From Trump to Biden II: Will he leave?
November 9th 2020
The question on everyone’s mind:
Is he going to leave?
My first answer: No. My second answer: Yes. My third answer: No.
Trump will not concede the election. The only way I see him admitting defeat is if the rest of his party starts talking in one voice to make him do so. No signs of that happening; so far, the list of conceders includes Romney, Dubya and Chris Christie - pretty thin on the ground. Instead, most prominent Republicans are staying silent or worse: they are parroting Trump’s claim that the election was fraudulent. I can’t tell you how dangerous that is:
Once 50% of the system is forced into adopting the stance that a transfer of power is illegitimate unless they win, all bets are off in terms of what will happen to the system as a whole.
I do think he will grudgingly commit to leaving office sometime close to Jan 20th, but in the meantime, he will ‘campaign’ as if the election was stolen, which leaves him with the option of declaring his candidacy for 2024 on Jan 21st.
Trump’s self-understanding as well as political charisma are too closely tied to his image as a winner. A winner who lost because of fraud is primed for a come back. In fact, it gives him a platform to be in the opposition as if he were a ruler and force Republican ruled states to enact policies that reflect his agenda.
As far as I can tell, Trump has never put other people’s interests over his own. His self-interest is 100% aligned with him denying the validity of the election and and given the hold he has on the Republican base and his capacity to retain media attention, every other Republican politician has to toe Trump’s line or risk being primaried. And soon the network of reinforced lies will be too dense to deny later. Moral of the story: once-in-four-years, winner-take-all systems are too easily hijacked by 24/7 social media immersion.
So yeah, I don’t see him leaving.