We Need to Prepare For the Very Real Possibility That Donald Trump Won’t Leave Office

With election night just over a week away, we as citizens must start coming to grips with the very real possibility that Donald Trump won’t leave office. While no one can know for sure exactly how the election will play out, Trump has given us more than enough signs for us to legitimately prepare for this.

The United States is at a very crucial moment going into this election. COVID-19 has drastically changed our lives. Things we had come to expect and take for granted were suddenly ripped out from under our feet. Seven months into the pandemic, it doesn’t seem like we will ever be able to fully return to how our lives were before it hit. There is only now before COVID and after COVID.

Across the country, we are operating on different levels. While some people are taking precautions and doing what they can to minimize the spread, others aren’t even convinced of the virus’ existence. Half of the country operates with fake news that the virus isn’t real, or that it’s no worse than the flu, or that masks don’t work, or that it’s not that deadly.

It’s not that these are merely Internet conspiracy theories; Florida governor Ron Desantis announced he will be lifting all COVID restaurant regulations, and will be suspending mask penalties. Florida is the third highest state in the country in terms of total cases, and fourth highest in terms of new cases per day. To do this is to actively work against stopping the spread of the virus.

The past seven months of COVID has pushed everyone to the brink. It has heightened every problem with this country, and it has exposed every person manipulating those problems. Just look at what happened with the George Floyd movement. With everyone already on the tips of their toes, such a brazenly brutal execution in the middle of the street led to protests in all fifty states. Plainly and clearly, we watched the police retaliate against the people.

Cops needlessly and severely beat protesters with no caution about being filmed, because they knew they would face no consequences. Cop cars drove through crowds of protestors. Cities were torn apart by clashes between the people and the police. What was abundantly clear was that there are people willing to take to the streets to defend what is right. However, it also showed just how shamelessly far the police are willing to go to protect not just themselves, but also those who in turn protect them.

There was someone else wanted to protect what he thought was right. Kyle Rittenhouse, doing his patriotic duty of defending his country, took the streets in the midst of a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and shot two protesters. He has since been heralded as a hero on Trump’s side. Christian organizations crowdfunded hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Rittenhouse. Elected officials encouraged him, such as Kentucky representative Thomas Massie who said Rittenhouse showed “incredible restraint.”

The United States is collectively on the edge. With little stability, it makes it even easier for someone to knock it all down.

Donald Trump refuses to lose this election. It is not a possibility for him, because he is a compulsive narcissist. In his eyes, Donald Trump must win everything. It is to the point where he will do everything he can to twist reality and to manipulate things in order to make himself the winner. If he can’t win the game, he will destroy the game.

The Members of Congress who endorse Trump will equally fight for him. Ultimately, his having power means that they too will have it, and losing power is not an option for them. They will exploit a flawed system for the sole purpose of keeping control.

His supporters will take to the streets to fight against a “rigged” election. They listen to every word Trump says, and they believe him. When Trump says the ballots are fraudulent and the radical left are trying to steal the election, they believe him. When the time comes that Trump calls upon them to protect him and their country, they will answer. It is the duty they have been primed for for the past four years.

So what happens when the leader of the largest COVID hotspot in the world, with all of its people pushed to limit, with ruling officials willing to throw everything away to keep power, with citizens battling the police in the streets, with so much doubt cast upon the integrity of the election — what happens when that leader decides that the rules don’t matter anymore?

We don’t know yet how the election will turn out, but I do not think it ends with Donald Trump announcing on live TV that he is conceding the election. I don’t think it ends with him packing his bags and shaking Joe Biden’s hand. To legitimately think this is to deny everything we know about Donald Trump.

I also don’t think it ends with the military dragging Trump out of the White House and putting him in an orange jumpsuit. I think that is unrealistically optimistic, and it puts far too much faith in a demonstrably failed system. It expects that our democratic process will function uninterrupted, and it neglects how much it has already been gutted.

Exactly what will happen, I can’t say for sure. From everything Trump has laid out himself, to everything we have seen happen since he descended the escalator — this is what I am preparing myself for.

With COVID-19, we are not going to get all of the election results in one night. People are already voting, and we’ll be getting more votes in for at least a few of weeks past November 3rd. Many people are suggesting it won’t be until the end of the month or even into December before we have all of the votes counted. This will give Trump plenty of time to twist and turn the facts however he wants to make himself the victor.

With an expanded amount of time to see the direction that the votes are taking, he will then pick the specific results that work best for him, call victory early, and will call any subsequent votes fake news. While Joe Biden may win the popular vote by a wider margin than Hillary Clinton did in 2016, the Electoral College will most likely be a very tight race. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Electoral College is all that matters.

In August, Trump said at a rally that, “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” He will do everything he possibly can to muddy the waters and to create chaos. Trump and his team thrive in confusion, because then they get to tell the narrative.

Trump will say the election was rigged, that the polls weren’t correct, that millions of illegal immigrants voted, that people voted twice. His supporters will believe him, and they will parrot it. Protesters will congregate, and they will be met by armed “patriots”. I would not put it past Trump to tweet that people need to take to streets with guns to defend their country and their president. They will listen. The Proud Boys are standing by, remember?

I am fully expecting massacres across the country as protestors are murdered. I am fully expecting the police to attack protesters and defend the president they endorse. Since Trump will definitively be the president until January 20th, he would be fully able to mobilize the military to silence protestors.

So when there’s violence in the streets and the victor of the election is in question, whose decision does it become? It becomes the Supreme Court’s ruling, which will be slanted conservative just in time by the appointment of a third Trump justice, Amy Coney Barrett. If the results of the election go the Supreme Court, it is most likely that Trump will be favored.

Trump not leaving can manifest in a lot of different ways, but I don’t think it will be as clean cut as Trump losing the election and then refusing to leave. He is going to attack the results in every way he possibly can. By creating so much confusion and chaos, Trump will pave the way for remaining in power. He will cheat his way to victory, and while that victory may be hollow and illegitimate, it ultimately won’t matter because he will have succeeded in remaining in office.

This is not the same as in 2016 when Trump said he wouldn’t accept the results if he lost. I do believe there would have been retaliation from Trump voters, but the United States would have moved on. In this case, Trump is already in the White House. He already has the power. Now that he has it, it will be infinitely harder to get rid of him.

I don’t know if our country can withstand the struggle to remove Donald Trump. The foundational pillars of the United States have been consistently eroding. Over the last four years, Donald Trump and his abettors have stripped away every presupposition we have had about how our country runs. If it isn’t a law, it’s been violated. Even if it is a law, it’s been bent, manipulated, and contested in order to delegitimize it. What we once thought was sturdy about this country has been found to be flimsy.

Many will say that the laws of the United States prevent a president from remaining in power past their elected term. They will say that the laws are too intricate for them to be bypassed. To this, I say that it does not matter how intricate or defined the laws are if someone burns it all down to the ground. If those who are in power stop caring about the rules and simply ignore them, of what use are the rules then? Who is to stop them when they are the ones who are in control?

Donald Trump will take the entire country down with him before losing this election. He will call for his supporters to protect him and to fight those trying to “take away” their country. He will use the full strength of the police and the military to squash those who threaten his presidency. I fully believe that he would rather nuke the entire country than concede the election.

How does this all play out? We are going to find out very soon. While most are expecting this all to end with Donald Trump defeated and a victory for justice, we can’t afford to be that optimistic. Not now, not when this may be our last chance to fight for our democracy before it is completely gone.

For years, people have compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. They’ve talked about how the past four years have looked an awful lot like Germany when Hitler first rose to power. Many have shared the sentiment that they never previously understood how someone like Hitler could come to power, but after seeing the rise of Trump now they understand.

We are now entering the next stage. Hitler didn’t kill millions of people overnight; he did it by slowly and surely twisting a country until there was nothing left stopping him from doing what he wanted. If you think the United States isn’t heading down a similar path, just look at the past four years. If you were to try to tell someone in 2016 exactly where we are now in 2020, nobody would believe you.

The United States is quickly approaching fascism. A country already so chaotic and confused is going to be thrown into the deep end. It greatly concerns me that people are not preparing for this. The fact that so many people have already determined in their heads that Joe Biden will win the election, Donald Trump will be removed from office, and everyone gets to live happily ever after is terrifying to me. The fact that, anytime a Democrat is asked what the plan is for when Trump refuses to leave, they exclusively respond with how much we need to vote, is terrifying to me.

The difference between a fascist United States and COVID-19 is that we were largely blind sighted by COVID. As citizens, we were not expecting COVID to hit, so when it did it threw everyone for a loop. This is different, because the writing has always been on the wall.

As we get closer to November 3rd, it is becoming more and more apparent that people are underestimating what Donald Trump will do to stay in power, and are overestimating the sustainability of our democratic process.

Everyone should absolutely vote in the 2020 election. However, the entire process may ultimately become so corrupted that the results are rendered irrelevant; the decision may have been already made four years ago when Donald Trump first took office.

I’ve been writing about movies since 2014. I studied film at Fitchburg State University, and I’ve written and directed some short films. @nathanaelmolnar

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