As the counts began to look dicey for the President, he reacted like he was always going to. But the election confirmed that his rage and defiance are shared across great swathes of American societyby Sam Tanenhaus / November 6, 2020 / Leave a comment
The endgame when it came could not have been blander: teams of volunteers seated at long tables, opening great stacks of envelopes. Inside each was a mail-in ballot, and the sorting and counting went on for long hours after the polls closed on Tuesday 3rd November: hours and then days. By dawn on Thursday, the outcome was still unknown, though Joe Biden appeared to be inching towards the 270 Electoral College votes that he needed to unseat the President and bring to an end the chaotic presidency of Donald Trump. The votes had come in places—Maricopa County, Arizona; Wayne County, Michigan; Washoe County, Nevada; Door County, Wisconsin—remote from the minds of virtually all Americans other than those who had been closely following the election and the strategies of the two campaigns.
Trump made the pretence of protest, a seditionist speech or effusion at 2.30am on Wednesday morning—blustering to a cheering crowd at the White House (150 supporters, few or none wearing masks). “Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump declared—another first. No serious candidate for president, much less an incumbent, had ever declared victory so far in front of the actual results. Then again, who but Trump would call the election in which he was claiming victory “a major fraud on our nation,” having earlier tweeted that his opponent Joe Biden and the Democrats were “trying to STEAL the election.”
The teams of lawyers were soon unleashed—in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—alleging “irregularities” and “fraud.” At a press conference in Philadelphia, the President’s younger son, Eric, let rip in the aggrieved tone that has become the soundtrack of the Trump years: “We are going to file a suit in Pennsylvania… It is the last thing that we wanted to do, it’s the last thing my father wanted to do. But this is rampant corruption. It can’t happen. It’s not fair. This isn’t democracy.”
Of course the opposite was true. It was his father who had threatened: “We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court—we want all voting to stop.” He meant to say vote-counting. But the error conveyed the actual truth—not only on election night but for the whole of his presidency. Of all Trump’s…