It’s been more than a month since Election Day. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Hanukkah and Christmas are fast approaching.
The votes have been counted — two or three times in some cases — and the result has become even more convincing for Joe Biden each time.
And yet Donald Trump and his supporters are still carrying on as if the will of the people will be overturned to pave the way for a second Trump term.
Having no evidence of systemic fraud, they are spreading increasingly convoluted lies about hacked voting machines, boxes of fake ballots and a conspiracy that involves Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
Trump couldn’t defeat Joe Biden, so he has turned his sights on an even tougher rival, reality.
This isn’t “4-D chess” or any profound plan to reverse the election. I find any comparison to any kind of chess to be insulting, frankly.
Trump’s team has made so many insane accusations that it’s more “Tiger King” than “The Queen’s Gambit.”
The Soviet way was to invent the crime and then invent the evidence, but unfortunately for Trump, the American judiciary remained out of his grasp.
Judges in a half-dozen states and of every political background — including at least one Trump appointee — have smacked down the challenges for having no proof, no standing and no merit.
On Friday, California certified its election results and gave Joe Biden the electoral votes required to win the White House.
All the nation’s electors will meet on Dec. 14 to formally vote Biden in as the 46th president.
This is usually just a formality, as the result is known and usually acknowledged long before.
This year was a little different, due to the pandemic leading to a far greater number of mail-in ballots that took a few extra days to tally.
It’s also different because Trump, as I warned he would do, has refused to concede despite every swing state certifying its results for Biden, several including hand recounts that verified the original counts almost perfectly.
At this point, Hugo Chavez has a better chance of coming back to life than Trump’s reelection effort does of succeeding.
I’ve made many dire predictions about the depths Trump might sink to, and I have to admit that I’ve often been wrong. It’s usually even worse.
Trump’s ability to scrape the bottom and then go lower still is simply impossible to overestimate.
Trump isn’t letting a little thing like reality stop him. Why start now? The subjects of “the Russia hoax” and “the COVID-19 hoax” were both quite real, and that hasn’t stopped Trumpists from denying them to this day.
“The election hoax” is another Trump loyalty test, a way for Trump to dare Republicans to point out, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes.
Anyone who admits that the election was fair and won by Biden is tossed under the bus and accused of disloyalty, including various Republican governors, attorneys general and election officials.
They have committed the unforgivable sin of being loyal to their oaths of office, to the Constitution of the United States, and to observable reality, instead of to the Dear Leader.
For this they are excommunicated from the Church of Trump and declared an enemy of the people. It is very much to their credit.
Trump is using his last weeks in office to focus on a real crisis. No, not the surging pandemic that is now killing around 3,000 Americans per day.
The only crisis Trump cares about is how to make more money from his position, and his fundraising is in a higher gear now than before the election, surely a first in American history.
It’s hard to feel sorry for the suckers making these donations, including major donors who see it as an investment in controlling a Trump-led GOP in the coming years.
The hundreds of millions of dollars Trump is raising for his PAC can be used largely at his discretion.
Aside from the cash, Trump’s frenetic post-election campaign push, not to say putsch, is also about keeping enough political support and influence to help him avoid prosecution now that his presidential immunity is ending.
It’s easy to understand Trump’s actions when you realize that everything is transactional and for his immediate personal benefit.
Trump has spent five years attacking the concept of objective truth and its messengers, the free press, in order to insulate himself from justice when damning facts come to light.
Trump’s Saturday rally in Georgia was ostensibly to support Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs, but Trump mostly whined and talked about himself.
He lied about winning states he did not win. He lied about election fraud. These weren’t “baseless claims” or “false narratives,” by the way. They were lies and must be labeled accurately.
Trump also made explicit the politics of grievance he has specialized in from the start, telling the audience, “We’re all victims. Everybody here.”
It’s as if he watched a YouTube tutorial on fascist populism and didn’t understand that you aren’t supposed to explain the method to your audience.
Thwarted by the electoral process and an independent judiciary, Trump has moved on to pressuring governors to simply overturn the election results.
This puts an end to any Republican talking points about “election irregularities” or “counting every ballot.”
This is a raw, desperate grab for power, and that it so far has failed should not hide its nature. An incompetent, pathetic coup attempt is still a coup attempt.
Now that Trump is in his final days as president, you would expect his stranglehold on the GOP to fade.
He’s a loser, a one-term pothole on the American highway of democracy.
Other Republican candidates consistently outperformed him at the polls, demonstrating that for many voters, it really was all about Trump.
Yet most Republicans in D.C. still refuse to admit that Trump lost, and that Biden is the next president.
They listen to Trump and his coterie spew unhinged accusations and threats and say nothing.
They watch as he gives a 46-minute speech that would have lasted 46 seconds with all the lies removed.
Nearly 90% of the 249 Republicans in Congress refuse to say publicly who won the election.
After four years of feigning ignorance of Trump’s tweets, they are now deaf, dumb and blind to everything the president says or does, including a direct assault on the legitimacy of American democracy — which includes their legitimacy as well.
None of these officials should be forgotten or forgiven for their contribution to Trump’s assault on the fundamental pillars of the American republic.
They are opening a Pandora’s Box of politicians calling any result they don’t like illegitimate.
They are enabling a venal television personality who never wanted to be president to desecrate a democratic process that is an inspiration to many around the world.
What can Republican senators say about defending democracy in Cuba or Venezuela or Russia when they won’t even defend it in the United States?
How can Republicans stand up to a Vladimir Putin when they can’t even stand up to a lame-duck Donald Trump?
There is much talk of truth commissions and whether Trump has enough hours left in the Oval Office to pardon his way out of legal jeopardy.
There’s no need for the Biden administration to persecute its predecessor in any political way, but neither should it interfere to stop the wheels of justice from turning.
After a lifetime of scams, thuggery and bankruptcies, there is little doubt that the Trump clan brought these family traditions with them to the White House.
If the U.S. wants to clean up its metaphorical house — beyond the literal disinfecting required — it must make it clear that crimes committed in office will not be forgotten when the office-holder leaves.
Impeachment is the only constitutional deterrent for a law-breaking president.
Sen. Susan Collins said Trump “learned a lesson” when he was acquitted by the Senate along partisan lines in February. She was right: He learned that he could do whatever he wanted, and the GOP Senate would still protect him.
While Trump’s attack on the integrity of the U.S. election system is netting him millions, the cost to American democracy and its credibility worldwide is incalculable.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and elsewhere have often waved American flags, a gesture that touches the heart of any American proud of the role their country has long had as a symbol and defender of freedom around the world.
Dictators live in fear of their own people and hate having their illegitimacy pointed out by elected leaders.
Now they have no less than an American president saying that America is no better, that its elections are a fraud, that the people have no fair voice.
Who cares that it’s a monstrous lie? The autocrats who want to spread that message don’t care about lies and truth.
For the next four years, Putin and other enemies of the United States will be delighted to amplify Trump’s message that Biden is an illegitimate president.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Trump appearing at conferences alongside other modern leaders of illiberalism, from Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage to Viktor Orban and Jair Bolsonaro.
Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman will sponsor it all, naturally, because it’s always about the money in the end for such people, and Trump might not be able to squeeze enough from his delusional followers in these final days to pay off his mountain of debt.
A lesson from chess is that you must both learn from your losses and simultaneously put them behind you.
Gore Vidal’s quip about “the United States of Amnesia” wasn’t intended as a compliment, but there is something beneficial in the American ability to keep moving forward, to keep building up, to keep its collective eyes on the future.
Fueled by generations of immigrants who aren’t interested in old divisions, America has always tried to do the right thing after first trying everything else.
It must now reinvent itself again as the country that elected Donald Trump as president and lived to tell the tale.
America has sipped the poison of demagoguery and nationalism, as if to see if it was really as bad as everyone said. It was. It is.
And no matter what Trump says, the antidote was delivered at ballot boxes around the country.
Now it’s time for America to get healthy and strong again, physically and spiritually, and lead the world in doing the same.