MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 8: Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally ahead of the New Hampshire Primary at the Manchester Verizon Center in Manchester, New Hampshire on February 8, 2016. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/MediaPunch/IPX

The 2020 presidential election will decide either the life or death of America. — John Gartner

I have a list of things I fear — death by fire, a decline into dementia, Pop-Tarts — but I have never feared Donald Trump or his goose-stepping minions. I loathe and despise them, and I fear for the people whom their policies actively hurt (most all of us, really), but I don’t fear them. Neither should you.

However, I do feel a deep apprehension for what Trump might do if and when he loses re-election in November. We all think, hope, pray and anticipate him getting his ass dragged around the block by Biden in November, but there’s a question: what will Trump do in the event he loses?

Psychologist and psychotherapist John Gartner, a specialist in borderline personality disorders, has those same worries. And he feels Trump will go out swinging.

Trump’s bagman Michael Cohen said in Congressional testimony in February 2019:

Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.

I’m not worried about him not leaving the White House, as some do. It doesn’t matter if he acknowledges the loss or not.

If he loses in November, his presidency ends at noon on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, no matter what he and his idiot brownshirts say or do. I like to think that, given Trump’s penchant for belligerent, bullying behavior towards his “inferiors,” there will be plenty of Secret Service agents who are waiting for 12:01 pm on January 20 to put him on the ground and arrest him for trespassing. (Or just beat his flabby ass and throw him out of the front door. I’m good either way.)

Former US Attorney Barbara McQuade agrees, writing for The Atlantic: “[T]he newly minted president would possess … presidential powers. If necessary, [Biden] could direct federal agents to forcibly remove Trump from the White House. Now a private citizen, Trump would no longer be immune from criminal prosecution, and could be arrested and charged with trespassing in the White House. While even former presidents enjoy Secret Service protection, agents presumably would not follow an illegal order to protect one from removal from office.” She doesn’t say anything about the Secret Service beating the brakes off him in the East Room, but I think privately she might get a chuckle out of the idea.

Nor can he just cancel the election. If he does something insane to disrupt the election to the point where it cannot be held, then on 12:01 pm of January 20, 2021, Nancy Pelosi becomes president. Boy, would he hate that…

What Gartner fears is the motivation for vengeance an infuriated Trump would feel in the days and weeks after the November election, should he lose it. You can forget about W’s being pried off keyboards. Trump is psychologically capable of far worse than that.

Since Trump has taken office, he has performed not one action that was taken on behalf of the American people. Not one. He started by lying about the size of the crowd during his inauguration and attacking the media over its inauguration coverage, and in the last several days has recommended that Americans inject themselves with disinfectants to battle the COVID-19 virus, and said he won’t provide federal aid to states who have “sanctuary cities” for immigrants. We don’t even need to go through the list of his criminal and malicious actions in the federal response to the virus alone. We’d be here all day.

Gartner asks a powerful question:

[T]o merely document the Trump regime’s deadly failures in response to the coronavirus pandemic is to ignore the most important question: What were Trump and his advisers’ underlying motivations?

Gartner isn’t the only one asking this question. He cites one of my favorite media critics, Eric Boehlert, who recently asked:

Maybe Trump’s vengeful. Maybe he wants to wreck the economy to create investment opportunities? He’s under the thumb of a foreign entity? He wants to cause panic and cancel the November elections? He’s a fatalist? Who knows. And honestly, the specific “why” isn’t what matters now. What matters is asking the difficult questions and pondering what the Trump presidency is truly about, no matter what lurks in the shadows. … Now the press needs to shift some of its focus and ask the truly alarming questions about Trump and his motives. Because we still don’t know why he essentially ordered the federal government to stand down for the virus invasion.

Gartner’s answer is nothing new. He says Trump is a malignant narcissist. Google the term and you’ll find hundreds of articles, stories and blog posts speculating and asserting the same thing. But Gartner takes it further. What will a malignant narcissist like Trump do when he has the thing ne wants more than anything else — in his case, the presidency — taken away from him?

Gartner’s answer is simple: Revenge.

Trump is a stunted, malevolent, deeply cruel creature. Sadism and violence are at the heart of his being. The author of the Salon article this post is based on, Chauncey DeVega, writes that in Gartner’s view, “Trump is an abuser locked into a deeply dysfunctional relationship with the American people and that, like other sadists, Trump enjoys causing harm and suffering.”

Of course this is true. And Trump was quick to begin using the levers of government, however ham-handedly, to begin rewarding his associates — he has no friends — and hurting his enemies. DeVega writes:

Ultimately, Gartner concludes that Donald Trump is engaging in “democidal behavior” and cautions that the tens of thousands of dead (so far) from the coronavirus pandemic are not simply collateral damage from Trump’s policies, but rather the logical outcome of Trump’s apparent mental pathologies and the poor decisions that flow from them.

The Trump administration’s response to the pandemic — one of the worst crises faced by an American president since the Civil War — is emblematic of Trump’s incompetence, his malevolence, and his deep cruelty. He isn’t just handling the response poorly or making one mistake after another. He is deliverately sabotaging the federal and the state governments’ abilities to respond to the crisis.

Add to this toxic mix the fact (according to Gartner) that Trump is a sexual sadist. This is scary enough when we’re watching psychopathic killers on shows like Criminal Minds or Mindhunter, but to have a sexual sadist in the Oval Office is a wholly different order of threat. Trump gets gratification — sexual gratification — from hurting people. And as president during a time of pandemic, he can hurt a lot of people. He’s doing so deliberately, because it makes him feel powerful, and, frankly, because he gets pleasure from it. Gartner says:

Professor of psychiatry and psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg called that phenomenon “omnipotent destructiveness.” The bullying, the violence, the destruction, frightening people, humiliating people, getting revenge and the like — such behavior is what Donald Trump has done his whole life. It is who Donald Trump really is. Unfortunately, too many people are still in denial of that fact.

Gartner takes it further:

We are being abused by him. We know that Trump is lying. We know that he’s doing nothing to help us. We feel helpless to do anything to stop him. It is causing collective mental despair. In this way Donald Trump is inducing feelings of rage and outrage — and he keeps doing it. It is not that all Americans are suckers or dupes, it is that Trump is a master at such cruel and manipulative behavior. Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing to the physical and emotional health of the American people.

Gartner then takes it further than even I had speculated. Trump, he writes, is a “democidal maniac.” Democide, as the link above shows, is “murder by government.” Trump will use his power as the American president to kill thousands — many thousands — of Americans. He is already doing it, having helped kill 63,861 Americans from COVID-19 as I write this. The numbers will be higher by the time you read this.

There is no mystery behind Trump’s affection for dictators and democidal maniacs like Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and others, and his reciprocal hatred of democratic leaders like Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau. Gartner notes: “If you look at human history there is one trait that all malignant narcissistic leaders have in common: They kill mass numbers of their own people. Why would Donald Trump be any different?”

Trump intends to go down in history alongside “leaders” such as Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, and Adolf Hitler. This is not exaggeration. Gartner observes: “Malignant narcissists like Donald Trump view other human beings as kindling wood to be burned for their own personal enrichment and enlargement and expansion.”

Gartner says that the specific actions Trump will take as his presidency winds to a close are not predictable, but they can be analogized to the actions taken by a domestic abuser. What does a man who has spent years raping, beating and abusing his wife do when she finally takes the initiative and begins to leave him?

She has her keys in hand and is opening the door of the house or apartment to finally leave. What happens? The democidal maniac Donald Trump will attack us, badly. Make no mistake. Donald Trump is going to find a way to attack and cause great harm to the American people if he believes that he will lose the 2020 election.

We need to be ready for anything.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. I would say he’s already doing it. He would have covert operatives watching Biden & his family looking for anything. It’s also not unreasonable to think listening devices are installed wherever his perceived enemies are. As long as his directives don’t come back to him, it will be game on. Nothing would be off the table.

  2. There is the possibility that once its official that Trumps lost the election, the Combatant General – led interim government would be put in place; perhaps even prior. If you don’t already know about this measure, in a profound turn around from ’60’s paranoia concerning our military, said military tried to get Congress to do something about the potential for a take-down of the D.C. area and consequent inability of the government to function. But with the Neo-Cons ascendant, there was no political will to take such rational actions such as securing, say, a method for remote voting for Congress. Check out Newsweek’s March 18th issue for the story on this. Could such an action take place before November? I think possibly.

  3. My wife and I are finally getting around to watching the Game of Thrones series (yes, I know, more than a bit behind the curve…). In watching Joffrey Lannister progress from just a child to becoming king, he and Trump show some very dark similarities. Joffrey would literally stop at nothing to get what he wanted, no matter the level of mayhem or even murder. Short of of actual murder, it doesn’t appear Trump has a line he won’t cross.

    • Really? No Line? Remember, during the 2016 campaign, how he boasted he could murder somebody in broad daylight on 5th Avenue and it would not affect his support?

  4. It would be a gross error to focus only on what will happen on January 20, 2021. I would suggest the author misses the mark. The real question is, what will Trump and his fanatical supporters do during the preceding 78 day period after the November 3 election? One of his support groups, for example, are the 3%ers, those who believe, based on the idea that only 3% of Americans fought in the American Revolution and therefore determined the direction of the U.S.A., they too have the same right now. And right now, that effectively means 11 million armed people have the right, in their view, to decide the political fate of America. As is clearly shown at Trump’s rallies and underlined by many recent events, there are millions of well-armed Americans, as well as a lot of appointed and elected government officials, military officers and personnel, judicial and law enforcement personnel, church leaders of millions of fanatical right-wing fundamentalist religious sects, hundreds of well-armed far right groupings like the Nazis, KKK, Aryan Nations, etc., etc. who will remain under Trump’s direction during that time period, all of whom will remain under his direction and obey his commands, all while he is still legally commander of the armed forces and federal government administration. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  5. My biggest concern is that Donald has already telegraphed his plan. He said that Obama would start a war to win a second term. For Donald that would almost certainly mean bigger, better, more attention-grabbing war.

    He’s already rattling his saber at China. A nuclear war would make him the first, the biggest, the badest, with the best TV rating in history. It would also punish his enemies, in China, who’s been insulting him, and here in America, by the resulting Chinese retaliation.

    His friends in Russia, North Korea, and all over the world would be delighted. For Donny its all up-side. We need to begin locking down the football and all other dangerous objects in his grasp.

  6. Mary is so right. Take the really dangerous toys away from his grasp. We can only hope if he really goes off the rails, and attempts anything so stupid, there are still enough sane, heroic, generals to shut him down, until the guys in the white coats can contain him.


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