Wise Words From A Wise Man

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.

I have shared Mr. Reich’s work a few times before, and today I do so again.  His topic is one that I have given much thought to over the past two years and have serious concerns about.  Please take a few minutes to read it and think about this, for I believe Mr. Reich is correct, have long believed so.

Robert Reich: Be afraid of the president who refuses to lose

Photo of Robert Reich

The United States is now headed by someone pathologically incapable of admitting defeat. This doesn’t bode well for the 2020 presidential election.

Among the most chilling words uttered last month by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, were “given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”

Cohen should know better than anyone, but we already had reason to worry. In 2016, when polls showed Hillary Clinton with a wide lead, Trump claimed the election was rigged against him.

He refused to commit to honoring the election results if he lost, warning that he’d “reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.” He added that he’d accept the results of the election “if I win.”

Throughout the summer of 2016, Trump’s claim of election rigging was echoed on Fox News. Newt Gingrich spoke of “a long tradition on the part of Democratic machines of trying to steal elections.” Rudolph Giuliani declared that “Hillary and [Tim] Kaine are right in the middle of the Washington insider rigged system.”

Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, said federal officials couldn’t be trusted to prevent voter fraud, warning that “if you’re relying on the Justice Department to ensure the security of the elections, we have to be worried.”

By early August 2016, according to a Bloomberg poll, 56 percent of Trump supporters believed the election would be rigged. (Among all voters, only 34 percent predicted a rigged election; 60 percent rejected the idea.)

Even after the election, Trump refused to accept that he had lost the popular vote. Still claiming election fraud, he established a presidential commission to find it. When the commission came back empty-handed, he abruptly dissolved it, saying (wrongly) that it had uncovered “substantial evidence of voter fraud.” No such evidence emerged.

For Trump, losing is the deepest form of humiliation, and humiliation is intolerable.

Every time he has lost a legislative or legal battle during his presidency he has blamed the other side, and has lashed back: shuttering the government, declaring a national emergency, whipping up his followers against recalcitrant judges, Democrats, the media or whomever he holds responsible.

Imagine it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down.

Only this time he’s already president, with all the powers a president commands.

Traditionally, Americans have trusted our system of government enough that we abide by its outcomes even though we may disagree with them. Only once in our history, in 1861, did enough of us distrust the system so much we succumbed to civil war.

Typically, when an election is over, the peaceful transition of power reminds the public that our allegiance is not toward a particular person but to our system of government.

Five weeks after the bitterly contested election of 2000, and just one day after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of George W Bush, Al Gore graciously declared: “I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.”

But what happens if an incumbent president claims our system is no longer trustworthy?

Trump’s emissaries have already seeded the battlefield. Last April, Sean Hannity of Fox News predicted that an attempt to impeach Trump (or presumably remove him from office any other way) would cause “fighting and dividing this country at a level we’ve never seen … those that stand for truth and those that literally buy into the corrupt deep state attacks against a duly elected president.”

Trump’s former consiglieri, Roger Stone, has warned of “an insurrection like you’ve never seen” and claimed that any politician who voted to oust Trump “would be endangering their own life.”

Just last month, Steve Bannon, another of Trump’s bottom feeders, predicted that “2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since the Civil War, and I include Vietnam in that.” He didn’t make a prediction about 2020, but we can guess.

We should take seriously Michael Cohen’s admonition that if Trump is defeated in 2020, he will not leave office peacefully.

Republican leaders as well as Supreme Court justices and civic and religious leaders across the land must be prepared to assert the primacy of our system of government over the will of the man who refuses to lose.

29 thoughts on “Wise Words From A Wise Man

  1. Dear Jill,

    I just commented on this expectation that President Trump would not graciously lose the 2020 presidential elections as I read that post before this one.

    He would be acting out of character if he did not call on his millions of supporters to rise up to civilly and not so civilly protest in the streets if he ended up losing the 2020 election. He would do his best to create unrest. I’m with Robert Reich and Bill Maher on this one.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robert Reich is saying the words that many of us have been thinking but have been afraid to say out loud, lest they become true. There can be little doubt that a man who lies about anything and everything to maintain his position will willingly abdicate the pinnacle of his power without a fight. I would like to say “when he loses” but will simply say “if he loses”, I fear that our country is going to endure trials and tribulations that heretofore have not been experienced post a presidential election…a new civil war. Thank-you for this important post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sigh. I doubt that we will actually see a civil war in the organized sense of the word, but I do believe that whatever happens, be it impeachment, the use of the 25th Amendment, or simply an election loss, we will see an increase in violent incidents. Sure, some white supremacists, evangelicals, gun-totin’ rednecks will try to organize the masses, but they aren’t likely to be successful on any large scale. What concerns me more is the steps that will be taken to forcibly remove him from office … and I believe those steps will be taken … and the undermining of the entire foundation of government. Sigh. I almost hope not to even be around by then.

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  3. King Donnie will never give up the reigns (sick), now that he has them. They will have to be torn from him. Is civil war a possibility? I believe it is. The worst part being he owns the armed forces, and the nuclear bombs. If he drops one on New York City, what will happen? His Pets will cheer for him, of course! What’s a mere 8 million people in comparison to wearing a crown on his head?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can see him dropping one over LA, not NYC… his big, beautiful precious office tower would prevent him from acting against personal and financial interests. He should drop out of 2020 race if he had half a heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Is civil war a possibility? Sure … almost anything is a possiblity, but I don’t see that happening in any organized sense of the word. What I do anticipate is outbreaks of violence between those gun-totin’, racist, anti-women’s-rights trumpeters and the rest of us. Random acts of violence or white supremacists and evangelicals who seriously have the arrogance to believe their ilk can make the world a better place. Will Donnie drop a nuke on NYC or LA? Nope. If he did, he would be killed almost before he could get his finger off the proverbial button. And no, my friend, he doesn’t own the military … if he tried to order them to do the unthinkable, I honestly believe the generals would refuse to issue the order to their troops, and the troops respond to their higher-ups. So … yes, there is likely to be violence no matter what happens, but I don’t think it will be an organized thing.

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  4. Jill, it is interesting that Bill Maher has been saying this for six months and people laughed. The rambling and untruthful President will only become more unhinged as the death spiral he is in hastens, Per a current editorial by Kathleen Parker regarding Trump’s “lying ears,” she highlighted Trump taking Kim at his word over not knowing about the maltreatment of Otto Warmbler (sic). He pays attention to everything in his country which is why people worry about not clapping for him enough. She points out Trump has taken the words of Kim, Putin and the Saudi Prince over his own intelligence staff. Yet, he believes of he hugs a flag, people will overlook these acts. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the really sad/scary thing is that a lot of people will put more importance on his photo op, hugging the flag, than on his actions, or lack of appropriate actions. I saw one earlier today … the picture of him hugging that bloomin’ flag and somebody had written “Now do you democrats see how he loves our country?” I almost was sick.

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  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Excellent read …. ‘Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century .
    This topic is one that I have given much thought to over the past two years and have serious concerns about. Please take a few minutes to read it and think about this, for I believe Mr. Reich is correct, have long believed so … ROBERT REICH: BE AFRAID OF THE PRESIDENT WHO REFUSES TO LOSE!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chilling, prophetic words. I believe Trump to be the mouthpiece of corruption and bottom dwelling gangsters that now runs this world. You will have a tough time to rid yourself of this blood sucking vampire and his various ‘Renfield’ sidekicks.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I had thought the very same for some time now. I couldn’t picture a smooth transition if he were to lose the 2020 election, and if impeached, I could see him refusing to go, perhaps even barricading himself inside the White House. When I saw this piece, written by a well-established intellectual, echoing my own thoughts, then yes, a chill ran right down my spine. I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head yet, as you’ll notice from my p.m. post today. Sigh. I would like to reset the clock to 2008!

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