We have every right to wonder what some of the Republicans who are now sheepishly repudiating Donald Trump would be doing had Trump won a second term. We can look to history and wonder the same thing about Albert Speer, for instance. Would Speer have renounced Hitler had Hitler won the war? I don’t know about you, but I doubt it.
In any case it’s too late to become a Never-Trumper now. For one thing, the word “Never” won’t permit it. For another thing, it could have been a measure of character to stand against Trump at a time when it was not necessarily in anyone’s best interest to do so, and far too many Republicans failed to meet that measure.
Susan Collins, for example, had a famously difficult time negotiating that high wire act. But one thing she demonstrated beyond doubt is that her character has been permanently besmirched. She may have saved her senate seat, but she lost for all time the esteem of history. She will never live her vacillating down.
Republicans who chose to tether their fortunes to Donald Trump will soon be called to account. Whether they were laughing or blushing all the way to the bank, the halcyon days of Trump supremacy are over. No one will care whether they were staunch or cautious allies. The degree to which any of them supported Trump will soon be a hair too fine to split. A Hitler supporter is a Hitler supporter. You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.
The biggest question will be the question of criminal culpability, and if your name is Bill Barr or Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump or Rudy Giuliani or Donald Trump Junior or Stephen Miller or Lindsey Graham or any of a dozen or so other people dogged with such serious questions, I really wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now. If you’re not quaking in them then you’re not paying attention. Or you’re in serious denial.
As with Faust the bargain people made for their association with Trump was a poor one from the very beginning. If Donald Trump proved anything he proved over and over that long term loyalty just isn’t his bag. Ask his two ex-wives or his current one. If you’re not with him 100% of the time 24/7 then he will disavow you or cheat on you without hesitation, and he might do it anyway. And loyalty is never returned. Never. Whatever rewards anyone thought they could garner for being loyal to Trump is a mystery. Involvement with Donald Trump has always been a Faustian bargain, and it’s astonishing how many people signed up for it.
Any Trump supporter at risk of prison and hoping for a last minute generic pardon from Trump, like the one Ford gave Nixon, can continue to hope in vain. Pardoning the fools who aligned themselves with him is not high on Trump’s list. It’s too much like giving a crap about his supporters, and nobody has bigger contempt for Trump’s supporters than Trump himself. Besides, pardoning people on his way out would constitute a tacit admission that he really is on his way out. That’s not an admission that you’re ever likely to get from a narcissist.
But to the rest of us living in the real world, it’s now over, and the price for the trip must be paid. Many people who associated with Donald Trump ought to go to prison, and if the past is any predictor of the future, they will. Trump himself is highest on that list, of course. If you think he doesn’t know it, think again. It’s a possibility he is probably entertaining. Even narcissists know that actions sometimes have consequences, however unfair they may deem those consequences to be.
Those of us who have personally dealt with malignant narcissists know the playbook firsthand. There will never come a point when Donald Trump will admit that he lost the election. While his erstwhile adherents conclude, one by one, that he has indeed lost the election, he will remain steadfastly adamant that he did not.
Any way you cut it, Joe Biden won the election with 306 electoral votes. Or, in the words of a tweet by Kellyanne Conway: “306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic.” Only she wrote that about Trump’s win in 2016. Give her time, sooner or later she will probably realize it applies to Trump in 2020 as well, even though Donald Trump himself never will. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.