Given that Trump is likely to face enormous problems upon his exit from the White House, it is understandable that he views it as a safe house—a residence to be retained irrespective of the damage he does to the country’s underlying institutions.
So how does he win? He wins by creating an atmosphere that the election is rigged—that all his votes were not counted. In fact, Tuesday night he talked about votes already cast for him having been found in trash cans. Of course, no real specifics were shared. But even more troubling is his obvious effort to stir his radical base to mobilize in any way they see fit to disrupt the voting process, and to discourage voters from voting on election day November 3rd by telling these radicals to show up at polling sites.
His hope is that, with so many mail ballots being cast throughout the country and with only two states, Florida and Arizona, counting those ballots as they come in, he will be ahead on election night. He can then declare victory and, when the votes turn to favor Biden, assert fraud and go to the courts where he hopes to find a majority of sympathetic right-wing, Trump-appointed judges who will affirm a win for him.
Along with this judicial strategy, he is issuing a not-at-all subtle call to right-wing radicals and militia types to do what they can to intimidate voters and otherwise disrupt the electoral process and its aftermath. His direction to the Proud Boys, “stand back and stand by,” was immediately adopted by them as their mantra. They feel empowered that Trump embraced their group at the debate and took his statement as a rallying cry. Who would imagine that the President of the United States would in effect be issuing a call for civil insurrection? But that is the core of the Trump effort. And it adds fuel to a threat that's been on the rise in recent years here at home, nationwide, and abroad.
I am reminded of the Watergate era and the huge contrast between the actions of Republican leaders then and now. At that time, senators like Howard Baker (later Nancy Kassebaum’s husband) and Barry Goldwater stood up and spoke out when evidence of wrong-doing was clear. Their actions led to Nixon’s decision to resign and the peaceful transfer of power to President Ford. The Republican senators acted with political integrity and real concern about doing what was right for the country.
What happened then, however, is beginning to seem minor compared to the Trump assault on our democracy that is manifest today. There were, of course, serious concerns about Nixon himself and what had happened in the course of the Watergate break-in and cover-up, but, in truth there was no serious constitutional crisis nor was there a real threat to our democracy.
If Roberts and Moran as well as wanna-be Senator Congressman Marshall and the rest of the Republican Kansas delegation stay silent, in essence giving license to Trump to proceed, they will join other Republican-elected officials who share responsibility for undermining our democracy. In their silence, they will have broken their promise to support the Constitution of the United States of America. Our democratic system and institutions could be a casualty of their cowardice.