Coup

After four years of obsessively watching cable news, I thought that maybe, MAYBE, I’d be able to unplug after the election, and I have tried. But now here we are, perhaps predictably, watching and waiting for Trump to work through his five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, etc. before finally, eventually, arriving at acceptance. Indeed, to hear the cable pundits and pretty much everyone on TV including the Biden campaign and renegade Republicans tell it, the conventional wisdom is, “Don’t worry. This is all theater. No matter what, Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20th and we can move on.”

I think they’re ALL whistling past the graveyard.

We’ve seen this movie before. We thought Mueller would save us. We thought impeachment would save us. We thought the ELECTION would save us if we won. And we did win, right? The gaslighting is so strong we have to squint and continually slap ourselves in the face to remind ourselves that up is up and down is down.

Here’s what’s happening now: All the Republicans (with the exception of the usual four outliers) all the way up to and including McConnell, are going along with Trump’s outrageous fiction that HE WON. Today Mike Pompeo, when asked, said there would be a peaceful transfer of power “to a second Trump term.” Secretary of Defense Mike “God help us” Esper, who apologized to the nation after the stomp down of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, has been fired. The GSA administrator has refused to “ascertain” the election results, stalling the transition process. Barr, after weeks of ominous silence, has unleashed the Justice Department’s investigatory dogs of war. What makes anyone think this attempt to scramble our democracy will all miraculously evaporate anytime soon?

There are a number of formal steps to be taken between now and Inauguration day, any of which could break down; December 8 is the “safe harbor” day when states certify their election results; on December 14 the electoral college votes. With all of the lawsuits, specious or not, pending it won’t be hard for Trump loyalists at every level to throw that process — usually pro forma — into chaos. If it gets kicked to the House, we lose since there are more Republican delegations. When it finally dawns on us that the election is really truly about to be stolen we will surely rise up and take to the streets in massive numbers. The newly installed acting Secretary of Defense will respond to Trump’s order to invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law. Meanwhile, our good friends at MSNBC and CNN, who will have been breathlessly reporting and filming it all, will find their studios invaded and the live feeds shuttered. The rest is silence. Or not.

What we are witnessing in real time is not just another Trump temper tantrum; it is a coup. This is real. Time to stop pretending.

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Jeff Zinn is an actor, director and writer. His book, The Existential Actor: Life and Death, Onstage and Off (Smith and Kraus Publishing) was released in 2015.

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Jeff Zinn

Jeff Zinn

Jeff Zinn is an actor, director and writer. His book, The Existential Actor: Life and Death, Onstage and Off (Smith and Kraus Publishing) was released in 2015.

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