President Donald Trump isn't making American history; he's breaking it.
From the first day, he's broken every rule in the book for presidents. Aren't we broken now? The state of the nation is hurting, grieving for lives lost in 2020.
We the people should brace for a vexing time after Nov. 3, 2020, Election Day, and before Jan. 20, 2021, Inauguration Day. The president won't be a good sport if he loses. As he plunges in polls, defeating Joe Biden isn't the safe bet he bragged about. Losing would drive Trump mad — with nothing to lose.
Christmas would not be merry. Trump (alias Superman) could take revenge on the country, with full powers of his office. He has methods to do that in the strange limbo period of two months, two weeks and three days.
The "Un-American president" hasn't even promised a peaceful transition, which George Washington took care to demonstrate for American democracy. We always have peaceful transitions. But the press asked a question that should never be asked, as if Trump had a choice in the matter.
Trump has no choice but to hand over power peacefully, but he thinks he can do "whatever I want" under that head of hair. For all we know, he's considering martial law. In June, he stormed peaceful protestors with chemical agents, sending out the National Guard and unidentified armed federal agents. Ugly as it was, we may see that scene as a show pilot for the second season.
I'm counting the days in limbo, for it may be the most dangerous time American citizens face since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when President John F. Kennedy conducted a peaceful stand-down from nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
This time, like a Shakespearean tragedy, it's the president we have to fear. In a blind rage, mortified, acting like a mad King Lear roaming the heath, Trump will show no mercy to those who wronged him. If it's the majority of the electorate, so be it. He'll surely call the election "rigged" if he's the loser — as already threatened. He'll say voting by mail is a fraudulent Democratic scheme to subvert him. Fair and square is not the way he plays.
Trump's likely to delay or contest results if Pennsylvania and Wisconsin go blue by a narrow margin. He could signal to scary white male supremacist friends to take to the streets in Michigan mayhem. A goodly number of his followers have guns and a truculence that can only be described as Trumpian.
On Monday, Trump attacked three major states in the Union on Twitter, a handmaiden to his hate. He said the Republican Senate should hurry the ritual hearings for his Supreme Court nominee and go to a vote on Amy Coney Barrett. Then he flew to Florida for a maskless rally a week after being hospitalized with COVID-19.
All in a day's work for the American people. Trump loves to defy experts openly and brazenly — especially government medical, intelligence and military experts. Why not heed public health experts in the pandemic? Disrespecting people who know more is central to his contrary psyche. Experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci were the smartest students growing up.
Constitutionally grudging, Trump can't defer to experts (or anyone) with grace or for long. Book learning was never his strong suit.
Like no president before — or, hopefully, after — Trump has defiantly broken the customs of common decency. No president went out of his way to taunt so many people, including reporters, generals, the House Speaker, Cabinet members and all of Africa. No other president (except Richard Nixon) had so many advisers face time in federal prison.
In the latest news, no president placed a nominee on the high court so close to a pending election. Abraham Lincoln did not replace the vicious racist, Chief Justice Roger Taney, before the 1864 election.
If Trump succeeds, he'll have three Justices who helped George W. Bush win Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court 2000 election deadlock. Yes, they flew to Florida: John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and young Barrett joined the Bush brigade in bitter battle.
So, one clear clue: three proven partisan warriors under their robes. For starters, Trump is counting on just that.
Jamie Stiehm writes on Washington politics and history. She may be reached at JamieStiehm.com. To read her weekly column and find out more about Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit creators.com.