Of course Trump is trying to burn it all down. What else did you expect?
- President Trump's refusal to admit that he lost the 2020 election to President-elect Joe Biden has made things extremely stressful here in the United States.
- But at least everyone is behaving exactly as expected.
- Trump is in denial, and the GOP is talking loud, but the Trump campaign's legal challenges are thin.
- This feels terrible because we're in it, and it may very well do longterm damage to our democracy, but no one can say we're being surprised here.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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The days since former Vice President Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election have been intense, aggravating and long — but at least everyone is behaving exactly as expected.
President Donald Trump is refusing to concede, just like we all knew he would. He's golfing and seething and tweeting that the election was "rigged." At the same time his public presidential schedule is empty, and even though coronavirus cases are hitting record levels, he has not addressed the public in about a week. He doesn't have the guts.
Naturally, the Trump administration is recalcitrant as well. It is refusing to help Biden's team with the transition. It is reshuffling the Department of Defense in a way that is disturbing the national security community. And — just to add some pettiness to all of this — it is threatening to fire anyone on the inside who starts looking for a job. Harrowing, but again, totally expected from these people.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to win two special elections in Georgia in early January which will decide which party controls the Senate. So he's adding fuel to Trump's fire in an attempt to turn out the base, refusing to reject Trump's baseless legal challenges to the election, and further eroding America's faith in the democratic process. This could have a long term negative impact on our democracy, but that's fine for McConnell — which shouldn't surprise anyone.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who is being investigated for abusing his office and spent this spring spreading the lie that the coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan — is being a bully. No surprise there. On Tuesday he crowed that we would have smooth transition to "a second Trump administration," but now he seems to be walking that back at bit. Bullies often do that upon confrontation.
Attorney General Bill Barr — known for using legalese to make his aggression as passive as possible — wrote a letter allowing US Attorneys to "pursue substantial allegations of voter fraud." It's unclear to legal experts whether it's a move that has any real teeth, but the head of the DOJ's Election Crimes Unit stepped down shortly thereafter.
Jared Kushner is outsourcing the brutal task of getting his father-in-law to accept reality to friends (much like the coronavirus response). And his wife Ivanka Trump — America's duchess of dissociation — is tweeting as if nothing is wrong, like she just touched down here from another planet or something. All of this is extremely on brand for everyone.
But that predictability doesn't make it any less stressful in the moment, I understand that. Even though election officials around the country insist there was no widespread malfeasance, even though Trump's legal challenges look really thin, this tension could drag on until Inauguration Day on January 20.
There's a lot that could go wrong between now and then. Coronavirus cases are spiking in what experts are calling "the most deadly" phase of the virus. Changes at the Defense Department have some worried that our country could be vulnerable while Trump pitches his fit. Plus, Congress is supposed to be negotiating a coronavirus aid package and this aggression is not good for coming to agreements.
Over on Wall Street, the CBOE volatility index (better known as the VIX) started spiking on Monday even as stocks rallied on the news that Pfizer developed a COVID-19 vaccine with 90% efficacy. The market knows that even though the election is over, Trump's refusal to accept that reality will make it a bumpy ride to 2021.
It's going to be wretched, but we all knew this was coming. No one around Trump has come to their senses, there are no heroes on the GOP's side, and while it's nice that First Lady Melania Trump is urging her husband to accept his loss let's be honest — she's been dying to leave the White House anyway. Everyone is behaving exactly as horribly as we expected they would. Let these appalling people be themselves, and keep your eye on January 20.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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