By now it’s apparent that the president is untethered to reality. If he were to be impeached, a compassionate chief justice might declare him incompetent to stand trial because he lacks the mental capacity to be responsible for his words or acts. But the Republicans who sniffed his musk last week aren’t blissed by the clueless stupor his narcissism affords him. They’re fearful of their constituents.
I was afraid the October surprise was going to be an act of terrorism on U.S. soil. I thought that ISIS, like Putin, calculated that hothead Trump would better serve its interests than cucumber Clinton. I imagined that her response to an attack would be more like George W. Bush’s bullhorn words (“I can hear you! … And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”), and Trump’s more like Gen. Curtis LeMay’s (“[W]e’re going to bomb them back to the Stone Age”). At a moment like that, fury can trump steely; rage, I feared, would carry him to the White House.
Tell me Trump won’t win, my friends are emailing. It’s a slow-motion train wreck, they’re saying, and I feel helpless to stop it. Why is the media letting Trump get away with it? I wouldn’t be so nervous if it weren’t for Gary Johnson; if it weren’t for millennial apathy, for alt-right propaganda, for Paul Ryan’s cowardice; if it weren’t for sexism, racism, infotainment, Idiocracy, plutocracy, Citizens United, voter suppression…. Help!
No wonder Trump is preemptively depicting himself not as a loser, but as the victim of a rigged election. You know he won’t go away quietly. Nor will his base, whose fire he has recklessly stoked. I can’t believe he’d give a gracious concession speech, a call to come together and support the one president our nation has. He’s more likely to summon a retributive movement – a fifth column of Trumpistas.
This year is on track to be the world’s hottest on record, exceeding the previous hottest year, 2015, which exceeded the previous hottest year, 2014. For the news media, this campaign offers a teachable moment. If you want to tell the most important story in human history, if you believe that rousing your audience to civic action is part of journalism’s job, you might want to cover the 2016 campaign against the backdrop of brutal climate change, and to frame this election as a choice whose consequences could be irreversibly damaging for the rest of human history.