After praising dictators, attacking veterans, demeaning girls, discrediting our democracy, and surrendering to a raging pandemic, we will solely hope that Trump has additionally undone himself.
We can’t know precisely what Trump will do in these ultimate days, solely that no matter it’s, he can be pondering solely of himself. If he declares victory on election evening, whatever the uncounted ballots, what then? What if he calls all the election a fraud, a hoax, and calls for that the counting cease? Or if armed Trump supporters heed his name to intimidate voters on the polls? What if he takes to Twitter with “LIBERATE AMERICA!” and his MAGA zealots reply?
You might roll your eyes, however such issues will not be unimaginable, and even unrealistic. Normal folks do not wish to think about horrible occasions, which is why autocrats persistently shock them. (As once I wrote right here again in April that it will appear logical to somebody like Trump to attempt to sabotage the US Postal Service if he thought it may assist his electoral possibilities. Unimaginable, till it occurred.)
“Doesn’t Putin realize how bad this looks?” grew to become the consultants’ chorus after he crossed line after uncrossable line. As if he cared how issues appeared. Why ought to he? Dictators do not ask “Why?” They solely ask, “Why not?” They do not cease except somebody stops them. No one stopped Putin.
For years, my colleagues and I within the Russian democracy motion warned that Putin was constructing a dictatorship. Even when it was crystal-clear that Russian democracy and civil society had been gutted, the free world fiercely resisted acknowledging that reality.
Putin laid naked the massive disconnect between autocrats and regular folks — the autocrats’ skill to do issues that merely do not happen to folks with a way of decency and a respect for norms and traditions. Autocrats are conscious of the results they could face for the harm they do, however they consider they will keep away from these penalties by staying in energy, ceaselessly if vital. Trump may need been indicted a number of instances over have been he not protected by his workplace, and a way of impunity tends to make one sloppy.
Trump little question believes that he has extra to lose by leaving workplace than by combating — lawlessly or not — to remain. The oligarchs and thugs he so admires certainly agree. They will not simply let go of such a profitable funding — one in every of their very own sort within the Oval Office.
But what if he wins? Even the dire situations I simply outlined are predicated on avoiding the worst final result of all. Let’s say Trump stays in workplace, both by a surprising electoral upset or by his hand-picked Supreme Court justices doing what he selected them to do.
Rolling your eyes once more? Do you actually suppose Trump cares about limiting abortion rights or Constitutional originalism or the rest he can’t match into his pockets? Or that Mitch McConnell and the GOP rushed Amy Barrett’s appointment for any purpose apart from having her seated earlier than the election? She and Brett Kavanaugh have been political appointments to attain political ends, which is at all times how autocrats view the judiciary.
A Trump victory would legitimize his politics and insurance policies the best way his election in 2016 normalized his rhetoric. Then, after 4 extra years of Trumpism, the one query would probably be: Who is the following Trump in line? The autocrat’s heirs may very well be anticipated to hold on the assault on the remaining pillars of American democracy. When one facet fights for energy in any respect prices in opposition to these defending the rule of regulation, time is just not on the facet of the regulation.
Defeating Trump overwhelmingly on the polls is crucial step, nevertheless it’s solely step one. Americans who need to see the rule of regulation restored and strengthened have to be able to battle for it — within the courts and within the streets if vital, peacefully however persistently –because there may be little doubt that Trump and his supporters is not going to go quietly.
Trump has spent 5 years dehumanizing his opponents and portray them as America’s mortal enemies whereas conditioning his followers to see issues as he does. They is not going to depart the sector simply, however depart they need to, or American democracy is not going to outlast them.