One question that I get asked over and over is “What if Trump loses and doesn’t leave?” Actually, it’s not so much a question as a statement of worry. My reply to that “question” is always the same: “If Trump loses my bet is that he makes noise but leaves. We can make him leave by turning worry into work that ensures that he loses in a landslide. Stop focusing on Trump and own your responsibility. This is on you, not Trump.” I wrote something on Trump’s tactic of puff ‘n bluff that I hoped would calm some nerves. None of that seems to be enough. So, I am going to look at some things that happened in the near and far past to illustrate how Trump acts when things get tough. Maybe that will clarify things. I will start with last week:
- Trump sends federal police into Portland, a campaign ploy intended to cause chaos for the cameras. His goal is “domination.” Instead, more people hit the street to protest Trump, police overreach, and white supremacy. Lawsuits start flying, Trump’s poll number drop, the man threatens more cops and…. he’s out of there! Once Trump is on the defense, he surrenders.
- John Lewis dies. Trump doesn’t like him, but so what? When a historic figure like Lewis dies, presidents pay respect by going to the funeral. Clinton, Bush, and Obama show up. Trump doesn’t. Trump doesn’t even move his ass less than a mile to pay his respects when Lewis was lying in state. Trump’s behavior wasn’t so much a snuff, as a coward’s move. Unlike John Lewis, Trump will not go where he isn’t wanted. He doesn’t have the guts.
- Trump had McConnell shove all kinds of crap into a COVID relief bill, including a new FBI building next to Trump’s DC hotel, an attempt to shore up his inn’s business. Democrats and Republican balk and ditch Trump’s demands. He doesn’t fight for it. He says nothing.
- DeVos and Trump threaten to cut off federal funds to states if states do not allow schools to reopen. It is an empty threat but still a noisemaker. Major school districts and a few states look at DeVos and say, “Get out of here, crazy lady.” Trump and his pals squeal and go silent.
- Appointments. When Trump nominates someone to fill a position and that nomination gets hung up or rejected in Congress, he doesn’t push it. Rather than get in into an old-fashioned political fight, take some punches and risk his nominee getting smashed, Trump sneaks around conflict and appoints an “acting” office holder. Trump has done that more than 15 times.
- The Republican convention. Lots of noise around the convention. First, North Carolina says “No mass gathering, especially without social distancing or no masks.” Trump throws a fit and threatens North Carolina’s ruin. NC doesn’t budge. Trump fails to retaliate. He decides to hold the main show in Florida. Florida says okay…and then as the South goes south. COVID cases explode. Jacksonville’s sheriff says, I can’t do this. Local officials start getting nervous. Republican office holders bail on attending. Trump says that the show will go on… and promptly caves, using COVID as cover.
So, I gave you four recent retreats. Portland was an authoritarian play, along the lines of not leaving if Trump loses the election. Here are some other things:
- The Wall. Trump fought for the Wall, was thwarted, did some backdoor moves to get money, and then pretty much gave up. Fact is he has 110 miles of new wall and replacement wall that is rotting. Trump talks big, real big as far as the wall goes, there is no action. He simply gave up and started lying about his “success.” Trump’s Wall is a complete, total failure.
- Obamacare: There was the big push by Trump early on to “repeal and replace.” The Republicans had both chambers of Congress and FAILED. Since then, Trump has tried to attack the ACA in the courts, but the drive has been sloppy and half-hearted. Meanwhile, he keeps promising a great new healthcare plan, which for some reason never seems to surface.
- Executive orders: Now, every time Trump signs a shitty executive order, there is a lot of news coverage and social media outrage. Fine, but do you know what happens to these orders? Probably not. I follow these things and what I’ve found is that all of the really potentially damaging ones wind up in court, where most die or are stalled. When the courts spike an order, that is the end of that. Trump does not revise the order and go back a second time. He’s a One Time Tony…except for immigration-related stuff. The immigration orders are all Miller’s ideas. Those get revived because Miller is an active ideologue. Without Miller’s push, those would die, too.
- Budgets: Presidents do not draft the national budget. Congress does and the president signs off. However, presidents do float their own budget proposals. Every budget cycle, Trump has floated his proposals. Everyone is horrible. Every one is either trashed or ignored. Congress does what it does with a little White House input from Mnuchin and the OMB (but not Trump). Congress passes it and Trump signs the thing. Sometimes he writes a complaint but he still signs. Related: Way back in the beginning of this nightmare, Trump issued Boy Jared’s government reorganization plan. It’s about 75 pages and sits on my desk coffee stained. I am pretty sure I’ve read more of it more times than Trump has. I know what’s in it, he doesn’t. I also know that it came and went without much of a peep.
- Strongmen: Notice that other than the piss-fight with Kim Jong Un, Trump doesn’t attack strongmen. He courts them deferentially. Even Kim. After the rocketman tantrum, they became BFFs. When Kim started acting up, Trump either made excuses or was quiet. He rants on China, but not Xi. Xi is his pal. Putin fucks with the US, including putting bounties on US soldiers, and Trump is silent. Perhaps Putin has something on Trump, but Kim, Xi, Erdogan? Trump is personally scared to mix it up with these men because Trump is a coward. He will attack democratically-minded leaders, especially women, falsely believing that only strongmen are tough.
How about Trump’s pre-presidential life? There we see a lot of bark but very little bite. His business MO is to court but not fight the powerful. Sometimes the courting turns to begging. Seriously, he begs…mostly banks and probably Russians. When he plays tough guy, he picks on small contractors and people who do not have the means to fight back. If they dare do try to take him on, he buries them with lawyers, knowing that he will win a war of financial attrition. He bullies with attorneys.
When someone with power or deep pockets challenges him legally -such as a state – he blusters and then settles out of court, as he did with Trump University. If an adversary has power and/or resources equal or more than he does, Trump avoids one-to-one legal challenges. He runs from the fight.
In the physical realm, Trump surrenders himself to shitty food and scorns exercise. He is lazy and slothful. He avoids exertion. Obama jogged and played basketball while in office. George W. Bush chopped wood and cleared brush. Trump golfs, which is no more than a couple hours of swinging a stick about forty times. Most golfers walk the course. Trump is driven around in a cart, and onto greens, which no one does. Oh, and he cheats at golf! He might spend a lot of time on the course but there is a good argument to be made that he doesn’t even play golf. He just walks around with sticks.
How about fighting? Trump fancies himself the tough guy and is fast to talk fisticuffs, but when has he ever mixed it up? I’ll tell you when: On WrestleMania (and other WWF/WWE events) where everything was staged. Trump’s big move there was climbing into the ring. Trump’s wrastlin’ takes the sports out of sports entertainment. Trump is not a fighter. Like most bullies, he is a bluffer.
As far as entertainment goes, Trump’s one solid success is The Apprentice, but even there he didn’t do much more work than show up (in his own building. The show’s set was in Trump Tower) and read from a cue card. All the show’s conflict was scripted and since Trump was cast as the boss, Trump always won. When it came to the real work that made the show a success, blame Mark Burnett, producer and showrunner. If the show’s success was reliant on Trump’s “hard work,” The Apprentice would have been reality TV’s Vinyl.
Children: Very few things are as difficult as raising children. I don’t have kids and I know that to be true. Trump bailed on his children. He proudly put the responsibility of raising his kids on moms and nannies. Aside from Ivanka, Trump uses his kids as props for photo-ops and that is pretty much it. Ivanka is a prop and his main sexual interest. And he doesn’t even use Baron as a prop, he neglects that kid. Trump refuses to do the hard work that is required as a parent. And, I’m talking about the kids that we know about. God knows how many kids are out there that he fathered out of wedlock, secret children that don’t know he’s their father. At best, the most those kids have gotten from Trump is a check.
This is Donald Trump. Trump is a coward who can’t handle any conflict where he stands a chance of losing. He lives a very shelters life where most of his fights have been staged. His wealth has protected him from the harsh realities of life. He surrounds himself with people who bow and scrape, “Yes sir, boss, whatever you say. You are so smart and handsome.” He talks shit, a lot of it and loud, but the shit talking is puffing. He thinks that mouthing off is toughness, but inside he lacks whatever it is to act, to get in a knock-down, drag-out fight. When faced with real conflict with an equal adversary he has always given up or ran.
What is there in Trump’s history and his nature to suggest that he will overstay his welcome? Where are the ovaries or balls or whatever that he needs to take on Congress, the courts, the military, and, most important, a popular uprising that will make Portland look like a kiddie party? The man refuses to endorse a candidate in Kansas’s Republican primary for Senate, fearful that he might make someone mad or be on the losing side. Oh, he will make tons of noise between now and November. He will throw a fit when he loses. But, once anyone slaps him down, if past is prologue, he will give up.
You want something to focus on? How about the election itself? Trump is very much behind in the polls, including in states he needs to win. He is doing everything wrong and is incapable of course correction, though I don’t think a change in how he acts or what he does will mean much now. He has no political strategy, just a series of thoughtless plays engineered by half-assed creeps like Chad Wolf. God damn, he is going to run on his 2016 platform, half of which is attacking “the president,” which was Obama but is now Trump. And, rather than examine what he is doing wrong, he whines that “Nobody like me.” So, the odds are against him, but never say never.
Turn your concern into action. Register to vote, register other, engage, work hard. Make sure you know your state’s rules about in person and absentee/mail-in voting. Trump might be fighting mail-in, but many Republicans on a state level are not. They know that they benefit from mail-in. I write that so you know that Trump is not all-powerful here, however, you still need to know what is up with your state. And don’t stop with you. Make sure others vote.
If you are truly worried about Trump refusing to leave, don’t give him a chance to stay. Let’s wipe him out in a no-questions/no-bullshit total landslide. Let’s send him out with him owning the failure of a lifetime. But why stop there? Crush Trump and Republicans will go with him. We can hand Democrats the presidency, Congress, and maybe a few states. We will no longer be playing defense. We will be on offense where we can fight for change and fix this country.