Soooooo, GSA Administrator Emily W. Murphy has (finally) ascertained officially that Joseph Biden is the next President of the United States. And that represents the end of what is (hopefully) the last conceivably effective option at the current president’s disposal to override democracy and simply … install himself as an unelected second-term president.
No supporters of Donald J. Trump would view him that way, of course. They would quickly and cheerfully embrace whatever alternate reality that their president paints for them using his limited command of the English language. If he told them that Lizard People from Venus hacked into the voting machines via telekinesis, they’d follow right along.
So we in America have gotten a reprieve from madcap authoritarianism — at least until Trump runs again in 2024, or one of his children does. The latter is the worse option, I think — each of the Trump kids are just as shameless as their father, and each is profoundly less stupid. (Look at their Twitter feeds. They can speak English.) They might have better chances of reaching the White House and remaining there. (It’s been said by wiser men than me that Donald Trump could actually succeed in becoming a dictator if only he weren’t such a goddamned imbecile.)
Or what about some other opportunist who successfully targets Trump’s surprisingly broad demographic? This country has no shortage of foul-mouthed, egotistical, tough-talking white guys who lash out on the Internet and falsely claim to have all the answers. (Look at me, for example.) If we could export these assholes, they’d make up more than half of our gross national product.
We don’t need Donald Trump to end the American Experiment. We just need someone like him. All we need is another charismatic demagogue who can attract financial support, and who can lead bullshit, televangelist-style pep rallies and who (more importantly) can manipulate social media to spread disinformation.
American exceptionialism is a myth — at least as far as authoritarianism is concerned. The people of this country are no less susceptible to its appeal than people where authoritarians have seized power in the past — places like Germany, Italy, Russia, China and elsewhere.
And they don’t need Trump to trump democracy. The fight goes on, as all good fights do.
Because Trump’s defeat today still only gives us what Franklin told us we had when (apocrophally, at least ), he exited the Constitutional Convention in 1787 — “a Republic, if you can keep it.”