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Cockburn US Politics

Team Trump and the art of magical thinking

You don’t have to be a NeverTrumper to worry that the Republican party has gone mad

November 13, 2020

5:32 AM

13 November 2020

5:32 AM

While he has some affection for mild stimulants and depressants of all sorts, Cockburn tries his best to avoid substances that detach his mind from temporal reality. But the past week has given Cockburn frequent cause to wonder if he has broken his own rules. Fortunately, his colleagues have reassured him otherwise: Cockburn is, sadly, quite sane. It’s the Republican party that has gone mad.

No, Cockburn hasn’t joined the Lincoln Project (please shoot him if he does!). The GOP hasn’t gone mad on policy. It’s gone mad over the election.

Republicans may hold the Senate against all odds. They shocked everyone by gaining House seats. Democrats were pulverized at the state level, meaning Republicans will control the 2021 redistricting process in most states.

But of course, all these successes pale compared to the biggest prize: the US presidency. And there, it seems, that despite dramatically defying the polls, Donald Trump went down to a narrow but clear defeat.

Just don’t tell Republicans that. Rather than move on to the acceptance phase of grief, the party remains in the deepest throes of denial. Ohio local lawmaker Aaron Carpenter’s Twitter take speaks for millions of GOP voters:


John Roberts is going to nullify a national election by fiat? John Roberts wasn’t even willing to nullify Obamacare, and that had the benefit of being unconstitutional. This, it saddens Cockburn to say, is magical thinking.

Carpenter is far from alone. Much as fervent Shiites await the return of the 12th Imam to redeem the world, the most fervent Trump believers are waiting for the magnificent development where the President turns the tables, ensnares his enemies, and lets everyone live MAGAly ever after.

Any moment now! Another 4-5 favorable court rulings and the President will flip a Biden state to his column! Then there will just be two more states to go!

The same magical thinking apparently prevails inside the Trump administration itself, and in fact inside the Oval Office.

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So, if the administration is still filing lawsuits and the President still insists he will win, can Republicans be blamed for believing them, and eagerly looking forward to victory?

Yes. Yes they can.

For heaven’s sake, Donald Trump has been president for four years now, and the dominant figure of American politics for five. It should be rather obvious by now how he works. The President’s 2017 transition was so bungled that it took him until approximately now just to staff his administration with people who agreed with him. In 2020, the President spent all year claiming mail-in voting was a fraud vehicle, but waited until election night to have his son-in-law-in-chief go casting about for a lawyer. ‘Trust the plan’ does not work, because there is no plan. And the longer Trump’s supporters continue waiting for his miraculous triumph, the longer it will take them to begin the much more difficult task of moving past him.


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