Donald Trump’s insistence that an nationwide exercise in democracy was fraudulent and corrupt is nothing short of a coup against the very principle that the voter is king.
It is comical, because his rage is from another universe, one he alone inhabits. But it is tragic too.
The significance of the largest turnout of voters in 120 years is being lost amidst the pantomime performance being played out on Twitter, the golf course and the bunker in the White House.
Since Trump is a man who is fuelled by grievance and an over-developed sense of slight, he will continue to rage. His niece Mary Trump, a psychologist, says he will never admit defeat to Joe Biden since that would puncture his narcissism.
The Donald’s performance the other night when he continued to allege that the election was stolen from him was so utterly awful that several American networks cut away from the neurosis, telling viewers they were not prepared to broadcast lies.
He’s getting desperate.
As I flicked between CNN, ABC and Fox News to see who would be the stooges in this slapstick, I did not have to wait long for an answer. Newt Gingrich reversed his embalming to cry foul, aided not very ably by mouth-for-rent Rudy Giuliani.
It became a case of like father like son when Eric Trump demonstrated he had learned from the master in the art of keeping a straight face when knitting together tittle-tattle and ending up at the conclusion the election organisers were corrupt.
The evidence of impropriety which led to the ‘stealing’ of an election was as thin as Mr Giuliani’s hairline and as solid as the President’s. It was an attempt to reduce the serious business of the sovereignty of the people (or at least the electoral college) to an exercise in who can intimidate the most.
Watching Giuliani and Trump Jnr I was reminded of that scene from The Departed when mobster Frank Costello tells two priests in a local diner, ‘In this parish, God don’t run the bingo’.
The offences against truth and the democratic process are outrageous. By questioning the legitimacy of the election he attempts to burn the constitution of his country.
By attempting to frustrate the will of the people he stands alone in modern times as a man without equal in his disdain for the very notion of ‘We, the people’.
Watergate was described at the time as the biggest constitutional crisis in the history of the Republic. Richard Nixon held out against Congress, several attorney generals, the Supreme Court and the media in an effort to conceal his knowledge of a tenth-rate burglary.
It appalled since it attempted to put the presidency above the law and evade the checks and balances of the US constitution. Nixon’s cover-up was over a break in at the Democratic Party’s HQ in the Watergate complex.
But Trump’s behaviour is worse than Nixon’s, much worse. Trump disputes the very validity of the foundations of American democracy.
Nixon exploited process and low politics for the purposes of self-preservation, but he bowed to the inevitable when it became clear he was ultimately accountable for his actions. Trump has no such sensitivity for rules unless they are written by himself to suit his own ends.
The state courts are likely to reject his attempts to elevate allegation to solid legal grounds for intervening in an electoral process. He will throw writs like confetti but ultimately his divorce from the office he holds will be a matter of constitutional fact.
What is just as worrying is the complicity of House Republicans in this charade by their silence. It is natural in politics to give cover to your leader when he or she is under fire. During Watergate, Republicans did that initially with Nixon, but ultimately their support for the sanctity of the office of President meant that they too abandoned him.
If the concept of the vote and the power of the people to determine who leads them is not sacred, then what is? If Republicans don’t very publicly tell him to go then they will have abrogated a basic responsibility and that is to defend their democracy against attack, in this case in the form of megalomania.
Donald Trump’s protestations are unworthy of an American President. This is the kind of thing that used to play out in countries run by the likes of Robert Mugabe and Ferdinand Marcos.
Trump is about to learn that not even the daddy of all showmen can perform his way out of this. The man from The Apprentice was fond of saying, ‘you’re fired’. Now he knows how it feels.