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When a flat earth refused to concede and all hell shattered

Almost two months after the election, President Donald Trump still has not acknowledged his loss, even as members of his own party reject his electoral fraud conspiracy theories. “You’re heading for the cliffs that keep the Earth flat right now, brother,” Republican Denver Riggleman recently told Yahoo News, comparing Trump’s claims to those of the Flat Earth movement.

This is exactly where Trump is headed. Although no modern president has refused to concede an election, his tactics are not without precedent in American politics. With an 1873 Texas governor barricaded himself in office after losing reelection, Trump benefits from a remarkably marginal society – in particular, people who believe the Earth is not a flattened spheroid, but a flat disc.

In 1909, a notorious Flat Earth preacher led a ballot box coup to maintain his grip on an Illinois city. With declarations of “war,” two competing governments claiming to be legitimate, and an armed siege between police chiefs from both factions at the county jail, the forgotten saga of Zion, Ill. Is proof that the situation US policy could still be a lot dumber.

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