*Barring something crazy happening to top the current crazy, Hillary Clinton is going to be America’s next president. Which means Donald Trump is going to lose. What is that going to look like?
When CNN announces Hillary President-elect, I will breathe a sigh of relief. And then I will prepare the popcorn and settle in. Because, with the White House officially and safely out of the grasp of Trump, I will relish watching him implode. That’s a terrible thing to say, I know. But I’m being honest. After the election, I want to see how Trump handles defeat.
To imagine what could happen is to understand that in Trump’s world, winning is everything. Not just winning, as in fair and square. It’s the look of winning. This is a man for whom appearances are everything.
When Trump is losing in the national polls, he tells his supporters he’s really winning. You remind him of what he’s said publicly—-clearly and on video–and he’ll insist he didn’t say it. When there is absolutely no question that it is day, Trump will argue that it is night.
However, unlike during the campaign, when the bullshit he says can sway voters, Trump’s exaggerations and denials won’t be able to change the outcome of that electoral vote.
And he is going to lose it. His mind, that is.
People have made a sport of speculating just how Trump will react the evening of November 8. “He’ll never make it to the actual vote,” a friend of mine said the other day. “He can’t handle it. He’ll take himself out, I’m telling you.”
He won’t do that. Trump is too much of a narcissist to leave here under any circumstances of his own doing. But throughout his campaign, he has talked enough about losing that it is clear the idea frightens him.
At his rallies, Trump has warned supporters that “We’d better win this”. From the podium he has lamented the time and money he has spent running for president. Losing—on the national and world stage, no less—will affect him deeply, as it would anyone.
The difference between Trump and anyone else, however, is that others wouldn’t be so quick to reveal their disappointment, while a hallmark of Trump’s disposition is that he just cannot help himself.
My prediction: after Hillary wins, Trump is going to make the nation wait on the edge of its collective seat in anticipation of his concession speech.
When he finally comes forward, cordially and with a fair amount of dignity (for him, anyway), he will congratulate Clinton on her win. He’ll insist that the country come together, and the media will fall over itself praising him for his calm and somewhat stately demeanor.
And then later on, he’ll start with the tweets.
There will be insinuations of rigging, of voter fraud and other misdeeds that Trump and his team will never bother substantiating, because proving anything won’t be the point. The idea will be to induce doubt about the legitimacy of the election, which his followers will gobble up whole as fact.
I don’t have a crystal ball on this; I don’t think one is required. All you have to do is look at how Trump has handled all of his campaign controversies. There’s the deed and then the double and triple-down.
For those of you who can’t wait until this election is over so that you don’t have to hear any more of the bigotry and stupidity, don’t hold your breath. Trump is not going away. He loves the attention too much. For four years he will take it upon himself to publicly weigh in on practically everything President Hillary does while in office. The rhetoric of Trump and his followers will be the new normal.
Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t comprehend that losing and being a loser are two different things. Even the greatest winners sometimes lose.
Losers, however, are just losers.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]