If there is one man who, in his heart of hearts, believes Donald Trump can’t overturn this election — it’s Donald Trump.
Firstly, it’s pretty much common knowledge at this point that he’s eyeing a run in 2024. Secondly, he’s already said he’d leave the White House when the time came. Thirdly, no lawmaker, judge or general is ready to support his plans to turn America into a dictatorship. And then there was the electoral college vote that simply didn’t go the way he wanted it to.
And now that Congress is going to finalize the result on January 6th, Trump is looking at what could be the nail in the coffin.
And that’s when he wants his supporters to come out in numbers and protest. At first sight, it might look like he’s trying to pressure Congress. But it’s anything but. Because a man who’s already down and out for the count has no chance of getting an entire Congress to commit political suicide.
Besides, that’s not the real reason he’s doing it anyway.
It was around this time last month that I wrote an article titled, “The Real Reason Trump is Still Refusing to Concede.” And I feel it’s still just as relevant today. Because, like I said then, all Trump is doing is playing the martyr.
Why? Well, it has everything to do with 2024. Trump seems to be firm in his belief that he’ll run again. And the truth is, if he’s to have a shot at not losing his base, he needs to show them he never gave up.
It’s what dictators like him do. Their politics is predicated on the notion that they “fight for us.” They portray themselves as “men and women of the people.” Trump is doing the same. He’s telling Republicans their election has been sabotaged by the political establishment and that their democracy is under threat. But more than that, by endlessly trying to overturn the election, he’s showing them that their “strong man” is still standing stall — even when “the world is out to get him.”
This tactic of projecting strength is how democratic dictators win and then keep office. That’s how it was done in my country. And it’s happening around the world too. Take a look at Britain, India and Russia — three countries all ruled by dictatorial “strong men.”
But — and here's the key — it only works if people buy it. So far, they have. But Trump’s tactics are only going to work if they send America into a frenzy. Why? It’ll show his supporters that their leader still packs a punch. And that feeds directly into the whole idea of projecting strength.
Which leads us to the obvious — what if it all just falls on deaf ears? What if America doesn't pay him any attention?
The entire stunt falls flat on its face.
You see, Congress isn't going to care either way; they’ve got their own elections to win. This is why he’s going back to the very source that gave him power in the first place — the people. And if they simply don't care, if it doesn't make the news, then it’s like it never happened. Trump and his supporters will be protesting in a vacuum.
And that is crucial. Because Trump has already created political instability. The Biden administration is not only going to have to deal with Covid but an America that’s cut right down the middle. And the longer Trump’s charade goes on, the harder Biden’s job gets. Why? One word — momentum.
If Trump can keep the anger flowing and the protests going till Biden’s inauguration, he’ll be handing over an America that’s at boiling point. And what does that mean? The country will be one nudge away from chaos. That, make no mistake, is in Trump’s best interest. We all know, from 2016, how dangerous he can be when he’s got everything to win and nothing to lose. And being that dangerous, sending American politics into chaos, is how Trump can make Biden’s chances of governing effectively as difficult as possible. Because once that happens, once the government is being choked, he’ll have reality backing him up when he goes around the country telling Americans just how “incompetent” the Democrats are. And what does that do?
It stirs anger, resentment and distrust — three emotions Trump is an expert in exploiting.
And things can only get worse from there. This is where you see the rhetoric get dialled up. This is where you see Trump leading protests. This is where you see democracy being destabilized.
Why do I say that? Because that’s what dictators in my country have done and are doing to this day. And Trump, in recent months, has been a spitting image of them. Every tactic, every ploy, it seemed like he was deliberately pulling from their playbooks. So when he’s come this far, when he’s left no stone unturned in his quest to strangle American democracy, it’s only inevitable that he goes all the way.
And this is why every single stunt he pulls from this day forward needs to fail. By that, I don't mean that no one shows up. His supporters are too loyal for that to happen. What I mean is that no one outside of them gives him the light of day. Why? Over time, a lack of publicity is going to push him to irrelevance. When no one outside his loyalists hears what he has to say and watches what he does, he’ll be preaching into the void.
But that doesn’t mean that the instability will go away. It means that its effects will be greatly reduced. You see, the main aim of creating havoc of this sort is to destabilize the current (in this case future) administration. But in order for his attacks on democracy to have that sort of potency, he needs the masses on his side. When he stops going viral on social media, when the networks get tired of airing him every single day, and when the people just don’t care anymore, his message, by definition, loses force. How? Because when a dictator like him begins to be treated like he’s irrelevant, the people ask themselves why. And it doesn’t take long for the average voter to connect the dots; that the only reason he’s in this to begin with is to save himself.
And that — that turns people off. No one wants to lose their self-respect by standing behind a man who clearly couldn’t care less about them. And like Trump gaining traction can have a spiral effect, so can this. Because with time, with his message reaching fewer and fewer outside his core base, he begins to drift away into political obscurity. This is when you see people like him being publicly written off.
And while that may be the dream of many Americans today, I do have to admit that I think it won’t play out quite like that. Why? Because there’s one thing that stands between Trump and such obscurity — the novelty factor. He’s America’s first dictator. Is the news going to let go? Are people going to stop watching? I doubt it. I see America hanging onto Trump with a certain kind of paradoxical reverence. Perhaps as a reminder of the evils of yesterday or simply out of curiosity. It’s going to be asking the question of, “What will he do next?” You see, America hasn’t seen this before. And this is the mistake countries often make — they don’t let go of their dictators when they’re supposed to. And all that ends up doing is pushing them deeper and deeper into the black hole of autocracy. How? Because giving constant attention to them normalises authoritarian politics.
And make no mistake — this is one of America’s biggest challenges going forward. Can they let go? Can they let him fade away? Or will they cling on, watching his every step, giving him the traction he so desperately needs, and take their country closer and closer to fascism’s return in 2024?