Column

Donald Trump Would Rather Burn the Whole Country Down Than Lose

What’s worse than Trump when he’s winning? Trump when he’s not.

President Trump speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the White House. Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

If you’ve ever divorced Donald Trump, you know that things don’t end well with him. The United States is already getting a horrifying idea of what that process looks like. Nearly 165,000 of us are dead, and there is copious evidence that this is because Trump was afraid a Covid-19 outbreak would make him look bad with voters. So he pretended the pandemic could never happen. Well, it happened, and thanks to this absolute fucking monster, it will remain happening in America for much longer than it has been in other, more worthwhile countries.

There is a certain portion of the American population that will stick with Trump no matter how many people he kills or how many innocent protestors he has tear-gassed so he can pretend to be a Christian. Your Codys, your lower-end Karens, etc. But there are now a great many indicators that the rest of the United States has had enough. White women suddenly aren’t too fond of the man. (Took them long enough.) Joe Biden opened with a huge lead on Trump in the spring and has since built on it, particularly in the dreaded swing states. Yes, yes, I’ve seen this movie before, but one perceptive Biden operative told Politico that there is a fundamental difference between now and 2016, because in 2016, Trump had no presidential track record to run on. He now does, and it is profoundly abysmal. The difference is real, and it is substantial.

So, naturally, rather than turn his numbers around by being, you know, a competent leader in crisis, Trump and the Republican Party have already begun dismantling the electoral system, and the country, so that his atrocious numbers won’t end up mattering at all. On Friday night, one of his stooges gutted the leadership at the U.S. Post Office, at a time when mail-in ballots, which tend to favor Democrats, will prove vital to an election taking place in the middle of a plague. That same stooge is also openly extorting states for expedited election mail. Trump also signed an executive order touted as a second relief bill that really just absolves the federal government of spending a significant amount of money on aid — if the order is even legal to begin with, and who the fuck ever knows with this guy? And he refused to put a moratorium on evictions. A lot of us are gonna end up jobless and homeless because of this inaction, which could produce an information famine for tens of millions of people right when they desperately need to know when/where/how to vote, and when they need that information to be accurate. But don’t worry, Trump’s order includes a payroll tax cut that starves Social Security and Medicare, so at least your grandparents will die out in the street alongside you.

Now that the endgame is in sight, we’re getting Trump in Full Divorced Guy Mode, pulling out every last vindictive move in his arsenal.

He wants to shut down TikTok, thereby silencing just about every single teenage opponent of his, including my oldest kid. He wants to reopen schools, which has already stoked the pandemic’s embers. He has deliberately withheld aid from blue states because he doesn’t give a fuck if voters who live there die. He put onerous demands on pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers right when they need to operate with peak efficiency to make supplies for pandemic relief. (Leave it to Trump to make me feel bad for pharma companies.) He sent mercenaries and other assorted goons to our cities, Portland being the foremost example, to beat the shit out of people at random. Oh, and he and the GOP are now working directly with Russia to influence the election. I have to say, bitching about your opponents rigging elections for two decades so that you can dismiss the outcry when YOU actually rig one is a neat little bit of jujitsu.

There’s no sense in me predicting the coming election, because I have gotten such predictions hilariously wrong in the past, but also because any prediction I make would be laboring under the pretense that this election will take place in a country that works. This country doesn’t fucking work anymore, and Trump already knows that the more broken we are, the more he and the GOP can take advantage of its weaknesses. This has never been a functional marriage between a country and its president. But now that the endgame is in sight, we’re getting Trump in Full Divorced Guy Mode, pulling out every last vindictive move in his arsenal and relentlessly browbeating his partner — that would be us — until they don’t even know why they’re bothering to fight him anymore.

Since June, I have been strangely optimistic about the fate of this country. I watched the Black Lives Matter movement storm into the mainstream and take up firm residence within it. But Trump has already proven that there’s no bottom to his presidency, and he’s determined to pull us ever further down into the abyss. He’s not done ruining our lives. And even if he DOES lose in November, I have to worry about him actually conceding, and then I gotta worry about the two ENDLESS months he’ll spend as a lame duck, shredding every last document and burning every last dollar he can get his miserable hands on. In such ways, he’s a strikingly predictable man. He lives to abuse, and he delights in seeing his victims finally give in after the onslaught. That is how he wins, even when he loses. That’s what’s in store for us as this year comes — with glacial speed — to a close.

Twelve years ago, I was like, “Oh wow, America’s future is bright! We might even have flying cars soon!” And now I’m like, “Boy, I hope New Zealand starts welcoming refugees.” My kids tell me this country sucks, and even though I want to reflexively defend it, I have neither the energy nor the proof to dispute them. I wish this country still mattered, but it doesn’t. If Joe Biden wins, he’s gonna need to spend the next four years just making it so I can get the mail on time. That’s how fucked we are now, and that’s just how the GOP likes it. If they can’t have America, neither can the rest of us.

Columnist at GEN. Co-founder, Defector. Author of Point B.

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