I can’t believe that I am writing about this again. I warned you that it was going to happen and it has happened.
As you may recall, Trump never conceded the 2020 election to Biden, so in his mind he is still the president.
Deep, cleansing breath.
It doesn’t matter that Biden received more votes. It doesn’t matter that Biden won the electoral college. It doesn’t matter that Biden was inaugurated in a ceremony that was seen around the world.
In Trump’s mind, you only lose if you concede so as long as he refuses to concede the election, he is still the president. He has moved all of the trappings of the office of the president to his private club at Mar-a-Lago.
To further this illusion, no one is allowed to refer to him as the former president. They may only refer to him as the 45th President of the United States of America.
You know, as if he were still the president and there was no 46th president?
Trump has “adopted” the number 45 as his brand. His shirts are monogrammed 45 instead of his initials. His website is 45Office.com (previous presidents use their names in their website URLs). The URL for his PAC, Save America, is Save America45.com.
Trump’s tweets that he sent while in office are archived at @WhiteHouse45. His predecessor has archived his tweets sent while in office at @ObamaWhiteHouse, using his name instead of his number, 44.
Trump has been using a knockoff of the presidential seal on his stationery. It is illegal to use the presidential seal as a private citizen, but Trump has altered it enough that he will probably get away with it. It is clearly recognizable as the presidential seal if you just glance at it. It’s only if you take a closer look that you realize that it is not the presidential seal.
Only Trump would do this. No one else in their right mind would even think about using a knockoff of the presidential seal on their private stationery.
But in his mind, he is still the president so it is okay.
A photograph of Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago has been posted online by none other than Stephen Miller. You remember him. Creator of the Muslim ban and the Zero Tolerance family separation policy at the border? Denier of Green Cards to any immigrants who might use public assistance? Looks like a creature that only comes out after sundown?
When I saw the photo of Trump’s office, I nearly spit out my coffee. He has literally recreated the Oval Office at Mar-a-Lago. Seriously. Click the link and see for yourself.
He sits at a (smaller) replica of the Resolute desk. He has family photos lined up behind him. While most presidents include a small sculpture of cultural or political significance, Trump has a statuette of himself.
Why are we not surprised?
On the walls behind him, instead of historical paintings he has photos of Air Force One flying over the White House and Marine One flying by Mount Rushmore.
I looked closely at that last one half expecting to see a crude drawing of himself made with a Sharpie superimposed on Mount Rushmore. Thankfully there is not enough space on the rock for another sculpture because Trump desperately wants his face up there with the other presidents.
Of course he has to brag about his accomplishments so he has a piece of the border wall placed prominently on his desk. And a rack of all the challenge coins that he handed out as president.
Too bad he couldn’t figure out a way to display the massive tax cut he enacted because that and the border wall are the only things that he accomplished in four years as president.
All joking aside, this illusion that Trump is still the president is very, very dangerous. Remember, he heads up a cult. The members of that cult, his base, do exactly as he says, believe what he tells them to believe and willingly share in all of his delusions.
In their minds, Biden is an “illegitimate” president. Trump is the real president. He tells them so. He displays it with his fake seals and fake Oval Office.
Even the Republican Party is contributing to the illusion that Trump is still president. Presidents are considered the heads of their parties while they are in office. When they leave office, they become more of a senior advisor.
Trump refuses to give up his position as head of the Republican Party and the party has acquiesced. Office seekers must visit Trump and kiss the ring to earn his endorsement. Members of Congress who voted to impeach or convict him have been censured by their state parties and are being challenged in their primaries by candidates chosen by Trump.
But the biggest danger that Trump poses to the country is that he has set up a shadow presidency. I talked about this after the election. My fear then was that he would do exactly what he is doing now. And he is being enabled by the GOP. They are splitting the country, setting us against one another.
Setting us up for a possible civil war. Trump may no longer have command of the military, but he retains command of his supporters who have already demonstrated that they are willing to commit violence and even murder if Trump tells them to.
That was my fear then and it is my fear now.