By now you’ve likely heard that after pulling ahead in Georgia and, most crucially, Pennsylvania, Joe Biden will very likely be the next president of the United States. As you’ve probably also heard, Donald Trump is taking it as well as everyone had expected, ranting and raving about all kinds of made-up fraud, demanding counts be stopped in one state and continued in others, and filing numerous lawsuits that stand little chance of holding up in court because they have no merit (and, in some cases, have led judges to believe the lawyers attached to them have recently suffered traumatic brain injuries). At this point, a quasi reasonable person might say to himself, Okay, I’m going to cut my losses, salvage my last atom of dignity, and admit defeat. But obviously Donald Trump is not reasonable and he has no dignity. So instead he’s decided he’ll keep fighting this thing well beyond the point that it’s hugely embarrassing to do so, and even after that fails, refuse to acknowledge that he lost and that Joe Biden is going to be president.
Yes, like George Costanza deciding to just go back to the office on Monday as if he didn’t quit the Friday before, Trump apparently thinks he can just go on being president even if the American people have fired him. According to CNN, Trump reportedly has not prepared a concession speech and “in conversations with allies in recent days has said he has no intention of conceding the election.” The decision to go full delusional has obviously been strengthened by staffers, such as Mark Meadows, who “have not attempted to come to terms with the president about the reality of what is happening” and have instead fed into his claims of fraud; Vice President Mike Pence, who’s been soliciting money for a legal defense fund; and his adult children, who’ve been spouting absurd conspiracy theories on Twitter as they watch the ultimate opportunity for nepotism slip away. While Trump has apparently admitted to some people that he knows the electoral math has no chance of working out in his favor, he has “maintained that a prolonged court battle and corrosive rhetoric about election fraud would sow enough doubt to allow him to refuse to accept the results.”
And while the majority of the president’s inner circle is more than happy to go along with this sad alternative reality, a few members have reportedly grown worried that, eventually, someone will have to sit Trump down and explain that little Donny’s not going to be president anymore-and at this point, it seems unlikely anyone will be able to get through to him short of slapping him across the face and screaming, “YOU LOST! IT’S OVER!” Yes, this is an actual thing allies of the president of the United States are actually grappling with:
It is a possibility the president did not consider in a serious way during the election, despite polls showing him with only a narrow path to victory, believing that looking past Election Day was bad luck. The delicate matter of a loss-and a potential postpresidential life-was not discussed widely among his team and was not raised often with the president, who believed adamantly he would win.
Now people around Trump are working to identify who might be able to communicate to him the stark reality. There has been talk of potentially Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump, though their willingness to lead a difficult intervention wasn’t clear.
Obviously it’s not going to be Kushner or Ivanka, and the only people who think it might be are the ones still laboring under the impression that Ivanka is a “moderating influence” on the president. (Also the first daughter joined her father’s disinformation campaign this morning, tweeting: “Every legally cast vote should be counted. Every illegally cast vote should not. This should not be controversial.” So there’s that.) Hilariously, one idea being floated to convince Trump to accept defeat is “framing potential conversations…around the idea of preserving his brand for life after being president-and explaining that dragging out an election he clearly lost would ruin his businesses and forestall whatever political future he’s hoping for.” This obviously assumes that Trump’s brand up until this point was something other than insane, delusional, and spiteful, or that his followers would suddenly be all, Ooo, this is a side of the guy we never expected. It’s honestly a big turnoff. What