“Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election?”
In a normal, functional, representative democracy, that question would never be asked. It wouldn’t even be considered. It’s like asking ‘Is water wet?’ or ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ It’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked because the answer is glaringly obvious. To almost any other political figure, the question itself would be an insult. The fact that a reporter — any number of reporters and a big chunk of the voting population — felt the need to ask that question is a measure of how far we’ve moved toward an authoritarian regime.
But even so, Comrade Trump’s answer should have been immediate and straightforward, because there’s only one acceptable answer. “Yes, of course, I’ll commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Is the Pope wet? Is water Catholic?”
That wasn’t Trump’s answer. Instead, he said this:
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.”
The horrible thing about that answer — one of the many horrible things about it — is that we already know what’s going to happen. We don’t know how the popular vote will turn out, but we know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what the electoral vote will be, but we sure as hell know what’s going to happen. We don’t know who’ll legitimately win or lose the 2020 election, but we absofuckinglutely know what’s going to happen.
What’s going to happen is this: Comrade Trump will declare himself the winner.
We know that’s going to happen because he’s publicly stated that’s the only election result he’ll accept. He’s said that repeatedly. It’s one of the few things he’s said that we can believe. Worse, when he says, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” he’s not just declaring any other result would be invalid, he’s also prepping his followers to take the same position. He’s prepping his followers to take action.
They will take the election from us. That’s it, right there. Trump’s power depends on dividing the nation. It depends on his followers seeing themselves as victims. It depends on scaring his followers. Frightened people are easier to lead.
Trump is entirely shameless about frightening his followers and laying a foundation to declare the election invalid. He’s willing to make up the most ridiculous lies and spread them as widely as possible, without any sense of embarrassment or guilt. He’s not afraid of getting caught in a lie because he knows his supporters either don’t care about the lies or stupidly believe them. Like this one:
This is about the stupidest fucking thing possible. Foreign countries (and others? WTF does that even mean? other what?) printing millions of ballots. That’s stupid on about nineteen different levels. Even if foreign countries (and others) DID print millions of ballots, how would they get them to the voters? Do they mail them from North Korea and Iran? How much is postage for a million ballots from Tehran to Kansas City? Do they fill container ships with ballots and ship them to the US and…what, take them to the post office in rented semi-trucks? Wouldn’t somebody notice that?
The scandal of our times isn’t that foreign countries will print millions of fake ballots; it’s that we have a president who can say astonishingly stupid shit like this and get away with it. The scandal of our times is that his followers will repeat it — and maybe even believe it.
Actually, the scandal of our times is that Comrade Trump is the President of the United States. The scandal is that he’s willing to do and say almost anything to remain in power. It’s that he might actually succeed.
We know what’s going to happen. We know that regardless of what the votes say, Trump will claim a victory. We know, regardless of the voting, he won’t concede.
As a nation, we aren’t prepared for that. We’ve always assumed our presidents would be decent, honorable, conscientious people. We were wrong.
The Pope is wet. Water is Catholic.