When Donald Trump was granted a coat of arms for his Scottish golf courses in 2012 (after a lengthy court battle, of course), he chose as its motto “Numquam concedere”: Never concede. He has not, even as it has become clear that he lost the presidential election by a wide margin.
In the first few weeks after the election, anonymous Republicans and White House officials insisted that Trump’s lack of a concession was no reason for alarm. They assured reporters that Trump knew he’d lost and just needed time to process his defeat—and to put up enough of a fight that he could maintain his image. Perhaps that was true, and perhaps it remains true now, but Trump isn’t acting like someone working through the stages of grief. He’s acting like someone working through a slow-motion (and probably doomed) autogolpe.
Instead of Republican officeholders waiting out Trump’s postelection tantrum, he is waiting them out, and slowly bringing the party around to his side. In this way, Trump is ending his presidency just the way he won it: by correctly recognizing what Republican voters want and giving it to them, and gradually forcing the party’s purported leaders to follow along.
This embrace of the president’s attempt to overturn the results of the election is both shocking and horrifying. As Trump’s fraud claims and legal cases have steadily failed, the arguments he has pursued have become more outlandish and absurd, and they have also become more disturbing. Many Republican voters agree, and in refusing to stand up to him and them, Republican officials have gone from coddling a sore loser to effectively abandoning democracy.