But instead, since Jan. 20, 2017, Trump has sent unequivocal signals to those who rig elections that they will not be punished. In fact, he has openly embraced and spoken highly of authoritarian strongmen across the globe — from China’s Xi Jinping and the Philippines’s Rodrigo Duterte to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While many Western observers were busy condemning sham elections in Turkey and Russia, Trump picked up the phone and congratulated both leaders.
In the 21st century, strongmen have learned that it’s easier to stay in power by rigging elections than by not holding them at all. Right now, those who rig elections are outfoxing not only their own citizens but the international community as well.