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Are we really going to have a civil war to protect Donald Trump’s hurt feelings?

As Republicans continue to refuse to concede, Jon Voight compares Biden to Satan, Lindsey Graham raises money for the president’s legal fund, transition funds are withheld by Emily Murphy and marches on DC are planned. Has it really come to this?

Stephen Lyons
New York
Wednesday 11 November 2020 17:45 GMT
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On the morning the presidential election was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a hawk flew down from the heavens in my back yard and grabbed a squirrel. Huge crows then swooped in and made a raucous protest, but it was all for naught. The last I saw of the squirrel was its bushy tail soaring upward into the clouds. 

Today, as I write this, with a handful of exceptions, Republicans in Congress refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming results of a legitimate election. And they are hardly silent in their denial of democracy. Like those noisy, obnoxious crows, senators like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham have dutifully parroted President Trump’s talking points: the media does not decide elections; widespread fraud in Democratic-run cities led to Biden’s victory; and refusing to concede power is therefore the right thing to do.

Texas Sen. Cruz said on (surprise!) Fox News that the election results are “way premature. At this point, we do not know who has prevailed in the election.”

South Carolina Sen. Graham — who won his re-election, but lost all claims to being an independent thinker, or really anything but a lapdog for the president — warned that, "If Republicans don't challenge and change the US election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again."

OK then. So be it.

Then there is this transparently partisan development: General Services Administration head Emily Murphy (a Trump appointee) has thus far refused to release the necessary monetary resources to the Biden transition team. The last time there was a delay in releasing the transition funds was in the contentious, highly litigated Gore v. Bush election in 2000. 

These resources, created in the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, amount to almost $10 million for activities related to the transition. According to Government Executive, which covers “the business of the federal government and its huge departments and agencies,” these activities include “sending agency review teams to visit the agencies, making personnel and Cabinet appointment decisions, and cultivating policy and management agendas.” 

Since Emily Murphy’s refusal to release the funds became public knowledge, many tweeters taking democracy into their own hands circulated her office number in the hope that American citizens would call and ask her for an explanation. When I called myself, somehow negotiated the phone tree and pressed what I believed was the correct number, I received the following: “Sorry, this number did not answer.” Government in action, I suppose.

At this moment, not surprisingly, President Trump has still not conceded the election to Biden. No congratulatory call has been made according to our American tradition. Yet those calls have come in from many world leaders. The mayor of Paris said, “Welcome back America.” The UK prime minister Boris Johnson said he’d had a long and productive conversation with the president-elect.

But inside the great US of A, the talking heads at Fox News continue to push the narrative of a stolen election, as if miraculously all the precincts, in all the counties, in all the states that voted for Biden coordinated to defraud the president of a second term, but yet failed to defeat even one Republican House candidate. Magical thinking indeed.

Then there is the matter of upcoming Trump rallies where the victimized president can take his grievances to his angry base. Far-right activists say they are planning a “March for Trump” this weekend in Washington DC (or a “Million MAGA March” depending on who you speak to); we don’t know yet if Trump himself will speak at it. Would the American taxpayer foot the bill for flying the president around the country if these marches and rallies continue right up to January 20th? Would the networks and cable news cover the events?     

One wonders if this planned “MAGApalooza” is part of an effort to soothe Trump’s hurt feelings as he adjusts to being what he has never wanted to be: a loser. As I listen to the chattering class and read the pundits, I can’t help but be amazed at the attention to the various moods of Trump. His aides seemingly tiptoe around him for fear that he will learn the truth and explode. Instead they send him golfing and freshen his Diet Cokes. They were, reportedly, so afraid to tell him that polls suggested the election might not go his way that he was genuinely shocked at the result. His son-in-law advises him to exhaust all quixotic legal challenges. Rudy Giuliani, just in from Ukraine, with rest stops in hotel suites and odd landscaping joints, continues to carry the water for his paymaster. (His other personal litigator, Attorney General Bill Barr, has not been seen in public in weeks, despite ordering that the Justice Department take Trump’s claims of election fraud seriously from behind the scenes and thus provoking the resignation of his top election crimes prosecutor. Well, shredding documents does take time.)

Throw in voices such as failed media darling Megyn Kelly and B-level celebrity enablers such as James Woods, Scott Baio, Jon Voight (who openly compared Biden to Satan) and Kirstie Alley, and you have a veritable mob of crows cawing into the wind. At this point, with the nation and the world celebrating an end to four nightmarish years of an autocratic and venal administration, it’s just so much noise. 

Stephen J. Lyons is a freelance journalist as well as the author of four books of essays. His most recent book is “Going Driftless: Life Lessons from the Heartland for Unraveling Times”

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