When a burglar walks through a neighborhood, and tries doorknob after doorknob to see which one might be unlocked, no reasonable person would say that his attempts to enter are innocent acts. On the contrary, he’d rightly been seen as dangerous.
In the same way, when Trump challenges election results through lies, his attempts to undermine legitimacy aren’t innocent acts. They’re much closer to the probing and testing of a burglar, looking to see which houses might be vulnerable to his predation.
David Leonhardt sees Trump’s false claims clearly when observes that A president is trying to undo an election result: How would you describe that situation in another country?:
The political scientist Brendan Nyhan has often responded to events during the Trump presidency by asking a question: What would you say if you saw it in another country?
Let’s try that exercise now. Imagine that a president of another country lost an election and refused to concede defeat. Instead, he lied about the vote count. He then filed lawsuits to have ballots thrown out, put pressure on other officials to back him up and used the power of government to prevent a transition of power from starting.
How would you describe this behavior? It’s certainly anti-democratic. It is an attempt to overrule the will of the people, ignore a country’s laws and illegitimately grab political power.
President Trump’s efforts will probably fail, but they are unlike anything that living Americans have experienced. “What we have seen in the last week from the president more closely resembles the tactics of the kind of authoritarian leaders we follow,” Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, which tracks democracy, told The Times. “I never would have imagined seeing something like this in America.”
Trump will try as many doors as he can, and will walk through any left open.