In our opinion: The Daily Gamecock endorses democracy

The Daily Gamecock strongly stands behind the American system of free elections and the right to express opinions critical of the government. Democracy depends on the legal existence of opposition parties, peaceful transition of power, acceptance of elections and an independent judiciary.

One candidate threatens these norms. We cannot, in good conscience, advocate for the election of Donald Trump. However, we are also declining to endorse any alternative in favor of emphasizing his unique dangers.

Trump has suggested he might not accept the result of democratic elections if he loses. What form this would take is unclear, but others in his party have suggested armed rebellion against the government.

Trump has told his supporters to police low-income communities, perhaps to intimidate voters of color. His party has restricted the voting rights of minority voters "with almost surgical precision."

Trump has joked about canceling elections, a move he could plausibly make if commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Trump has appeared to suggest supporters of gun rights should assassinate his opponent.

Trump has stated he would order an investigation of his opponent, encouraged chants of "lock her up" and said he would have jailed Secretary Clinton if he were currently in charge. None of this has precedent in recent American history, but it is common behavior in dictatorships or unstable democracies.

Whatever the merits of the candidates, that behavior cannot stand. The premise of American elections is that, however much one party detests the new president, they have a chance to try again in four years. If the president refused to accept the principles of free elections or there was doubt about whether they would, the smooth transition of power and the incentives to peacefully wait could change.

Without exaggeration, some of Trump's behavior could risk the character of the republic itself.

We don't care if you vote for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson or Harris Pastides. But please don't vote for the candidate who threatens the foundation of American democracy.

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