- Donald Trump is well within his rights to contest the election: I'd like to believe that if the shoe were on the other foot, we'd grant Biden that latitude. However, what I'm detecting is something more sinister.
It was a thrill commiserating and then celebrating the 2020 election results with you. The camaraderie we felt last month as we messaged into the night, only to wake up and do it all again, is something I’ll never forget.
On Nov. 7, when the press finally called the race for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I had mixed feelings.
And yet, over the last few days before the results were announced, the happy sensations gave way to one of dread. Most of you know me to be a diehard optimist. Indeed, my texts even deep into the darkness of Election Night showed I was keeping the faith; I began celebrating on Nov. 6, not waiting till the next day.
Three years ago, I predicted the Biden+Harris ticket and that they’d win. I mention that not to boast but rather to lay the groundwork for what I’m about to convey.
Similarly, three years ago, Bill Maher forecast Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.He also said we’re witnessing “a slow-moving right-wing coup“: the complicity of the GOP evidently knows no bounds.
Look. Donald Trump is well within his rights to contest the election: I’d like to believe that if the shoe were on the other foot, we’d grant Biden that latitude. We wouldn’t want him to back down until it was truly over. However, what I’m detecting is something more sinister.
I don’t want to scare you or give you any (more) heart palpitations. But we need to stay on our toes here. Trump is still trying to steal this election. What are his chances? Low. But higher than actually winning it outright. And any nonzero percentage is terrifying: losing in an election isn’t losing your country. Losing in a coup is. If you’re saying, “It can’t happen here,” well… it kind of did. Could you imagine Trump’s getting away with any of the things he has over the last four years? In fact, you could go all the way back to the 1980s: he should be in prison for the stuff he’s done. And still, he’s avoided true accountability at every turn. Right now, he is facing global humiliation, financial ruin, and possible jail time. He needs a victory.
It’s easy to laugh at someone whose campaign began insulting Mexicans and wound up at a landscaping company. Trump is nothing if not a reality star who viscerally understands “The Show Must Go On” and that the television series concludes when he concedes. It’s like the end of the musical, “Chicago,” when nobody even cares what the verdict is… we’ll move on that fast.
But the rhetoric is harsh and the support is real: we have only two viable political parties in this country and one is nearly wholly behind this president. Watch Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech… not at a presser… on the Senate floor.
I know we’re tired. I know we’re exhausted. I know the fight now moves to Georgia, where control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. I know Trump’s best chance was to rig the election beforehand, and Lord knows he tried.
I know he’s trying to delegitimize Biden’s Presidency, which is shameful and dangerous in and of itself; as Americans, we should all be deeply offended by this.
I heard something interesting this week: The last two one-term residents, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, watched their support collapse. Trump’s support didn’t collapse.
On Nov. 7, I drove my wife over to Beverly Hills for sushi near the Prada store. Two blocks before Rodeo, we turned the car around, because we saw hundreds driving pickup trucks and marching down sidewalks, yelling, donning MAGA gear, and waving huge Trump flags. I tell you, though… It was scary. We witnessed first-hand how fired up these people are — and that’s after a (supposed) loss. While I’m no mind reader, this didn’t look like a defeated throng. These folks looked like they knew something we didn’t.
To stay calm, I’ve been scrolling through Twitter… a surefire way to inner peace as it’s an oasis of tranquility. On the real, though, there are brown voices like Asha Rangappa’s, who wrote a masterful thread about why we should step down from the ledge and not worry so much about this 45th President. Then Preet Bharara summed it up with his @-reply to somebody who wrote,
“Just tell me how scared I should be”: “For now, more disgusted than scared. But stay tuned.”
“For now” and “But stay tuned” aren’t exactly reassuring. This isn’t over.
If all Trump wanted to do was settle scores and protect himself by issuing pardons and firing people, he could do that. He earlier refused to honor the peaceful transfer of power, and fired the top brass at the Pentagon… all during a peaking pandemic.
What’s Trump’s path? Well, when you’re winning, clarity is your friend. When you’re losing, chaos is your friend. Aim to distract, deflect, deny, and divide.
Are these likely to work? No. At the same time, they’re not illegal. Isn’t that insane? Yep, there is technically no law that prevents any of those things from being successful.
What stops him? Us. We do. The masses.
When I began writing this, I wasn’t sure of the Ask. What am I imploring us to do? I don’t know. I’m hoping we can find the solution together. But one thing I do know is that we have a platform… some of you much larger than mine. And the other side (pains me as it does to call it that) needs to see that we’re ready to fight.
For now, speak up online. And know that it could develop into more: like the rest of the marches, we may need to get ready to travel. To our cities, to our state capitals… hell, all the way to D.C.
All I’m saying is let’s keep our eyes and ears open. Let’s summon the will that the other guy clearly has. I’d rather win in my paranoia than lose in my smugness. I’d rather pull a reverse-Drake and Cry Now Laugh Later.
And if nothing else, I hope I put that Cornershop song back in your head. You should listen to it. It’s really good.
Rajiv Satyal is a Cincinnati-born, Los Angeles-based comedian and the creator of solo dating show, “No Man’s Land,” available, of course, on YouTube.