There’s more than one explanation for Trump’s refusal to concede: that he cannot manage the narcissistic insult of defeat, that he wants to support Georgia’s Republicans in a January 5th runoff, or that he wants to bolster his chances of a following after January 20th (for a television network, another campaign, or simply to vacuum donations into a political action committee). Some or all of these might be motivations.
His party, however, faces a problem greater that one man’s selfish ambitions. Writing in July, Francis Wilkinson observed that Trump’s Party Cannot Survive in a Multiracial Democracy (‘Republicans have stopped trying to break their dependence on racial resentment’):
The GOP embrace of Trump has further narrowed the party’s already restricted access to the growing segments of the American electorate. It is deeply unpopular among voters under 40 who will determine the future of the U.S.
In propping up Trump’s corrupt and derelict administration, the GOP has grown increasingly authoritarian. Having repeatedly failed to take an exit ramp from white nationalism, the party finds an exit from democracy itself beckons as the only sure means to stave off further electoral decline.
Trump’s particular desires and his movement’s general desires coincide. The farther one looks forward, the worse the future looks for Trump: he’s unfit, in debt, and under investigation. The farther one looks forward, the worse the demographic prospects for Trump’s base. Unprincipled self-interest pushes them to undermine the constitutional order.
In this authoritarianism, Trump and his inner circle are like those who express a fancy for cannibalism: they are already so far from normal inclinations that they aren’t to be trusted.
This will be no conventional transition.
There is no isolated localism: what stains the country stains the city.