A couple miles from my house, the neighborhood of East Sacramento is locally renowned for its extraordinary holiday light displays. Each year, people come from miles around to drive or walk down its streets in a cooperative spirit of celebration. This year those displays seem all the more poignant, with an entire neighborhood collectively making something beautiful despite the strictures of isolation.
My wife and son and I drove through this neighborhood on Friday evening. It was, as it is every year, a riot of light and colorful imagery. Except this year, on one street, while every other house was decorated, one single house was defiantly unlit. Instead of holiday lights, it had two enormous Trump signs, each a full story high and some 10 feet wide.
There was something remarkably discordant about the image. Not about the political signs per se, but about their being displayed in lieu of lights, in lieu of community good cheer. The vast Trump lettering seemed to say so much more than just “Trump.” It seemed to be a deliberate effort to antagonize, to set off the owners as separate from, and meaner than, all those around them.
Which, now that I think about it, is how this whole period strikes me. Back in October, during the scramble to get Amy Coney Barrett installed on the Supreme Court, Trump basically declared that he had secured a conservative supermajority on the court that would be at his beck and call should he need an assist post-election. In the end, however, it turned out that even Trump’s justices didn’t want to play ball when the opportunity arose—despite the fact that a shocking number of Republican elected officials, including 18 state attorneys general and more than 60 percent of Republicans in Congress, signed on to Texas’s shameful effort to use the courts to trigger a coup.
On Friday, all nine justices supported tossing out the Lone Star State’s efforts to overturn the election in four key swing states. The three nominated by Trump—Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch—were among the seven justices who said Texas didn’t have standing to bring the case in the first place. More generally, conservative, Federalist Society judges from coast to coast have in these past weeks resoundingly rejected Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and the country’s elite, conservative-pedigreed law firms have also avoided going to bat for Trump.
The rulings by so many judges, up to and including the Supreme Court, should have put a stop to the madness of Trump’s seditionist antics. But of course they haven’t; and even as the Electoral College prepared to confirm Biden’s win, Trump was still trying to push ever-more-insane ways to overturn the will of the people.
On Saturday, Trump’s armed supporters massed in cities across the country. Not surprisingly, counterprotesters quickly converged on these gatherings. Four people were injured in stabbings in D.C., and one person was shot in Olympia, Wash. In Sacramento, Proud Boys (with some help from anti-vaxxers) and antifa activists clashed yet again, as they have done each weekend since the election. All this came after Republican election officials in Georgia and Arizona reported that they were receiving a steady stream of death threats from Trump-supporting fanatics.
Trump’s response: To the delight of his amassed fans on the streets below, he took a Marine One helicopter joy ride over the protests in D.C. Meanwhile, through the weekend there was not a word from the White House or the president condemning the violence committed by Trump’s “Stop the Steal” crew. In fact, his Twitter feed in the run-up to Monday’s Electoral College vote was clearly aimed at amping up the tensions rather than moving any closer to conceding defeat.
All weekend long, Trump slammed the Supreme Court, denounced his own attorney general—whom he would fire on Monday—and vowed that he was now gearing up for a post-courtroom struggle. One Trump tweet declared, “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” Elsewhere, Trump sycophants in Congress pledged to challenge the Electoral College process in early January. GOP party leaders in Texas and elsewhere have even begun talking of seceding unless Trump remains president.
And yet, despite the Noise, Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results have run aground. His ongoing refusal to acknowledge the obvious is at this point an absurdity, an embarrassment. It brings to mind Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch. For, as the Supreme Court unanimously acknowledged, substituting politician for pet, come January Trump’s presidency “is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to see its maker! This is a late parrot! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushin’ up the daisies! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! this is an ex-parrot!”
Anyone who is still sticking with Trump after this unanimous rejection of his fantasy claims by the Supreme Court, after all 50 states certified their results as being accurate, after Chris Krebs and other top election security officials declared the election was secure, after Attorney General Barr’s investigators failed to come up with evidence of fraud… well, at this point they’re as delusional—though not nearly as funny or as harmless—as the pet shop owner in the sketch who keeps waiting for the parrot to resurrect itself.