What the nation’s leading columnists, and others, have been thinking for many months, if not years, is now being said out loud. As the bullet train of the presidential election speeds toward election day on November 3, and President Donald Trump increasingly manifests his intention to hang on to power no matter what tre results of the election may be, columnists and others are ringing the alarm: We are at DEFCON 1 and, metaphorically speaking, the Reichstag is burning.
(1) Roger Cohen, “Trump’s Corona Coronation; ‘There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.’ How could the president make his intentions any clearer?” New Ork Times, September 25, 2025.
“There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” That’s President Putin — I’m sorry, I mean President Trump — declining to assure Americans of a peaceful transfer of power after the November election. Does it get any clearer than that?
Trump, in the fog of a pandemic, has opted for chaos. If he can generate enough, he figures, the election results can be disputed, and a post-Ginsburg Supreme Court will hand him victory. “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” he says.
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. The duck is called a Trump power grab.
(2) Dana Milbank, “This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning,” Wahington Post, September 25, 2020 (2:14 p.m. EDT).
Milbank quotes Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Tweny lessons from the Twentieth Century, as follows:
“It’s important not to talk about this as just an election,” Snyder said. “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”
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If not? There won’t be another “normal” election for some time, he said.
The Trenchant Observer