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Posted: October 28, 2020

Will he, or won’t he? Only Trump knows

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Well, it wasn’t the zombie apocalypse that some Republicans feared it would be. Donald Trump didn’t set his hair on fire or howl at the moon like a crazed lunatic or disappear in a puff of black smoke like his critics hoped. In fact, he performed much better than he did in the previous presidential debate.

But there was a reason for Trump’s almost civilized behaviour at the Oct. 22 debate. He knows he’s going to lose Nov. 3 and lose badly. So now he’s laying the groundwork for the aftermath of the election. And that aftermath is absolutely obvious – he doesn’t intend to leave the Oval Office over what he’ll declare was a “fake election.”

And all hell will break loose after that.

Actually, I’m hoping that this dire prediction doesn’t emerge at all. I’m hoping that Trump does what defeated presidents usually do in these difficult circumstances, namely politely and in a civil manner congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on what I suspect will be his landslide win and utter a few graceful platitudes about his term in office and what he feels he accomplished, than resolutely depart the stage of the most tumultuous term in modern American political history.

But does that sound like Donald J. Trump? Not on your life, or mine! In his storied career as a many times bankrupt and oft-sued businessman and a bellicose reality TV show host has Trump ever been polite, civil or graceful? For that matter how often has he acted civilized?

Remember “Crooked” Hillary, “Braindead” Bernie, “Wild Bill” Clinton, Jeff Bozo,” (Bezos) “Rocket Man,”(Kim Jong-un), “Sleepy Joe” and the like? Prior to Trump, no presidential candidate ever spoke like that. Trump lowered the bar. How quickly we forget.

And, of course, he’s actually hinted he won’t leave the White House unless someone drags him out by his orange hair. When asked directly by a reporter during a Sept. 23, press briefing whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power, “win, lose, or draw,” Trump refused to do so and later called the incident a “joke,” according to the fact–checking website Snopes.

Quite possibly Trump was joking, but his towering narcissism and off the wall behaviour in office is such that some US psychiatrists have openly speculated that Trump suffers from a mental condition and could be forced to leave office under Section 25 of the US Constitution which provides for removal if a president’s  mental or physical health becomes impaired to the point they can’t properly fulfill their duties and the vice–president takes over.

This has never happened of course but in a June 20 article in the prestigious magazine ‘The Atlantic’ the possibility of Trump refusing to go was raised. “The potential for chaos exposes the frailties of an electoral tradition that depends on the goodwill of the two candidates involved. If one won’t cooperate, the system seizes up.”

Up to this point, precious little “good will” has been exhibited between Trump and Joe Biden which doesn’t bode well if the election result is close and Trump decides to dig in his heels. Amherst College professor Lawrence Douglas published a book this year entitled ‘Will He Go?’ In it, he explores the potential nightmare scenarios. “In 2020, we have no Al Gore to save us from a complete electoral meltdown and the unrest and violence it could unleash,” Douglas wrote.

Will it come to that? Speculation is rampant on that point, but who knows? In his four chaotic years in office, Trump has upset almost every political norm and protocol in existence. Who can forget his chilling comment about the Proud Boys in the first debate – “Stand back and stand by.” Was this another joke? If not, just what did he mean?

A nervous world is waiting to find out.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist not normally prone to conspiracy theories.

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