If Trump tries to scare you by threatening to have a tornado hit your house, and you cower to him over it, then you make him stronger, because now he can hang that imaginary threat over your head. But if you tell him you know he can’t pull off conjuring up a tornado, then you weaken him, because you take away the thing he was trying to use as leverage against you.
It’s the same thing with Trump’s impossible threat of a military coup. If he could pull off such a thing, he’d be doing it instead of ranting about it. U.S. military leaders publicly stated as recently as yesterday that the military has no role in elections. And no, he can’t just magically replace the military leaders and expect to get anywhere with it. Nothing is that magically simplistic.
When someone makes an impossible threat, and you cower to them as if they could actually do it, you’re giving them the greenlight to demand concessions in return for not doing that imaginary thing they couldn’t do anyway. You’re handing them negotiating leverage for no good reason.
If Trump can trick enough of you into believing he could somehow magically pull off a military coup, then you’ll end up giving him concessions (such as an immunity deal) in exchange for not carrying out his coup. Trump is defeated, crippled, and merely fantasizing out loud about the things he wishes he could do to save himself. If you cower to him at this point, you risk breathing life into the rotting corpse that is his presidency. Don’t be your own worst enemy.
Use your voice to make sure Trump knows that you know he can’t magically pull off a military coup. Then he’ll have to move on from that impossible threat, and acknowledge that’s negotiating from a defeated position of weakness. Trump is merely trying to carve out a softer landing for himself with regard to the prison and bankruptcy he’s facing. Don’t make it easier for him by cowering to him in his final days in office.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report