Will Trump be the Orange Ogre who stole New Year’s?
President Donald Trump, looking particularly ocherous, grins as he addresses the crowd during a campaign stop on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2020, in Butler, Pa. The plots and schemes of Trump and his supporters still threaten to steal the election. | Keith Srakocic / AP

From ancient religious figures to poets to today’s self-improvement gurus, observing the New Year has conveyed a forward-thinking sense of optimism and possibility. Of wiping the proverbial slate clean and starting over, leaving the past behind in order to go on to bigger, better things. Buddha extolled followers to believe, “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” T.S. Eliot noted: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” While motivational speaker Tony Robbins proclaims: “New Year = A New Life! Decide today who you will become, what you will give, how you will live.”

Dr. Seuss wrote about “How the Grinch stole Christmas”—but is President Trump the Orange Ogre who will steal New Year’s? Since coming into office, Trump has been the ultimate annual buzzkill, casting a pall and ominous shadow over January’s glad tidings, as if he’s determined to ruin the sensibility of hopefulness that usually accompanies the passage of the old year into the new.

After losing the popular vote by three million ballots, yet winning the election thanks to the undemocratic character of an outdated, 18th-century constitution largely crafted by slave owners and other members of the elite determined to thwart majority rule, in his Jan. 20, 2017, inaugural rant, Trump chose to fume about “American carnage” in order to announce his “America Worst” program. The following day, millions protested the undemocratic elevation of this son of privilege to the presidency.

The country suffered a brief government shutdown in January 2018. As 2019 dawned, President Killjoy presided over another totally unnecessary government shutdown, this time the longest one in U.S. history. In doing so, the self-proclaimed great “dealmaker” enabled the harming of millions of Americans, furloughing up to 800,000 federal employees (Merry Christmas!) and costing about $11 billion.

On Jan. 3, 2020, the Orange Ogre assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, thus ratcheting up the tensions between Tehran and Washington, which Trump had already enflamed by unilaterally abandoning a deal to contain Iran’s nuclear program. Trump’s liquidation of Soleimani put us on a warpath with Iran, which, although war was averted, still started the New Year off in a sour way, compounded, lest we forget, by Trump’s ongoing impeachment proceedings.

As 2021 gets underway, all this may pale in comparison with the possible dirty tricks Trumpsters may have in store for us in Congress and Washington’s streets on Jan. 6, when a joint session of the House and Senate is constitutionally mandated to formally count the Electoral College votes submitted by the states. However, according to Sen. Josh Hawley’s website, the Missouri Republican “will object during the Electoral College certification process on January 6, 2021… to highlight the failure of some states, including notably Pennsylvania, to follow their own election laws as well as the unprecedented interference of Big Tech monopolies in the election. He will call for Congress to launch a full investigation of potential fraud and election irregularities….”

This latest MAGA maneuver may very well flop and fizzle like all of the Trump camp’s other attempts to overturn the election results in the courts appear to have failed so far. Let’s hope so.

But as that world-famous philosopher Yogi Berra pointedly pointed out: “It ain’t over until it’s over.” In Vice President Mike Pence’s capacity as Senate President, Trump’s asskisser-in-chief is designated to preside over the Jan. 6 events, which are generally pro forma but could turn into the stuff of high drama. Hawley may be joined by other Republican senators and many congressmen in his seemingly quixotic quest to upset the Electoral College applecart that our “genius” founders saddled us with. CNN has reported that around 140 GOP congressmen may join Hawley in what critics contend would be an attempted coup.

In a brief Jan.1 appearance on NewsMax, Rep. Louie Gohmert—who filed a (so far) dismissed lawsuit to, as CNN put it, “help throw the election to Trump”—twice brought up the threat of violence in connection to the Jan. 6 events. On Jan. 1, in a tweet flagged by Twitter, nit-tweet Trump claimed: “Massive amounts of evidence will be presented on the 6th. We won, BIG!”

Those who dismiss this as yet another doomed, demented, delusional antic may be right—and let’s hope they are. But might they be whistling past the graveyard? Consider the following:

If, on the one hand, you were facing the prospect of humiliation, losing the power and status that granted you immunity as long as you remained in office, and were confronted with the very real possibility of having to stand trial and if found guilty, imprisoned and fined, plus having to pay back all of the hundreds of millions of dollars you purportedly owe, but on the other hand, you had access to tremendous power for a couple more weeks, what would you do?

How would you react if N.Y.C. District Attorney Cy Vance and N.Y. State Attorney General Letitia James—a straight arrow aimed point blank at you, and (shudders) a Black woman!—were poised to indict you once you departed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Especially if you were a sociopath and/or installed in order to stir the pot? Would you leave quietly for that good night or pursue every desperate gambit available to you in order to maintain your privilege and power—and stay out of jail?

Imagine the willpower showboat Trump has exercised in staying out of the spotlight for most of the past two months or so. What has he been doing behind closed doors? Plotting and scheming? And consider all of the massive fundraising the increasingly desperate Trump has been conducting and collecting—and all of the mischief he could cause with the reportedly quarter-billion dollars-plus donated to his effort to undermine democracy.

On Dec. 19, Trump tweeted: “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” This is the same menacing madman who, during a presidential debate with Joe Biden, instructed his shock troops, the white supremacist Proud Boys, to “standby.” Will MAGA minions run “wild” in the streets? “Wild” in the aisles of Congress?

If the Trumpsters’ attempted coup fails to lift off on Jan. 6 he’ll still have about two weeks left in the world’s most powerful office to wreak mayhem. With his war-making powers and finger on the nuclear button, who knows what this lunatic loser and/or his possible puppeteers might do on his way out the White House door? Trump has already proven himself guilty of negligent homicide, if not outright mass murder, of more than 350,000 of his own fellow citizens whom he swore to protect with his epic, criminal bungling of the COVID crisis. Will Sidney Powell’s threatened Kraken come a-crackin’ before Jan. 20?

The best illumination of Trump’s catastrophic course actually came not from a pundit, politician, activist, analyst, attorney, or journalist, but from a comedian, Jim Carrey, who in only 60 seconds “made sense” of Trump’s seeming senselessness on Bill Maher’s Real Time HBO show.

Of course, the Trump regime will hopefully end with a whimper instead of a bang. But if the past five years have taught us anything, it’s not to expect business-as-usual during increasingly unpredictable times. For months and months, the Orange Ogre has been telling us he won’t peacefully transfer power and leave office. I suggest we listen to him and remain vigilant, keeping our eyes on the ball while Trump remains in power—and not let him ruin yet another New Year for us.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article represents the opinions of its author.


CONTRIBUTOR

Ed Rampell
Ed Rampell

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian/critic and co-organizer of the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the Hollywood Blacklist.

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