And that’s an understatement. Watching how most Republicans are reacting to the ongoing counts and recounts taking place around the U.S., it’s pretty obvious if Trump is knocked out, they’re not going to concede gracefully–or at all. Which brings us to this depressing, if likely accurate prediction by David Watkins (boldface mine):
Perhaps the most concerning element of all this is that this violence born of bigotry and misogyny and fueled by an endless barrage of conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric blared by Republican-aligned media organs, is occurring at a time when conservative white men should be feeling ascendant in institutional power. The most openly far-right defender of the privileges of white men since the early 20th century sits in the Oval Office; conservatives just cemented a majority lock on the Supreme Court through the confirmation of a hot-tempered hardcore conservative credibly accused of sexual assault; and a Republican party farther to the right than it has been in decades is in total control of the federal government and dominates a clear majority of governor’s offices and state legislature.
…they know this ascendancy is short-lived. Donald Trump was not expected to win the presidency, and in fact lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Republicans maintain control of Congress largely through the anti-majoritarian nature of the Senate and through voter suppression and gerrymandering in the House and many state legislatures. With each passing year the nation’s electorate is increasingly urban, better educated, more liberal, more secular and more diverse. Despite its temporary political dominance, social conservatism is ever more broadly mocked and disrespected in larger society, and conservative economic orthodoxy has long since lost credibility even among Trump’s voting base. The #MeToo movement is, at long last, holding abusive men to account for their predation on women since the courts have proven incapable of doing so. Every day the country looks, thinks and behaves far more like California than like Idaho, regardless of the reactionary temperament of its elected officials.
But all of this raises a terrifying question: if this horrific wave of right-wing terror is rising when these deplorable men are at the height of their political power, what happens when even that power is wrested from their control?
…What happens when these hateful men discover that even politically, the country is finally irrevocably lost to them? What kind of asymmetric violence and terrorist insurgencies will we see from them when they don’t just feel disempowered despite all their power and privilege, but actually do find themselves truly out of power?
And what will we be prepared to do about it as a society to hold to account those who radicalize these extremists?
It’s that last sentence which is critical. Republicans–and at this point, distinguishing between Republicans and Trump is a mug’s game–have faced few consequences for radicalizing conservative white men. Yes, they lost the House (which is a good thing), but they likely kept the Senate. Fox News isn’t seeing their ratings decline, and the bugshitcrazytarians on the Internet, by and large, seem to be doing alright (with some notable exceptions). To date, I see no reason why Il Trumpe, were he to lose in 2020, would not attempt to call the validity of the election into question. In his personal case, that’s as much narcissism as anything else, but for his followers and for Republican apparatchiks, they are deeply invested in him, and will not go quietly, unless there is a cost to that bad behavior. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what that cost could be to discourage this.