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Rudnick: Donald Trump’s refusal to say he will accept election results is antidemocratic

Jesse Rudnick, Op-Ed Contributor

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As politically active as I am, I have largely refrained from contributing to the current flood of political tirades. But something snapped in me as I watched the presidential debate last night.

While many of my peers were out partying away our last summer before college, I spent most of mine working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, traveling and organizing field offices across the San Francisco Bay Area. I did it because I have looked up to Clinton since I was a little girl, and as a United States citizen, I believe I have a duty to back words up with action. For all its faults, I believe in our government’s ability to protect and support its citizens, and I saw Clinton as the best person to fulfill this vision of good government.

As I worked for Clinton tirelessly all summer, I watched Donald Trump’s campaign unfold with a mix of disgust and, admittedly, amusement. I joined the chorus of jokes about how he acted like a whiny child. I called him an egomaniac, and I certainly felt angry at his slew of inappropriate and hurtful remarks. But I tried to never get too heated; both in the office and out, I stayed on message and kept my focus on the Clinton platform.

Wednesday night, something changed. Amid his relentless droning about emails and the wall, Trump said something that sobered me up from all my smug comments and mock outrage. He said he wouldn’t guarantee he’d accept defeat if Clinton wins, and he would consider disrupting arguably the most sacred tradition of American society –– the peaceful transition of political power from one leader to the next.

For Trump to threaten to break with the custom is more than just immature and dangerous — it’s unacceptable.

How dare he threaten so flippantly to take this fundamental concept of American democracy away from me, and from the millions and generations of Americans who have made so many sacrifices to ensure we protect it? Trump doesn’t get to mess with 240 years of tradition and our country’s core values for his own sick ego trip.

I already believed Trump was a supremely unqualified and divisive candidate for the presidency. But last night I finally learned his most disturbing trait: He does not respect this country’s fundamental values of democracy.

I’m not joking about Trump anymore. The stakes are too high. Instead, I’m going to leave my dorm and contact the campaign office in Evanston. Between now and Election Day, I’m going to put in as much time canvassing and phone-banking as I can to make sure that nobody has to live under a Trump presidency. And come Nov. 8, I hope everyone will join me in making sure we elect a president who respects this country and the sacred values that have made it truly great.

Jesse Rudnick is a SESP freshman. She can be contacted at If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.