It’s Not Trump, It’s the Trumpists

Spirited Reasoners understand the occasional fad politician. You know. The guy who runs as a joke, perhaps to send a pointed message to the political establishment. Think Pat Paulsen, the comedian who appeared on various Presidential ballots from 1968 through 1992. See,

We also understand the occasional kook who manages to get elected because the voters weren’t paying enough attention. Think George Santos in New York.

What we don’t understand is how nearly half the population of the United States is apparently willing to jettison our constitutional democracy in favor of ceding power to Donald Trump. That’s what a recent Washington Post/ABC poll apparently showed, though questions have arisen about its accuracy. See,

What worries us about Donald Trump is not the fact that he is a bully or a narcissist or a misogynist or that he cozies up to white supremacists and Vladimir Putin. (I feel like I’m leaving a few things out here.) What worries us is that so many Americans are willing to hand a man like that the keys to our executive branch of government again.

Make no mistake about it. If Donald Trump were to win another term in office, he would not hesitate to use all the power of that office, plus whatever power he could muster on the side, to silence his critics to the greatest possible extent. For example, we could expect changes in our electoral system designed to ensure that the Vice President could thenceforth simply name the winner of any election regardless of the actual popular or electoral vote count.

How do we know that? Because (a) Mr. Trump continues to complain publicly about the fact that Mike Pence refused to break the law by declaring certain Biden electors invalid; (b) he begged, pleaded, cajoled, and ordered the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” a sufficient number of votes to put him over the top in that state; and (c) he continues to claim that the election was “rigged,” notwithstanding the fact that even his own appointed judges have rejected every claim he has brought in that direction.

That one fact alone—that he was willing to do away with our democratic electoral process—should disqualify him as a candidate in the minds of every lover of our constitutional government. The fact that so many Americans are willing to accept such an obvious movement in the direction of dictatorship is worrying to say the least.

Spirited Reasoners can understand voters who are unhappy with the Democratic Party platform. That’s what once made our two-party system so robust over the years. You believe we need less government. I see places where we need more of it. We debate. We vote. We live with our choices for a few years, see who was right and who was wrong, then we do it all over again. Only this time, maybe I’ll change sides if I turned out to be wrong about a few things. Or maybe you’ll come over to my side. That’s what democracy is all about.

But if the Democratic Party platform is the problem, why not nominate a Republican with a different set of policy beliefs—one who believes in democracy but disagrees with Democrats? Once we hand the keys over to a man determined to control the outcome of an election that didn’t go his way, then our democracy would be lost, perhaps forever. How could we ever get it back when a winner can be declared regardless of who actually won the election? All that would matter is what one man says.

Here’s hoping that the early polls have been manufactured for the sole purpose of teasing Spirited Reasoners. We’d like to think that organizations with the reputation of the Washington Post and ABC News would never engage in such shenanigans. But the alternative—believing that half of America really would be okay with a dictator—is hard to swallow.