The Day After
We’re more than happy to join the national pearl-clutching over Donald Trump’s remarks that he won’t necessarily concede the election if he loses.
But we also happen to think that it won’t make the slightest difference.
The tradition is symbolic but meaningful: The peaceful transition of power is not something to be taken for granted in human societies, and the fact we’ve managed to pull it off for more than two centuries — we’ll politely ignore that little contretemps of 1861 — speaks well of our polity. Our leaders may use the Constitution to wipe their arses now and again, but they always make way for new leaders to grace our laws with their butts.
You might call this the real Living Constitution: The document itself would be worthless without all the unwritten civic traditions that have grown up around it. We’re a pretty rowdy country, both historically and in our lifetime. Yet for all the potentially fabric-rending crises we’ve lived through in our nearly sixty years, we’re still one nation. One highly schizophrenic nation, but still muddling through.
We’ve already laid our marker on the notion that surviving 2016 doesn’t give the nation a pass on 2020. If Donald Trump was minimally politically competent, we wouldn’t have the luxury of fretting about his concession two weeks out from the election. The conditions that gave rise to Trump ain’t going away soon, and he’s shown other wannabe fascists the path to success.
We grew up thinking that FDR’s battles with the American fascists of his era were long buried in history. But fascism is one of those chronic conditions that beset us. It might go into remission for a few generations, but it never goes away.
And yet: We don’t have a care in the world about what might happen November 9.
Let’s take Trump at his word, although everyone who has done business with him has learned not to: The networks call an electoral landslide for Hillary early Tuesday night, and Trump fails to graciously eat crow as is customary.
Well, for starters: Every prominent Republican rushes to a TV camera to declare the election over anyway. They’re all Players who know how the game is played even if Trump doesn’t, and they’re not going to follow him into a national insurrection.
Also, they can’t stand Trump and wish he’d go away. Those who remain are only pretending to stand by him because (a) they want those sweet, sweet Supreme Court nominations, and (b) they’re scared shitless by Trump’s yahoos, the very yahoos they cultivated for decades and thought they could control until this year.
There will be no Constitutional crisis. Nobody has a stake in it.
So we’re not worried about that.
The yahoos themselves are another matter.
Trump has been whipping America’s Idiots into a fever pitch for a year and a half. They do believe the election is rigged, that Hillary is organizing a massive heist for election night, and nobody can tell them otherwise — perhaps not even Trump himself, even if he does concede in another somnambulant teleprompter reading.
We’re not predicting Redneck Riots. We just won’t be surprised if they happen.
But it’s November, folks, and even those won’t last. Too cold, for one. War on Christmas season, for another. Also, football.
Besides, the yahoos will have a fresh, meaty target for their revenge: All those traitorous Establishment Republicans who stood in Trump’s way. And we’re not fretting about that at all.
Truth be told, we’re looking forward to it.