Donald and The Pros and Cons of Wickedness

Wickedness can bring to certain men a resilience and an ability to survive into old age, as bitter and destructive as ever. It has certainly been true of Donald. Donald achieved the greatest heights of his power in his 70s, after decades of cheating, deceit and abuse of others.

But there is a flipside to the wickedness that imparts a type of strength to certain men: The longer one stays alive and active as a malevolent force, the greater is the possibility that one will meet justice. This is simply because the amount of time available to victims and their allies to pursue justice is extended.

Thus, the great challenge that faces every sociopath is to feed the insatiable need for power and abuse, but to not do so in such a public way as to make oneself vulnerable to accountability. As we have seen with Donald, these two impulses can often find themselves at odds. Donald’s appetite for adulation and for cruelty caused him to seek the presidency of the United States. And after a couple of false starts, in 2016: success! Well, not so fast. The problem is that, as President of the US, Donald became the most visible person in the world. Inevitably, this prominence made him a greater target for justice and accountability, not to mention for retribution and revenge.

What authoritarian leaders learn is that there is only one way to commit evil on a mass scale and avoid accountability: You must maintain total power over a populace… indefinitely. This is difficult to do because the evil deeds make you unpopular with the populace. In the case of Donald, he never had a higher than 50% approval rating and was the least popular president in recent American history. For Donald to maintain power, democratic elections needed to be abandoned or thwarted or interfered with.

The way that he conjured to do this turned out to be his demise. Early in 2020, Donald started to chirp (and Tweet) about the (non-existent) problems with mail-in ballots. But he sensed he needed something more. When COVID-19 hit the states, Donald was rattled. The timing was not good, as this was an election year. But ever the overachieving weasel, he thought he’d conjured a way to turn the plague to his advantage. His calculus was the following:

— Don’t admit the severity of the pandemic because, as president, he could receive the blame for its spread. Obviously, this would hurt his chances of reelection.

— Allow the pandemic to prolong into November through inaction and wacky antics, always inserting confusion and doubt into the discourse around the virus. Come November 4, his cult member followers would risk their lives to vote for him, while Biden supporters would avoid voting in person out of safety concerns and their use of mail-in ballots could be contested, their votes disqualified.

Donald’s plan backfired. By “throwing” the pandemic, the way a boxer throws a fight, he lost enough people who otherwise would have voted for him and JB bounded to victory. The bogus lawsuits that the hapless Rudy Giuliani brought to court to contest the mail-in ballots and other ballots which contributed to Biden’s victory got bounced out of court like so many beach balls. Donald is a very shallow and intellectually uncurious person. He is, however, shrewd and cunning. Generally, these latter qualities have served him and his debased needs well. However, his calculus regarding the COVID-19 pandemic failed him.

When Sports Illustrated reporter Rick Riley finished playing a round of golf with the would-be tyrant, he asked Donald why he cheated so aggressively throughout the game. His answer: “I cheat on my wives. I cheat on my taxes. You don’t think I’m going to cheat at golf?!” Donald could’ve maintained that sleazy trifecta while sipping Diet Coke odiously in Mar-a-Lago until his final days. Alas, that is no longer a certainty. Donald is in danger of being exposed as one of the great tax cheats in US history, as the full force of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York grinds through all of the cleverly fudged paperwork of Trump enterprises. When he lost the election, he lost his immunity.

Donald’s little four-year sojourn as President of the US looks to have roused into righteous action many of the people and institutions he wronged throughout his life: rape victims, contractors and governments he owes money and people he defamed. At the minimum, Donald will be fighting nasty and debilitating legal battles for the rest of his life… And there is a chance he will spend his final days in a cell, odiously sipping orange drink from a plastic container with a foil cover, rather than his beloved Diet Coke.

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Dan Hanrahan

Dan Hanrahan

Writer, translator, actor, musician.