While President Trump has always wanted to be a King, it is now apparent that he is the Mad Queen. You know the one I mean: the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.
But let’s start at the beginning of this chapter.
To start with, The Associated Press is not an arm of the government. Just because this press service declared Joe Biden to be President-Elect doesn’t mean anything, Constitutionally-Speaking. Not even if you add ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News.
Our Constitution specifies how this is determined, and readers may be surprised to learn that if Trump defies tradition, then we will not have a true “President-Elect” until January 6.
Here is the actual process for 2020, with the appropriate dates, courtesy of the Congressional Research Service:
December 14, 2020: Electors Vote in Their States
December 23, 2020: Certificates Must Be Delivered to the Designated Officials
January 6, 2021: Joint Session of Congress to Count Electoral Votes and Declare Election Results Meets
On January 6, or another date set by law, the Senate and House of Representatives assemble at 1:00 p.m. in a joint session at the Capitol, in the House chamber, to count the electoral votes and declare the results (3 U.S.C. §15). The Vice President presides as President of the Senate. The Vice President opens the certificates and presents them to four tellers, two from each chamber. The tellers read and make a list of the returns. When the votes have been ascertained and counted, the tellers transmit them to the Vice President. If one of the tickets has received a majority of 270 or more electoral votes, the Vice President announces the results, which “shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President.” [My emphasis]
So if President Trump wants to hold on until the bitter end, he can continue to ignore Joe Biden’s claim until the first Wednesday in January. Once that happens, Trump is still President, but he will be SOL (Shit Out of Luck).
If you have watched The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) or if you play chess, then you will know that when the game is obviously lost, the loser knocks her King over without further play. This would be like Trump conceding the election. It would be the gentlemanly thing to do — but when has Donald Trump ever acted like a gentleman?
What we are currently witnessing in the Trump Camp is pretty much political theater. Trump is setting himself up to spend the rest of his life proclaiming “I wuz robbed.” Many of his fans will buy it. So Mike Pompeo, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and their ilk are seeking to avoid alienating die-hard Trumpsters by paying lip-service to his protestations. This creates a situation that is both ludicrous and dangerous.
Let’s start with ludicrous. Donald Trump is playing golf, loudly proclaiming that the Democrats rigged the vote, and taking satisfaction in firing political appointees who for various reasons have earned his ire. In this, he is taking his role directly from the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.
The Queen of Hearts doesn’t play golf, instead she is playing croquet. She doesn’t use a 3 iron, she uses a flamingo. Not a golf ball, but rolled-up hedgehogs. And the best part is that she uses her avid retainers (think Pompeo, Graham, McConnell) in the following manner: “[they] had to double themselves up and stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.”
And the most satisfying part for the Queen — as for Trump — is proclaiming “Off with their heads!”
Thus far Trump has beheaded Secretary of Defense Mike Esper and several other Pentagon officials, as well as Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who had the temerity to say the election was “secure” from tampering. Next in line may be CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray. It is clear that Trump would like to get rid of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. But Fauci is a Civil Servant and has job protections that strictly political appointees do not.
The dangerous aspect of Trump’s theatrical performance is that it heightens the already inflamed feelings on both sides of this election. Anne Applebaum, writing in The Atlantic, notes that Trump’s base consists of people who believed that Barack Obama was not a US citizen, and therefore his government was illegal. This core represents about 33% of the American public, and 72% of the Republican Party.
Applebaum’s title says it all: “Trump Won’t Accept Defeat. Ever.” She argues that Trump is making a play to keep this base with him, no matter where he goes next. This might be to secure an audience for his own media empire; it might be to continue as a kingmaker and scourge in the Republican Party; it might be to put himself forward for the Presidency in 2024.
Sadly, unlike the Queen of Hearts, we readers will not be able to “close the book” on Donald Trump. The evil that he has done will live long after he departs the White House. And, from his point of view, being carried out bodily by the Secret Service will be just the kind of high drama that will mark the beginning of his glorious new career.
By Adam Corson-Finnerty
First publication date: November 18, 2020
Adam Corson-Finnerty is an occasional writer and local Democratic Party official in Bucks County, PA.
Most of his recent writing has appeared in Medium. https://corsonf.medium.com/