In a frustrating case of democratia interruptus, Election Day this year turned into Election Week, trying the patience of the whole country and a good number of interested foreign parties. The delay seemed to heighten the insecurities of some (on both sides) while allowing time for the increasingly probable Trump loss to be understood.
These days, an electoral mandate from a presidential election can be defined as any Republican candidate who can get the majority of the popular vote or a Democrat who can win the Electoral College. President-elect Biden then has such a mandate, the execution of which is at risk due to the uncertainty of which party will control the Senate. Therein lies the rub.
With two incumbent Republican senators facing runoffs in Georgia on January 5 of next year, the stakes couldn’t be higher or the margins tighter. This is where the power game is centered now, and politically oriented eyes are focused on what will happen here.
So what is cable news serving up? Donald Trump.
Trump won’t concede, refuses to recognize the transition, and continues to damage the foundation of our democracy. Conversely, Trump has been cheated, is the victim of widespread voter fraud, and needs continued support to fight for vindication.
After five years of this type of coverage, it is easily understood that Trump makes news. As a candidate, as a nominee, as a president, and now as a loser, he’s good for ratings. Every cable news network has been snorting this cocaine for ages, and there’s no Betty Ford Center to rehabilitate Trump addiction.
Those of us with a memory that lasts more than a couple of news cycles or several Trump scandals remember how all this started. When he was a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016, virtually every news outlet—particularly cable—compulsively covered his every utterance, tweet, and rally. The wall-to-wall broadcasting almost every time Trump got into camera range gave him earned media he couldn’t have bought in exchange for ratings they couldn’t have gotten covering John Kasich or Jeb Bush.
Now we’re told of the damage Trump is inflicting on the confidence of the American people in our election process by refusing to concede the race, yet a national opinion poll by Reuters/Ipsos shows 79% of American adults (adults being the operative word) believe that Biden won.
So what did you say Trump is doing?
Well, maybe he is trying to do that and failing. Or maybe it’s about fundraising. Reuters reported Wednesday how the “Official Election Defense Fund” actually funnels money to Trump’s hastily set up “Save America” PAC and to the RNC. There’s lots of leeway on how the money can be spent. PAC money has been used by both Democrats and Republicans to pay family members, and the RNC could direct its share to—oh, I don’t know—the two Georgia races.
Then there’s talk of the Trump coup d’etat, supposedly orchestrated by the same folks that lost the election. Personally, I’ve never worked on either, but I suspect that overthrowing the government of the United States would be significantly harder than winning the Electoral College.
If anyone isn’t yet convinced to stay tuned, the media can remind you that Trump himself is a national security risk. The Washington Post, followed by others, breathlessly reported that Trump “might trade secrets, perhaps in exchange for favors, to ingratiate himself with prospective clients in foreign countries or to get back at his perceived enemies. When he leaves office, Trump will be facing a crushing amount of debt, including hundreds of millions of dollars in loans that he has personally guaranteed.”
Now isn’t that an interesting prospect? But seriously. I know Trump has picked some pretty awful role models in the past. But Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?
Maybe we all should be more concerned. Maybe Trump is well on his way to overturning the election or the government or both. Maybe he’s going to sell us out to the Russians or the Chinese or both. Or maybe our chains are being yanked collectively for somebody else’s purpose, like clicks or rating. Or both. “Every piece of this is man’s bullshit. They call this war a cloud over the land, but they made the weather, and then they stand in the rain and say, ‘Shit, it’s raining!” In Cold Mountain, Ruby was talking about the Civil War, but she wouldn’t need to alter it much to fit today’s situation completely.