December 28, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson

Donald Trump accomplished too much during the primaries of 2016, his campaign for the presidency, and his  four years in the Oval Office for me to believe accusations from both Democrats and Republicans, the right and the left, that whatever he does is “all about him.” Indisputably, Trump has a powerful feeling for the dramatic, even to the point of showmanship. But so have the most successful and popular politicians in a democratic age: in America the two Roosevelts, for instance, and in England Churchill and Boris Johnson.

Since November 4, Trump has been working furiously to dramatize the weaknesses of the American electoral system, many or most of them caused by the corrupt intentions of the people who manage it, whether they have succeeded in realizing those intentions or not. The presidential election may have been stolen this year. If not, it certainly wasn’t for want of trying. And while political corruption is always to some extent bipartisan in nature, only a thoroughgoing partisan would deny that it is more often intended, and practiced, on the left, as the Democrats’ blatant exploitation of the pandemic to own electoral ends demonstrates. I believe that President Trump—who spent four years being victimized by vicious and undemocratic partisan actions, many of them criminal ones–is trying, honestly and sincerely, to publicize for the country the wholesale corruption to which the American political system has succumbed. I believe further that he genuinely does not view his nearly two-month campaign as being “all about him.” I think he sees his protest, rather, as the patriotic duty of an outgoing Chief Executive.  Nevertheless, he has made his point, even as he and the president’s men have failed to come up with hard evidence sufficient to prove that the election was indeed stolen, and that Joe Biden is not a democratically chosen President-elect.

But now it is time for him to cease and desist from his campaign to have the results overturned and leave office with dignity—which is not to say that he should leave it quietly. That would be as unnatural an event as a hurricane leaving New Orleans, Pensacola, or Houston quietly. It is an entirely unreasonable thing to expect that a force of nature should be anything but unquiet. You cannot ask a force of nature to be untrue to itself, and you should not ask a strong , decided, determined, and highly accomplished man to do the same. A spent hurricane is a disturbance in the air that has lost its dignity entirely. But Donald Trump is not a spent political force—nor, for that matter, is he a spent man.  That is the chief reason why he should quit the White House without further ado, and continue being the intraparty hurricane that he has always been.

After all, the election of 2020 would hardly  be the first election in this country to have been brazenly stolen. Mayor Daly clearly stole the one in 1960; but Richard Nixon chose to concede anyhow for  what he saw as the good of nation. (He was probably wrong about that.) Leaving office on January 20, Trump will remain at the head of his party, and far and away its most popular politician. As party chief, his first responsibility will be to ensure that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue win their elections in the runoffs on January the fifth. Trump’s stubborn insistence that every Republican official, elected or otherwise, should continue to support him in contesting his loss in November is clearly damaging the candidates’ prospects next month. Further, his insistence that they (including , most recently, his public pressure on Senate Majority Leader McConnell) do so is not conducive to his work in future of holding the GOP together under his leadership and assuring that the Republican candidate for president in 2024 will be either himself (should he still wish the nomination), or a Trump Republican inspired and vetted by him.

The next year will almost certainly determine whether the GOP remains Trumpist, or at least populist—or not. This is the moment for the hurricane to leave the White House—but not Washington, where his special work of creative destruction will be needed more than ever.