• The Financial District


Born amid made-up crowd size claims and “alternative facts,” the Trump presidency has been a factory of falsehood from the start, churning out distortions, conspiracy theories and brazen lies at an assembly-line pace that has challenged fact-checkers and defied historical analogy, Peter Baker reported for New York Times.

But now, the consequences of four years of fabulism are coming into focus as President Donald Trump argues that the vote itself is inherently “rigged,” tearing at the credibility of the system. Should the contest go into extra innings through legal challenges after Tuesday, it may leave a public with little faith in the outcome — and in its own democracy. But the elections will happen under his administration and no one believes a party out of power has the resources and the boldness to manipulate the Nov. 3 election.

During his final weekend of campaign rallies, Trump continued to sow doubt about the validity of the election, making clear that he would deem any outcome other than victory for him to be corrupt. At a rally in Philadelphia, which has a sizable Black population, he asserted that the city would falsify the results. “Are they going to mysteriously find more ballots” after polls close, he asked. “Strange things have been known to happen, especially in Philadelphia.”

The nightmarish scenario of widespread doubt and denial of the legitimacy of the election would cap a period in US history when truth itself has seemed at stake under a president who has strayed so far from the normal bounds that he creates what allies call his own reality. Even if the election ends with a clear victory or defeat for Trump, scholars and players alike say the very concept of public trust in an established set of facts necessary for the operation of a democratic society has eroded during his tenure with potentially long-term ramifications. “You can mitigate the damage, but you can’t bring it back to 100% the way it was before,” said Lee McIntyre, author of “Post-Truth” and a philosopher at Boston University. “And I think that’s going to be Trump’s legacy. I think there’s going to be lingering damage to the processes by which we vet truths for decades. People are going to be saying, ‘Oh, that’s fake news.’ The confusion between skepticism and denialism, the idea that if you don’t want to believe something, you don’t have to believe it — that’s really damaging, and that’s going to last.”

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