My article on the third debate for the Globe and Mail:
In Mr. Trump’s alternate reality, Ms. Clinton occupies two contradictory positions. First, she is so powerful that she is unilaterally responsible for everything that has happened in the U.S. for the past 30 years. Second, she is innately worthless, someone who, as he said last night, “should not be allowed to run.” This dynamic presented itself most clearly when Mr. Trump tried to defend his manipulation of tax loopholes (after bragging about it) by claiming that somehow Ms. Clinton forced him to not pay his share, though she had nothing to do with it. When Ms. Clinton discussed his finances later in the debate, Mr. Trump flew into a rage, sputtering: “Such a nasty woman.”
Ms. Clinton ignored his insults and continued to talk, as she is now practised at doing.
Mr. Trump calls her “the devil,” as do prominent Trump supporters such as radio show host Alex Jones. Like Salem witch trial officiants, they have imbued Goody Hillary with magical powers. But Ms. Clinton’s greatest power over Mr. Trump is quite simple: she publicly and repeatedly points out that he is accountable for his actions, and notes that his actions have consequences.
One of the consequences of Mr. Trump’s recent actions is that he is likely to lose the election. For Mr. Trump, however, this is incomprehensible, and so we arrive at the unprecedented scenario of a candidate who may not concede.
The debate could have – and should have – stopped at Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to say he will accept the results of the election. As he rages at rallies and creates conspiracies, he puts not only the democratic process but actual lives at risk. White supremacist and militia groups have been on the rise for eight years, and avenging Mr. Trump’s loss may be their unifying cause.