We’re approaching a significant finish line for our nation, by which I mean Joe Biden’s anticipated inauguration on January 20, without having gone through an obvious revolution. There’s still time, however. Who can say for certain if such an upheaval is more likely to come from the left or the right? The country is so polarized that either seemed possible. Some of Donald Trump’s most deluded followers, believing to the last that their dear leader was somehow cheated out of electoral victory, have vowed that Biden and Kamala Harris will never take office. How this will be prevented isn’t spelled out. On the other hand, if Trump somehow succeeds in one of his outlandish schemes to subvert the will of the voters, the clear majority that voted for his opponent can’t be expected to take that lying down.
The American election of 2020 should have been declared over and done with several times already. In any case, it was officially over once the electoral college voted emphatically on December 14 to uphold the will of the majority. It would be nice to be able to take a breath, but Trump keeps coming up with all kinds of fantasy ploys, up to and including a military takeover. The creativity of his imagination isn’t exactly a surprise, since he’s never been all that tethered to reality. He might make a good novelist, if only he were more literate. The real problem is that far too many lawmakers who surely know better have avoided shutting down his absurd ideas. Worse, an appalling percentage of citizens would be perfectly okay with Trump effectively declaring himself dictator. With stupidity in this country more rampant than Covid, such an outcome isn’t as implausible as it should be.
So we can’t rule out the possibility that some stranger-than-fiction Civil War 2.0 still looms on our horizon. Our current president, utterly ignorant of history and still clueless about how government works after four years at the head of that government, craves a banana republic. He hopes his followers will fight for such a republic, where he could remain in office for life. Of course, he would decline to involve himself directly in such a fight, citing those same pesky bone spurs that kept him out of military service during the Vietnam era. For that matter, why can’t such a glorious commander simply order the virus, which has so bedeviled his administration, to magically disappear, as he once promised it would? Unfortunately for him, both the rule of law and of nature have been stubborn so far.
I had a mild concern, before the election, that my novel in progress, tentatively entitled Gilded Prisons, might be overtaken by events. Admittedly, that’s a small concern compared to the possible demise of the republic. The story features a president with dictatorial ambitions, although much smarter than Donald Trump and much more knowledgeable about how the system actually works. I seem to be exploring what might happen if the next dictator wannabe has similar ambitions to overthrow democracy, but is actually intelligent enough to make a case that isn’t totally absurd. Such a chief executive, by looking and acting somewhat normal, might be able to win over people who aren’t sniveling cowards or downright stupid. That would have to be someone who hasn’t spent his or her entire tenure in office spouting incredible whoppers that shouldn’t fool a reasonably bright child.
If there is no revolution this time, it might be owing to Trump’s general incompetence and limitations. He actually doesn’t care about the politics of it, but only about himself and his brand. The job itself never interested him, except for its money-making potential. The next coup that aims not only to enrich one man and his family, but to change democratic institutions permanently, might succeed. Then it will be time for a people’s revolution.
I’m beginning to realize, as my novel winds toward its conclusion, that it foresees a time when the rule of law actually implodes, and the U.S. Constitution is effectively shredded. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be happening right at this moment. No doubt there will be more desperate gambits, all the way up to inauguration day, but so far there have been enough people of integrity to hold the line. Part of me wants to see the wannabe dictator removed forcibly, thereby suffering a taste of the violence that he has absolutely no problem trying to visit on others. But the better part of me wants to see the rule of law continue to prevail. A peaceful counter-revolution like that beats a violent revolution every time.