An enfeebled Donald Trump made a desperate bid this week to snatch victory from the jaws of electoral defeat. Baselessly impugning mail-in voting as a drag on election integrity, Trump offered, “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Not only does Trump lack the constitutional authority to do anything of the sort, no one was going for it. Not the pro-Trump co-founder of the ultra conservative Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi, who called it grounds for “immediate impeachment.” Not the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which suggested that perhaps Trump should scrap his reelection bid and “let someone run who isn’t looking for an excuse to blame for defeat.” And even some vulnerable Senate Republicans up for reelection this cycle managed to part ways with Trump on something for basically the first time ever.
In case you missed it, Trump is now at the weakest point of his presidency. Facing electoral doom and threatening to sink the GOP with him, some Republicans smell freedom and are breaking out the pitchforks early.
After Trump’s ‘delay’ trial balloon drew a legion of arrows, he was back Thursday afternoon to assure Americans that we “must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months, or even years later!” No, we must not. Hopefully, we will know the result of the presidential contest that night, but there’s nothing constitutionally imperative about getting immediate results.
What is true is that the longer the results are delayed, the longer Trump will have to sow the seeds of doubt in Americans’ minds about the election’s integrity. Trump voters are already predisposed to refusing to accept the results of November’s election, with 55% of respondents in a Yahoo/YouGov survey saying they would not accept a close election result if Biden wins due to “an advantage in mail-in votes.” And Trump is already very actively laying the groundwork for that skepticism to take hold, with a particular focus on “mail-in voting,” which is the same as absentee voting even though Trump likes to pretend there’s some meaningful distinction.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump wrote in his deranged “delay” tweet.
As the Washington Post reported Thursday, Trump has “attacked mail voting nearly 70 times since late March in interviews, remarks and tweets, including at least 17 times this month.” Naturally mail-in/absentee voting are also the safest way for Americans to vote amid the pandemic.
But pre-doubting the election results isn’t just a strategy for Trump, it’s also a psychological necessity for someone who’s entire persona and sense of self-worth is delicately balanced on a mythical house of cards. Trump’s whole adult existence has been nothing but a deceptive smoke-and-mirrors fabrication aimed at convincing others of his greatness. But along the way, Trump fell for his own delusions of grandeur, and now it’s imperative to his being that he safeguard them at all costs. Losing fair and square simply isn’t an option for someone who’s convinced himself he’s a “killer,” a term he inherited from his sociopathic father, Fred Trump.
So when Trump charges that he’s been “very unfairly treated” from the get-go, the media never gives him enough credit, the “fake” polls are undercounting his voters, the “silent majority” will have its say in November, and that a “fixed” and “rigged” election has already been stolen out from under him, it’s all of a piece—a function of self-preservation for a man who’s impervious to any reality that undercuts his supposed supremacy.
None of this is to say we should dismiss the strategic side of Trump’s persistent “fraud” push. He is pumping the ether full of toxicity about what he’s already declared “the greatest election disaster in history.” And it’s surely not beyond Republican lawmakers to survey the post-Election Day GOP ruins and decide, yeah, why not back Trump’s bid to steal the election? Without him, there’s nothing left of us.
We must make certain it’s perfectly clear that Americans won’t stand for his betrayal of our Constitution, our democratic ideals, and our republic. Trump has made perfectly clear for years that he would like to be “president for life” and, given all the investigations awaiting him if he loses, he has more incentive than ever to barricade himself in the White House. As American-Russian journalist Masha Gessen told MSNBC’s Joy Reid Friday, “the question of whether he can is really a question of how many enablers he has?” The People must provide a convincing counterbalance to those enablers.
But if Joe Biden wins, it won’t matter whether it’s a narrow victory or an emphatic rout, Donald Trump will go to his grave believing he was harassed as a candidate, wronged throughout his presidency, and robbed of reelection. When the truth is, he cheated his way into office and spent four years taking everything America was worth and burning it like Monopoly money, just like he did with his daddy’s fortune. Too bad Fred Trump won’t be around to bail out the country.