BREAKING: TRUMP EXTENDS TERM BY EXECUTIVE ORDER
The country is in a state of apoplexy as Donald Trump has declared an extension of his presidency through 2022 by Executive Order. In true dystopian fashion, Trump took to the airwaves to announce his decision to effectively nullify the 2020 Presidential Election. In a terrifying realization of past warnings, Trump said it would be impossible to determine the legitimate outcome of the election due to “extensive mail-in fraud committed by the [indiscernible] and deranged Democrats”. Trump went on to say his administration would be “looking into” charges against Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for their “attempted coup”. Trump also targeted other state representatives who allowed universal mail in voting.
Joe Biden, from an undisclosed location, made it clear he will be taking the oath of office and moving into the White House on January 20th despite Trump’s assertion of extended authority. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, has already drafted an injunction that reduces the inauguration ceremony to its absolute minimalist essence. Biden also stated Trump has 48 hours to rescind his Executive Order or face significant legal consequences once he is no longer protected by the power of the presidency. In response to Biden’s threat of prosecution and a complete lack of legal footing, Trump has issued preemptive pardons for his entire family and committed the constitutionally untested act of self-pardoning. Though normally stoic, Melania Trump was seen wandering the newly refurbished Rose Garden in a state of hysterical delirium, much like Cameron Diaz in the final scene of Very Bad Things. Although Biden delivered a forceful, epic monologue, there is little tangible action for the former Vice President to take at this very moment. Trump has remained defiant and has encouraged the splintering of the nation that it is rapidly becoming ungovernable.
Throughout Trump’s election dispute, the markets had muddled along, never reaching a considerable high or low. However, as soon as Trump declared the extension of his presidency, the Dow Jones sank by 3000 points. The circuit breakers, used to halt economic catastrophe by temporarily restricting trading, went on for 15 minutes. When they came off, the Dow sank an additional 1000 points. The suicide-prevention nets are going up outside buildings in the Financial District as economists predict an even lower opening tomorrow. Over 250 years of political and socioeconomic growth were dismantled in Trump’s massively self-obsessed address. Past presidents created historical relevance by uniting the country during dark times; Trump will now and forever be remembered for attempting to destroy American democracy as a form of self preservation.
During the holiday recess, Trump encouraged his supporters to flock to DC to “celebrate the Christian holidays together”. With the President’s encouragement, heavily armed supporters have disregarded DC’s restrictive gun policy and taken up semi-permanent residence around the gates White House. Consequently, DC has become one of the many pockets of anarchy, with Trump supporters from all regions disrupting the peace through agitation. The sycophants surrounding the White House have created a Republican fortress within one of the most Democratic cities in the nation. Evidently unaware of the negative connotation associated with “Hoovervilles” the squatters on Pennsylvania Avenue have dubbed their makeshift neighborhood “Trumpville”. One man, interviewed by Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show, said he traveled to DC to volunteer to be shot by President Trump.
This morning, prior to Trump’s address, members of the new Senate ascended the steps of Capitol Hill flanked by swarms of Trump supporters, decked out in their now familiar MAGA merchandise (made in China). Politicians have famously thick skins, and jeering is usually ineffective against a United States Congressperson--but this breed of political rallying is a different animal. One protestor held a large cutout of a sniper’s crosshairs and enthusiastically pointed it at each passing Democrat. The content of what the Trump supporters shouted at the incoming Congressmen was so vulgar and vile it cannot be repeated for fear of this article being flagged by the FCC.
Normally, the new Senate is sworn in during a private ceremony followed by a photo op in the Vice President’s office at Capitol Hill. In his first public appearance in weeks, Mike Pence looked, to put it lightly, catatonically ill. His normally pale skin has been reduced to translucent. Pence seems as though he would be incapable of performing his duties as Trump’s Vice President, if he had any. Many of the Senators passed on the photo-op for fear of contracting whatever Pence’s team is denying he has. Vice President Pence left Capitol Hill without comment for the press, likely on the way to Walter Reed Hospital or St. John's Church--wherever he gets his medical attention.
The Electoral College is usually finalized in this first session of a Congress. Due to the deliberate stagnation of the results, this did not happen for only the second time in the nation’s history. But despite the theatrics and irregularities in traditional procedure, the Democrats maintained control of the House and assumed the 50-48 majority position of the incomplete Senate. California Governor Gavin Newsom quickly appointed long-time California State Senator Toni Atikins to Kamala Harris’ Senate seat. Harris’ resignation from the Senate before Inauguration Day is emblematic of the Democrats’ intention to have her and Joe Biden’s election corroborated. David Perdue, a Republican who defended his Georgia Senate seat, was present but not sworn in due to the fact Governor Kemp has failed to certify any federal election results. In an effort to protect President Trump by stalling certification, Brian Kemp has completely absolved the state of Georgia of federal representation of any kind (Florida and Pennsylvania, which did not have Senate races this cycle, certified their House races). On All in with Chris Hayes, Stacey Abrams adeptly summarized Kemp’s tenure as governor as “an abject failure in service of the Trump regime”.
The last remaining seat, also in Georgia, will be decided in Kelly Loeffler’s runoff election against Raphael Warnock in late January. At the conclusion of the previous Congress, Loeffler was seen conversing with Elizabeth Warren on multiple occasions--a strange “alliance” between a Republican Senator and the leading candidate to become Biden’s Attorney General. The speculation is Loeffler was looking for a way out. Loeffler had not held office prior to being appointed to the Senate in January 2020. She never intended to be caught in the middle of the biggest political crisis in American history. It is possible that Warren is working on an arrangement with Loeffler, where Loeffler will let her campaign fizzle out and succumb to defeat to Warnock. In exchange, Warren will not direct the Justice Department to reopen the probe into Loeffler’s insider trading scandal. Warren typically plays clean politics, and this move would be unlike her, but a Senate seat in this environment is more valuable than a Pikachu Illustrator Pokemon Card. It looks like the Democrats have learned some tricks from the Republicans after all.
Chuck Schumer, in his first address as Majority Leader, declared the Senate would operate more openly and honestly in a not-so-subtle dig at McConnell’s relentless partisanship and perversion of Senate rules and norms. Schumer closed his remarks by stating his caucus will tee up a COVID-19 economic relief bill that will reinstate the $600 unemployment insurance for at least six months. Conversely, the Republican Senate Minority is completely leaderless. Mitch McConnell has finally felt the effects of public condemnation for handcuffing the party to Trumpism. After failing to pass the HEROES Act, propping up Trump’s absurd attempt to steal the Supreme Court and countless other dishonorable acts, it seems Congressional Republicans have had it with Mitch. But despite all these very tangible failures, McConnell is still Trump’s right hand man--and Trump is still calling the shots for the GOP for the moment.
Mitt Romney, legacy firmly intact, was seen meeting with several Republicans during the winter recess. The Utah Senator is evidently making a concerted effort to position himself as the de facto choice to lead a de-Trumped Repuplican party out of the ashes. Stuart Stevens’ best-selling novel It Was All a Lie makes the case that every Republican that served under Trump will need to be voted out of office to restore the integrity of the GOP. Stevens recently sent out a tweet that characterizes Romney as a lifeline that could save the Republicans decades of rebuilding.
Beyond DC, the nation is in its most chaotic and dangerous form since its inception. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s address, protests and demonstrations flooded the streets on a scale that dwarfs the circumstances that followed George Floyd’s death. Both sides are demonstrating in remarkably close proximity creating a combustible, potentially violent situation. Staying on-brand to make a bad situation worse, Trump has seen that the protests are met with excessive, government-backed force. A new domestic doctrine has emerged: when Trump supporters express their satisfaction with the government, it’s patriotism. When Democrats express their resistance, it's punishable insurgence.
To make sure this double standard is aptly applied, Trump has given Stephen Miller a laughable new title within the Department of Homeland Security: Director of Patriotic Compliance. In a related overstep of governmental procedure, Trump announced he would be reinvoking the Sedition Act, a World War I era piece of legislation designed to curb speech against the United States government. The act was repealed in 1920, and needs Congressional approval to be legally implemented. But in the months leading up to the election, the DHS had been collecting intelligence on progressive journalists. Several of those journalists have been taken into custody and/or have had their works scrapped from the internet. Meanwhile, countless protestors have been beaten, arrested and taken to unknown locations in a harrowing, visceral reflection of a totalitarian state. Attorney General Bill Barr was asked by the press if there was any legality to what Trump and Miller are directing. Barr, like the conclusion of an inconsequential corporate email, cited unprecedented times.
Federal officers are not the only ones on the front lines protecting President Trump’s claims to continued power. In a series of tweets, Trump implied that his supporters have the authority to suppress the protests against him by whatever means they see fit. Trump reignited praise for Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the Missouri couple who drew arms on a BLM protest in July, tweeting “WE NEED MORE MCCLOSKEYS”.
Biden did not call on him directly, but implied that Military Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley must take action to restore the peace. Similarly, Trump stated he would utilize the might of the American military to see that his authority is maintained. Milley, who previously expressed remorse for allowing the military to be used as a prop by the Trump administration, found himself between a rock and constitutionally questionable place. As two Americas march toward each other, one side armed with 250 years of peaceful elections, one side armed with, well, arms of varying calibers, one would naturally look to our $750 billion dollar war-making institution to see where they stand. Milley stated the military will maintain our interests abroad through this crisis, but will not intervene in these domestic affairs. Milley stated that he, and all branches of the military, will take their orders from the “duly elected president beginning January 20th, 2021”; interesting phrasing in a time where the current president is suggesting the election was stolen.
Internationally, autocracies have observed the gigantic void created by America’s domestic chaos and subsequently made advances all over the globe. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a press release that “[warns] countries not to take advantage of the mild political confusion in the United States”. The statement has been met with global ridicule. Vladimir Putin and the Russian Army have begun to make advances into Ukraine with the capital city of Kiev as the obvious trajectory. If Russia were to establish undisputed control of Ukraine, there would be little stopping them from reunifying the Eastern Bloc and establishing governance over almost 300,000,000 people. The swift and orchestrated nature of Putin’s advance on Ukraine has some pundits theorizing Trump notified the Russian dictator of the exact hour he intended to publicly reject the election, which created a window of opportunity for the Kremlin to mobilize. Equally likely is the reverse case: Putin directed Trump to extend his presidency to create a media vacuum, so the Russians could move on Ukraine unopposed by international diplomats.
Saudi Arabia, and its theocratic monarchy, have begun carpet bombing Yemen in the absence of a global superpower to check them. Any eyes not focused on the implosion within the United States are surely looking to North Korea, waiting for the next scoop of international news to fall on this arsenic sundae. The United States has spent the last half-century limiting totalitarian spheres of influence--and in one motion, Donald Trump has undone decades of diplomatic efforts.
As the sun sets over the Potomac River on this cold January day, the United States is experiencing a fraying of its social fabric along partisan lines not seen since the Civil War. Though Trump intends to continue the veneer of normal functionality within the American government, we can hardly expect to see a shred of unity in the near future. In the hours since Trump’s announcement, the country has seen demonstrations turn into riots and riots evolve into pandemonium. Biden supporters, and fans of democracy as it normally functions, have thrown rocks, bottles and other miscellaneous junk at the armored Humvees rolling down the streets of their cities. These actions have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and other excesses that pose a serious threat to the unprotected human body. The extent of punitive measures against the demonstrators is currently unknown; but social media is indicating Stephen Miller’s federal agents are engaging protestors with an unconscionable amount of zeal. The only distinction between some of the footage of today’s instantaneous chaos and footage of the Arab Spring, is the fresh covering of sleet and snow over the East Coast and Ohio Valley from a winter storm.
We are crossing into unexplored political territory. Our most recent election dispute in 2000 adjudicated by the Supreme Court was accepted by the losing party without controversy. Though disappointed by the results, Al Gore did not personally direct the rupturing of the nation in his defense--Donald Trump has. There are unlimited possibilities as to how this scenario will meet its end; but the crux of the issue is deciphering whose presidential authority will be respected come January 20th. If Trump is to remain in office, then our voting procedure has become a meaningless visual exercise. The Trump family could institute a hereditary monarchy if the 2020 election is rejected in this capacity. If Biden is inaugurated and seated as the 46th President, how will he reunify the nation? Is he bound to prosecute Trump and his disciples who have taken up arms against their fellow Americans? After decades of Americans dismissing the possibility of authoritarianism by passively stating “it could never happen here”--it has happened here.
American democracy has been tested by the Civil War, two World Wars, multiple pandemics of global proportions and countless other internal economic and racial strifes, but Donald Trump’s rejection of the 2020 Presidential Election is posing it's greatest threat where the failure of the American experiment is equally as likely as its survival.
This is the concluding episode of Dispatch270. I hope you enjoyed, or at least felt informed by its message. In this nine episode series I have strived to deliver a very plausible story that hopefully highlights the necessity of overwhelming Democratic landslides in 2020 elections to restore our constitutional order. The decision to elect a reality TV star over a former Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady has had a catastrophic impact on the life of the average American.
I did not write this series merely to showcase Trump’s ineptitude and political toxicity as a means of stirring the pot and admonishing the Republicans (although I am a progressive, borderline-socialist, millennial Democrat). I wrote this piece to draw attention to the fact that the country is undeniably straying from the economic, social, scientific and moral authority it claims to possess.
Joe Biden was not my first choice. Or my second. But he is cognizant of the fact he will serve as a bridge to the next generation of political leadership. The country is aching from the division, distrust and death the Donald Trump Show has bestowed upon us. Joe Biden is the man to nurture the wounds created by a president with no empathy or decency. He has the institutional base, national familiarity and to put it simply, the votes among decisive demographics, to take back the presidency.
We cannot survive as a country or certainly not a democracy if political disagreements constitute treason. The tribal warfare needs to end, and the only way forward as a united country.
Let’s not make the same mistake twice. Please vote like your life depends on it. In some cases, it literally might.