-tested strategy. "She can’t beat what’s happening here," said Trump riling up the Pennsylvania crowd. "The only way they can beat it in my opinion, and I mean this 100 percent, is if in certain sections of the state they cheat."
Trump’s message, however, is not a referendum only on the Clintons, but on the very institutions of American life that all too many voters fear have deteriorated over the years.
"If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%," said Trump in one Tweet. "I am not only fighting Crooked Hillary, I am fighting the dishonest and corrupt media and her government protection process. People get it!"
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016
It is undeniable that Trump has systematically deconstructed the country’s institutions pointing to political corruption, media bias, and failures of the justice system to hold Hillary Clinton accountable – whether these failings are real or imagined.
The opportunity of Trump is the possibility of reforming a broken system to make it better, but the corollary danger exists that the Republican nominee won’t know when to stop pursuing instead a path of abolition that leads down the road of anarchy.