“What are you laughing at this time, Swamp Rabbit?”
He was bent over his antique laptop, drinking Wild Turkey and reading an opinion piece in which a historian explained why “the Founders” didn’t anticipate some future president who might refuse to accept being voted out of office:
They couldn’t fathom two things: a person who had become president who was so utterly lacking in classical virtue that they would deign or dare to put their own interests above the unity of the country. And the second thing is, I think they couldn’t fathom how any president who would so vividly display disdain for the unity of the country, and mock and undermine the legitimacy of American democracy, why that person [wouldn’t have] already been impeached and removed from office.
He stroked his wispy goatee and said, “Hard to believe there weren’t no Trumps back in them colonial days.”
I told him that Trump types had existed throughout American history, working as snake oil salesmen, carnival barkers and politicians. A few of them even became presidents of the United States. But no former president, no matter how Trumpian, had ever tried to stay in office after he lost an election, if only because he knew he couldn’t get away with it.
“But that’s all over now,” I continued. “This time we got a president who spent his whole life as a real estate hustler and a reality TV host. Then it turned out the elected officials in the political party that backed him had become — or always were — just as corrupt as he is. They stuck with him when he got impeached, despite incriminating evidence. They stuck with him again when he refused to accept his re-election loss.”
“Well, there you go,” Swamp Rabbit said. “They must be in love.”
“Let me summarize, rabbit — the laws governing the conduct of a president are deeply flawed. A president can do whatever he wants if the party that runs the Senate takes his side and the courts play along. He can’t be stopped by the U.S. Constitution, which is a tattered old quilt held together by nothing but so-called norms. Nobody in the mainstream media seemed to notice this until Trump and his goons started shredding it.”
Swamp Rabbit took a big drink from his flask and shook his head. “Them’s mighty big words, Mister Know-It-All, but Trump is a loser this time, even if he ain’t decent enough to concede.”
“He’s a loser because the vote-counting process was upheld in court as he tried to delegitimize it. If election officials had given in to his bullying, Republicans would have hailed his successful coup. But they wouldn’t have called it that, of course.”
“Enough, already,” Swamp Rabbit said, logging off his laptop. “The system worked. Biden won.”
I reminded him that Trump had fired an FBI director for investigating him, used the attorney general as his personal lawyer, used the presidency to advance his personal business interests, tried to extort a foreign government and, in general, demonstrated that the Constitution is too vaguely worded to prevent presidents from grossly abusing their power.
“You’re right, Biden won,” I said, “but what happens when a smarter Trump type is elected president? And what about all those crooked Trump lackeys who are still in Congress?”
My mangy friend presents himself as an Everyman figure, so I was eager to hear his reply. He seemed to think it over for a minute, but then I realized he had passed out.