Tom Mctague in The Atlantic:
The world watched today as the president of the United States confirmed his critics’—and American allies’—fears, railing baselessly against election fraud, arguing from his perch in the White House that he had won an election whose result remained in doubt. Donald Trump’s remarks signaled a dangerous new episode in the soap opera of his presidency. Waking up to the news that control of executive power in the U.S. remains disputed—claimed by the president, despite official and media sources, to say nothing of the Joe Biden campaign, insisting any final result remains some ways off—the world has been forced to confront its faith not just in America, but in the American idea.
Before today, the American president himself could be loathed or ridiculed, the nature of American power challenged, and even the corruption of American politics debated. Yet few doubted the strength of America’s constitutional nature, the foundation upon which it built its republic. There have been disputed elections before—hanging chads and worse—but Trump’s comments, made before all the votes have been tallied nationwide and with multiple states up for grabs, signaled a break. This is no constitutional crisis, yet, but a president laying claim to an office he has not won (albeit one he might) is a crisis of its own. Speaking to a room of cheering supporters in the early hours of the morning, Trump began his address by listing favorable vote counts in an array of crucial states. His speech then took a darker turn. “This is a fraud on the American public,” he said, apparently referencing claims that he had not yet secured victory. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.” Trump said millions of Americans had voted for him, but claimed the Democrats were trying to steal the election from them. “A very sad group of people are trying to disenfranchise that group of people, and we won’t stand for it.”