More than a week after losing the presidential election to Joe Biden, Donald Trump continues to proclaim victory and stall the transition. Some White House advisers profess (“privately”) to be nudging Trump toward a concession—so far with no success. It’s time to think differently about how to ease the president into a new reality.
In the movie Good Bye, Lenin!, a woman in communist East Berlin falls into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She awakens many months later, unaware of the world-changing events that have taken place. Doctors fear that the slightest shock could kill her. Because the woman had been an ardent party member, her teenage son sets out to create the illusion—for her—that the wall is intact and everything is how it was. He dresses the way East Germans used to dress. He stocks his mother’s kitchen with East German food. He cobbles together fake news programs out of old footage on state-run TV. He comes up with an explanation for the “Coca-Cola” billboard his mother sees one day from her window.
Inhabiting the lie that he actually won the election, Trump is ripe for similar treatment. It might be simplest for everyone if he found refuge in a safe space where he can indulge his illusions while the rest of us get on with our business.
Trump is destined to receive the Secret Service protection accorded to every former chief executive, and he still gets to be called “Mr. President”—a good start when it comes to creating the right ambience. On the next trip to Bedminster or Mar-a-Lago, he should be induced by some pretext to stay put. (Antifa caravan approaching Washington?) His minders can give him an updated version of that 2016 electoral map he likes so much, with its swaths of red. A flick of the Sharpie would excise Philadelphia, Detroit, and Atlanta, flipping three states into his column. A gratifying extra touch—Greenland, given three electoral votes, also shown in red.