The Most Important Question for Tonight’s Debate

There are lots of issues on the table. Questions about policy, character, etc. will certainly be raised — as they should.

But there is one single question that trumps all others tonight.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly told Americans that the voting process is rigged; what evidence does he have for this?

The moderators need to ask this question and nail Trump with it until he gives an answer.

“People say” or “everyone knows” isn’t an answer.

“You can’t trust the biased media” doesn’t count, nor does “reports are producing the results the Democrats want”. These are deflections.

Any response that doesn’t include verifiable facts and sources is farce. If Trump can’t produce a single shred of verifiable evidence, he needs to be hammered, and hammered hard

The reason this matters is because Trump’s accusation isn’t about a candidate, or a party, or even a “special interest” — what he’s saying is that the bedrock of American democracy is broken. Everything America stands for in the world is a myth.

If he is right, that means that true democracy doesn’t exist in the US, and that no American should believe they have any say in the governance of their country. It’s from notions like this that revolutions are made.

Frankly, if the system is that broken, some form of revolution to restore democracy would be necessary. We’ve seen this play out time and again around the world — in countries not America.

America is the world’s most prominent example of a functioning democracy. Its successful is a benchmark against which emerging democracies can judge themselves.

Every dictator and despot who wants to deny democratic rights to their people points to the evils of America, how democracy leads to decadence; if it should be proven that America’s democratic dream is fantasy, they could instead start pointing to the US as proof that democracy doesn’t work.

A failed American democracy validates every anti-democratic effort in the world, from Putin’s Russia or Jobbik in Hungary to Daesh, which spreads the message that people are not fit for self-governance.

Trump’s accusation really is that dangerous.

None of this matters to Trump himself, of course. He cares about nothing beyond winning; to him, the ends justify the means (for him) because he’s Donald Trump.

Trump must be held to account — either he has evidence for his claim, or he cares so little about democracy and what America has always stood for that he’ll undermine it for his own interest.

Challenging him on his claims of fraud isn’t about taking him down; it’s about protecting democracy itself.

Trump has to back up his claims; if he can’t, he must be held accountable.

It’s that important.