top of page

Watching Trump Tumble: An Insider’s Diary of Election Week

By Alan Resnick

The Matchup: Biden v. Trump
The Matchup: Biden v. Trump

Although I’d thought about it many times, I’ve never kept a journal or a diary until this past week. There was just something about this election that felt different than any I remembered. The combination of nearly 250,000 Americans dead from an ongoing pandemic, seeing people lined up in their cars at food banks because they couldn’t afford to feed their families, a thwarted kidnap attempt on Michigan’s governor, and a president who I believe has no interest in the job other than lining his own pocket, not to mention on a personal level not being able to go to a restaurant or movie in almost eight months, left me with the feeling that, whatever the results, the outcome of this election would be a momentous one.


So I decided to give it a try. The experience and the end result left me simultaneously hopeful and fearful for the future. It also left me with an unexpected man crush. More about that later.


It’s the day before the election, and like millions of Americans, these past few weeks leading up to the presidential election have been an emotional roller coaster for me, and I’m not much for amusement rides. Living in a swing state like Michigan makes the ride even more tumultuous although recent polls have consistently reported Joe Biden’s lead to be greater than the statistical margin of error.

I decided that a trip to Costco would help to calm my nerves. I’m not sure if my motivation was simply to get out of the house, fear of violence depending on the election outcome, impending shortages of goods as the coronavirus races through the nation, or a combination of all three, but it seemed wise to purchase toilet paper, canned goods and dried pasta. The store was busy but manageable. While hunting items on my list, I couldn’t help but notice that many shoppers’ carts were filled to the brim with staples like paper goods and bottled water. It appears that others share my apprehension.

Trump Target: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Trump Target: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

I watched the local news while having lunch, and was disturbed by a trio of stories. The first involved the police removing two poll challengers from Detroit’s largest absentee ballot processing location, both escorted out due to mask and nuisance violations. A man possessed valid credentials for being a poll watcher, but wore a mask that looked like something straight out of a Friday the 13th movie. He repeatedly kept shouting that the process was “crooked.” And a 61-year-old woman who lived outside of the city refused to pull her mask up over her nose and caused a commotion near a table where ballots were being tabulated.

The second story showed a retail chain store in Westland, a nearby suburb, being boarded up in anticipation of violence on Election Day or thereafter. And the third story shared the results from a Gallup poll conducted in September, which found that only 59% of respondents were either “very or at least somewhat confident” that the votes in the presidential election will be accurately cast and counted nationwide. This confidence level was 70% just two years ago. Perhaps I’m naïve, but this subject never entered my thoughts until this year and, even, now, I’m still one of the 59%.

I committed to avoiding TV news for the rest of the day, and decided to scroll through a newspaper and catch up on local events. I immediately spotted a story about a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, the town where Trump was to complete his campaign this evening, discovering that “TRUMP” and “MAGA” had been spray painted in red on multiple headstones. No determination had been made if this was simple vandalism or an anti-Semitic act. I had exceeded the daily recommended allowance of news consumption, so my wife and I watched The Voice and a Law & Order rerun.


I slept poorly Monday night, getting out of bed at 4:30 a.m. on Election Day. It’s unclear if that was because our comforter was being cleaned and the backup is heavier and warmer or if I was anxious about the fate of our democracy. We watched Morning Joe on MSNBC, which is our daily fare. They showed the final television advertisement from the Lincoln Project, the group of former Republicans who’ve joined forces in an attempt to help prevent Trump from being reelected. In contrast to the merciless attack ads they typically produce, this one was quiet and somber. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the ad emphasizes that today represents “one last push to get the train back on the tracks,” and “one day where the whole world is watching, like a parent in the stands peeking through their fingers.” I found it both haunting and beautiful, truly terrifying in its own way. It left me with tears in my eyes.

Counting ballots in Detroit
Counting ballots in Detroit

We had breakfast and watched the local news, which showed pictures of polling locations from around metropolitan Detroit. People were lined up wearing masks and socially distancing. No reports of anything crazy. But it was only 7:30 a.m. and the day was still young.

I checked email and found one from a former colleague and Trump supporter who has put me on his distribution list. His email stated that he and his wife “did our best to influence the electing (sic) by voting. Will we be investigated by Mueller?” I thought about responding and indicating that this was a feeble attempt at humor. I also thought about writing something slightly more snarky and aggressive, but decided that the best course of action was to simply let it pass.

I then checked my Facebook feed to see what my friends were up to on Election Day. A few posted photos of their “go-to” snacks and libations to help them get through today. Oreo Thins and M&M’s appeared to be neck and neck as the junk food of choice, but someone posted a picture of himself holding a fifth of Jim Beam, so this race could tighten up quite a bit.

I watched the local news while having lunch, and learned that the local chapter of the NAACP had set up a voter intimidation hotline. The need for such a hotline is appalling, but it makes sense given the current climate. And our weatherperson reported that there were no efforts at voter intimidation at his local polling place. He failed to mention that he lives in a lily-white Republican enclave.

After dinner, my wife and I settled in on the couch to watch the election results. We started with the Morning Joe crew on the Peacock streaming service, but gave up after about 20 minutes because the feed kept buffering. We switched to MSNBC, where the main desk was being anchored by Nicole Wallace, Rachel Maddow, and Joy Reid. The program also had Steve Kornacki, MSNBC’s national political correspondent and chief number-cruncher. He is the wizard of the so-called Big Board, a giant touch screen election board, slicing and dicing results as they came in. He was breaking things down at a frenetic pace, his flying fingers flipping through one screen after another. I’m guessing he will go into hibernation after this election has been decided and will not reawaken until October, 2022.

Brian Williams was also on hand. His role was to deliver results once a projection had been made. One of the three anchors would announce “We have a projection,” some rousing introductory music would play over a graphic of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City being bathed in red, white, and blue lights, results would be displayed, and Williams would then read what was being shown on the screen. We shut this off as soon as they teased with “The polls have just closed in Ohio and we have a projection.” They handed it off to Williams who announced in stentorian tones: “It’s too early to call.” Ya think? That was enough for us, so we flipped over to the fourth episode of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix.

We curled up in bed about 9:45 p.m. and went back to MSNBC. The results were depressing. None of the states where a winner had been projected had been flipped; Trump won the states he had won in 2016 and Biden won the states that Hillary Clinton had won. Results were troubling in the battleground states; Biden was either just slightly ahead or slightly behind. The Senate races were not turning out as predicted. Although Democrat John Hickenlooper was projected to be the winner against incumbent Republican Cory Gardner in Colorado, both Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina looked like they were on their way to re-election.

Michigan’s senatorial contenders John James and incumbent Senator Gary Peters
Michigan’s senatorial contenders John James and incumbent Senator Gary Peters

Even more distressing to a Michigander like me were the early results from our U.S. senatorial race. John James was leading the incumbent, Democrat Gary Peters, by a significant percentage, even though only 15% of the returns had been counted. James must be a fan of the old Seinfeld show, because his campaign is about absolutely nothing. This morning I saw what seemed to be a new television ad for James. It had beautiful shots of the fall colors and, while the camera panned over the scenery, the narrator spoke: ‘Michigan. John James is Michigan.” I still have no idea what he stands for, but I have come to agree with his wife’s assessment in an earlier ad that he has a big smile.

It didn’t look like the outcome of the presidential race or our senatorial race would be decided today, but I was experiencing a feeling of impending doom. I tried to take solace in the forecasts of possible unrest and violence across the country being overblown, although it was reported that the National Guard was on alert in Chicago and Philadelphia. Things were not going as I had hoped.


I slept poorly again, getting out of bed at 3:45 a.m. I opened my iPad and saw an alert from the Wall Street Journal indicating that they had called the state of Arizona for Biden. Surprisingly, Fox News had made the same call. This was the first state that either candidate had flipped from 2016, and it opened up more pathways to 270 electoral votes for Biden. This was a nice way to start another long day.

But my next alert was from the Washington Post, reporting that at 2:20 a.m., Trump proclaimed victory in front of about 150 cheering supporters in the White House. The President also took this opportunity to attack the integrity of the nation’s election system, threatening to take his case to the Supreme Court. Even though there were millions of votes left to be counted, Trump had seen enough. No news agency, network or cable channel had called the results in swing states like Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, but Trump felt that he was either close enough to be leading or far enough ahead to deem the election over. In other words, “I like the results right now, it’s done.” It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to claim victory when you’re behind in the electoral vote, but Trump’s never been lacking in shamelessness.

MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki
MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki

I poured a cup of coffee and turned on MSNBC. The evening anchor crew had been replaced, but there was my main man, Steve Kornacki, hair disheveled and clothes rumpled, madly flipping from screen to screen. Amazingly, his fingers had not become bloody stumps. I’d encourage Red Bull or some other energy drink to reach out to the man and offer him an endorsement deal.

Kornacki’s maniacal screen manipulations demonstrated a clear and consistent point: many states that were still deemed “too close to call” had yet to tabulate early mail-in or walk-in ballots from major metropolitan areas, like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. And these cities were expected to yield huge numbers of Democratic votes for Joe Biden.

This was the red or blue “mirage” that many analysts and pundits had cautioned about yesterday evening. The hypothesis was that early results would heavily be influenced by the type of votes that were tabulated first. States which tabulated early ballots first were likely to show that Biden was ahead, as more Democrats were expected to be early voters. Conversely, states that tabulated same-day votes ahead of early votes were likely to show Trump in the lead, as more Republicans were expected to vote on Election Day. Someone in the White House had apparently led them to believe that early voting was fraudulent.

After promising for 45 minutes that Milwaukee would be reported any minute, Kornacki went to his magic screen, swiped, and, voilà – Biden went from 100,000 votes behind to surging ahead. A little while later, the same thing happened as early votes from Detroit began to be reported. And our senatorial race began to tighten significantly. Things were beginning to look more promising. However, MSNBC was still not yet ready to declare Biden the victor in Arizona.

I got another cup of coffee as one show ended and Morning Joe began. Mika, Joe and their revolving cast of contributors discussed the red and blue mirage and opined that they would rather be in Biden’s position right now than in Trump’s. They also observed that Trump’s desire to stop tabulating ballots and premature declaration of victory effectively suppressed a large percentage of the black vote, given the large percentage of blacks in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. What a cynical view, one which I agreed with completely.

I ran a few errands after breakfast. Some of my neighbors’ campaign signs have been taken down and their lawns replaced with leaves that need to be raked.

I made a sandwich, sat down to eat lunch, and turned on the local news. I learned that no one had yet called the state of Michigan for either candidate, and that the Michigan Secretary of State announced that there were at least another 100,000 ballots to be tabulated.

NBC’s Lester Holt
NBC’s Lester Holt

I got suckered in by the red mirage and let out an audible gasp when a graphic appeared showing Biden trailing Trump by almost nine percentage points in Pennsylvania. But then NBC’s Lester Holt called on a reporter from Philadelphia, who indicated that she had been informed that there were still millions of uncounted ballots across the state.

Holt then went to a reporter in Georgia. She had been told by a local official that there were still approximately 200,000 ballots to be counted in Georgia, most of them from Fulton and DeKalb counties, both considered strongly Democratic. It was very possible that Biden could move ahead when these ballots were counted, much like what happened in Milwaukee yesterday.

A relatively uneventful day began to heat up in the afternoon. The Associated Press projected Joe Biden as the winner of Wisconsin. This projection was potentially a huge development, because it flipped Wisconsin from red to blue and gave Biden more paths to the magic number of 270. However, the Trump campaign had already vowed to challenge the results, as Wisconsin law permits a candidate to request a recount if the margin of victory is less than one percent (which it appears likely to be).

The Trump campaign also announced it had filed a lawsuit in Michigan, seeking to halt the counting of ballots until it was given “meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process.” Soon after, police had to be called to the largest ballot counting facility in Detroit after election officials informed dozens of challengers that they could not enter the counting room; both parties had already surpassed the law-mandated maximum of 134 challengers. At least there were kernels of good news in this disturbing incident: no one was arrested or hurt, and both Republican and Democratic challengers were denied entry.

Joe Biden held a press conference. Kamala Harris was standing off to the side, wearing a maroon mask that matched her pantsuit. Choosing his words carefully, Biden stated that, while he was not proclaiming victory, he was extremely confident that after the all the votes were tabulated, he and Harris would have more than 270 electoral votes. He cited the fact that his lead was growing larger in both Michigan and Pennsylvania as more and more votes were counted. He also emphasized that it is the people who decide the election results, not the President.

Soon after, NBC News projected that Joe Biden was the winner of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. This put him at 253, with him leading in Nevada and Arizona. If he was to win those two, that’s would be the ballgame.

We mutually agreed to take a night off from watching election news. However, while scrolling through the Detroit News as we were watching the fifth episode of The Queen’s Gambit, I saw that Gary Peters had been declared the winner of Michigan’s U.S. Senator race. The Democrats chances of gaining a majority in the senate remained dicey, but they would have been toast if Peters lost.

I don’t have a magic board, but it was a good day by my calculation.


I came downstairs at 5:45 a.m. and found my wife sitting on the couch, watching Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt while catching up on her many open Words with Friends games. I’m a Scrabble guy, having given up on Words with Friends after watching opponents play unrecognizable words, looking them up in the game’s dictionary, and reading that no definition was available. How can something be a word if there is no definition?

No sign of Steve Kornacki, on either the last few minutes of Way Too Early or on Morning Joe. He either left the building or keeled over from sheer exhaustion. I learned that Trump and his brain trust had filed ballot-counting lawsuits in Georgia and Pennsylvania yesterday, in addition to the one filed in Michigan. The Washington Post quoted Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, as having provided the following rationale for these lawsuits: “With these key actions, President Trump is telling all Americans he will do whatever it takes to ensure the integrity of this election for the good of the nation.” What a patriot our President is! Since he didn’t win the Nobel Prize, perhaps he will award himself the Presidential Medal of Freedom once the election is over. I look forward to watching him attempt to secure it around his neck.

The tone of the broadcast suggested that Biden was on the verge of winning the election; there were lots of sentences beginning with: “Should Vice-President Biden win. . . “. There was as much talk about the lawsuits as about voting results, and the general consensus was that the lawsuits were ridiculous, without evidence, and contradictory. Trump was attempting to get Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to stop counting ballots while simultaneously trying to get Arizona to keep counting votes because he was behind. I’m disgusted by the lawsuits but have a grudging admiration for the sheer brazenness of being able to talk out of both sides of your mouth while maintaining a straight face.

I spent part of the morning assisting my wife in measuring an office building for window treatments. Actually, she did all the measuring while my role was jotting down the numbers. That girl can sure work a tape measure. When I got home, I did a quick check to see if any of the swing states had been called for either candidate, but found that votes were still being tabulated.

I saw a Huffington Post news alert that the Biden campaign had declared earlier in the day that “victory is imminent.” A Washington Post news alert reported that the United States recorded more than 100,000 new coronavirus infections in a single day for the first time yesterday. Wouldn’t it be apropos if Biden became President-Elect the day after this horrific total was achieved?

I took a look at Facebook to see how my friends were coping with the election and the pandemic. One of my friends posted: “The only way that Trump gets to 270 is if he loses 50 pounds.” People tell me I’m a tough audience, but this one made me laugh out loud.

After watching a Zoom lecture on what it’s like to be a prison warden, I went down to the basement, stepped onto the treadmill, turned on MSNBC, and started to read the local newspapers online. The Detroit News quoted Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens as saying: “I have no basis to find that there’s a substantial likelihood of success on the merits as it relates to this defendant, nor am I convinced that there is a clear legal duty on the part of anyone who is promptly before this court to manage this issue.” In simpler terms, she tossed Trump’s lawsuit to stop counting mail-in ballots. MSNBC reported that a judge in Georgia threw out a comparable suit. I was rather pleased with myself for being able to collect all this information while not falling off the treadmill.

Even better, to tweak an old Angels 1963 hit, “Hey La, Hey La, Kornacki’s back!” There he was, shirt neatly tucked back into pants, working the giant touch screen. Thankfully for both him and his audience, there was far less flipping between screens necessary, as the both the states that are still up for grabs and the counties still reporting are dwindling. But the counties yet to report tend to be heavily Democratic, and the votes to be tabulated are write-ins, both of which bode well for Biden.

I sat down to watch the local evening news and saw a story about a viral video which began surfacing in the morning. The video was shot by Kellye SoRolle, a Texas attorney and member of “Lawyers for Trump,” a group organized in July of this year to mobilize support for Trump’s reelection campaign. The group includes both the current Attorneys General of Texas and Arkansas as well as Rudy Giuliani, so I’m sure it’s on the up-and-up.

For reasons unstated, Ms. SoRolle happened to be hanging around outside of Detroit’s TCF Center, the city’s largest vote counting location, at 2:00 a.m. She spotted a man transferring a long black box from a van into a red wagon. Ms. SoRolle decided that the box was a ballot lockbox being wheeled into the counting center after the November 3rd deadline, and started taping. She was heard saying on the tape: “Looks like one of those lockboxes. Wish I could tell. . . Where does that guy come from so late at night? I thought all the polling places were closed. Yet we have a box.”

The video was posted by the conservative website Texas Scorecard and, according to the Washington Post, was shared online thousands of times and viewed on YouTube nearly 200,000 times in one day. There was just one teeny, tiny problem: The man on the tape was photographer for WXYZ, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, and the box contained equipment he was schlepping into the TCF Center.,

President Trump came out of hiding this evening for a press conference. While trashing the election process in general, he gave a special shout-out to us Michiganders and particularly Detroiters. After falsely claiming that he had won the state, he stated that Detroit has a poor reputation for voter integrity. He falsely claimed that his campaign had been barred from observing vote counting in Detroit. And, of course, he also brought up Ms. SoRolle’s video as evidence that ballots that arrived after the polls had closed on Tuesday had been counted. Ironically, the Detroit News reported that Trump got nearly 5,000 more votes in Detroit this year than in 2016.

As Trump was spewing out his lies, the broadcast cut away to NBC’s Lester Holt who said: “We have to cut away here because the president has made a number of false allegations.” ABC anchor David Muir said something similar as his network stopped airing the press conference. CBS cut away from the broadcast to Nancy Cordes, their congressional correspondent, who began to fact-check Trump’s claims.

CNN’s Jake Tapper
CNN’s Jake Tapper

Both CNN and Fox News broadcast this abomination in its entirety. When it was over, CNN anchor Jake Tapper said: “What a sad night for the United States of America, to hear their president say that. To falsely accuse people of trying to steal the election. . . . It’s frankly pathetic.” And Fox News correspondent John Roberts came on at the conclusion and stated that his network had not seen any evidence of election fraud. The anchor of the broadcast, Brett Baier, concurred. My props to all of these networks.

Even though he lost the Michigan senatorial election to Gary Peters by some 85,000 votes, John James decided to borrow a page from the Trump playbook and refused to concede. He tweeted: “I have deep concerns that millions of Michiganders may have been disenfranchised by a dishonest few who cheat.” He’s protesting an awful lot for a person who announced he didn’t need the job in one of his last television ads.

We watched the sixth episode of The Queen’s Gambit, and flipped to MSNBC to see if the election had been called. It hadn’t, but Biden is closing the gap in both Georgia and Pennsylvania. It may be checkmate tomorrow


I came downstairs, made a pot of coffee, and turned on Morning Joe. As if they knew I had just tuned in, Joe and Mika threw it over to Steve Kornacki (What can I say? I’m wacky for Kornacki.) The Big Board showed that Biden had overtaken Trump in Georgia, and was closing fast on him in Pennsylvania.

Between these results and expanding his lead in Nevada, it certainly looked like Biden was going to be president-elect. I was excited, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why. Was it the prospect of Biden winning or Trump losing? I think it was more the anticipation of Trump being fired. While I liked Biden, I truly detested Trump. I doubted that I was alone in this sentiment.

I’ve heard Biden’s backstory more times than I could count and respect it greatly. And I felt back during the primaries that he had the best chance of any of the Democratic contenders to carry the Midwest or rebuild the so-called “blue wall”. But I find it difficult to get fired up about him or his positions. Then again, given that the Democratic Party seemed to have underperformed in this election, maybe a moderate is all that the country can tolerate. And his years as a senator may make him more effective in dealing with Congress than either Trump or Obama.

I received an alert from the Detroit News reporting that approximately 200 protesters, many without masks and some carrying pistols, rallied earlier this morning outside the TCF Center in Detroit. The protesters demanded a recount of Michigan ballots and called for an investigation into Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The rally included Phil Robinson, a cofounder of Michigan Liberty Militia and a group which reportedly has ties with men charged in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Needless to say, “lock her up” chants were in the air.

I received another news alert just before 6:00 p.m. Police had been called to the TCF Center to investigate a bomb threat. Fortunately, no bomb was found. The morning protest hadn’t subsided and had been joined by Biden supporters. It was reported that both sides were hurling insults and spitting at one another.

As my wife checked her email after dinner, I flipped over to MSNBC to catch up on things. Protests similar to the one in Detroit were happening elsewhere, primarily in states that had still been undecided. Both Georgia Senate races were headed to runoff elections in January, since there was no candidate in either race who received a majority of the votes. So, the Senate is still in play for the Democrats. Joe Biden was going to be speaking later in the evening, and the preparations being made led to speculation that he would be declaring victory. But Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania all were still too close to call, so I’m guessing that he will make another call for patience.

I read an article in the Washington Post which portrayed what was happening behind the scenes as advisers have raised with Trump the prospect of an electoral defeat and how he should handle such an outcome. Very few people interviewed for the piece believe that he will ever concede in the traditional sense, but instead will continue to claim that the election was stolen.

Trump’s family still apparently believes that he should keep fighting, while a larger group of advisers and Republican officials believe that the race is over, and the only real issue is how best to break the news to the president. According to one source for the story, “They know he’s lost, but no one seems willing to tell King Lear or Mad King George that they’ve lost the empire.”


It was exactly 11:02 a.m. when I learned that Joe Biden had been declared President-Elect. I had just turned on the TV after getting on the treadmill, and saw a graphic with a giant checkmark next to his name. Even though I had been expecting the outcome given how results in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania had been trending, I still found myself breathing a sigh of relief. It was fitting that a Scranton boy had his state put him over the top. But I couldn’t help thinking how much sweeter it would have been if it was Arizona that would have been the state that clinched it for Biden, as a little payback for John McCain and his family.

I saw a Huffington Post article indicating that Trump got the news while he was out on one of his golf courses. Perhaps he took a mulligan after he was told. He probably would have taken one anyway, as he’s been reported to cheat in golf like most of the other areas of his life.

Since “gracious” is not in his vocabulary, Trump released a statement reading: “The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or state where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.” The statement made me think of Bluto in Animal House: “Nothing is over until we say it’s over.”

Post-election partying
Post-election partying

The broadcast cut to people celebrating outside of the White House and in Times Square. As I watched the dancing and singing, I kept thinking about an article I read yesterday titled “What Is Wrong with 68 Million Americans?” written by Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatrist and faculty member in the Law and Psychiatry Division of Yale School of Medicine. The article caught my interest because I’ve been struggling mightily with the fact that 48% of voters went for Donald Trump. I’m staggered and truly frightened by that number. How can so many of my fellow Americans adore someone so ethically and morally repellent?

Yale Psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee
Yale Psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee

Dr. Lee posits that the results of the election must be examined through a mental health lens rather than a political one. In other words, the attraction that many of Trump’s supporters have for him is far more psychological in nature than support with his positions or policies.

She labels the bond between Trump and his supporters as “pathological,” and says that the toxic combination of Trump’s narcissism and sociopathy and the psychological wounds of his followers have led them to seek a parental figure. This has made them particularly vulnerable to someone manipulative or exploitative enough to claim that he will take care of them and protect them in unrealistic ways (e.g., “build that wall”). This, in turn, has resulted in conformity, loss of personality, and alignment with Trump’s thinking.

Given this strong emotional bond, Dr. Lee predicts that Trump’s supporters will experience any threat to his position as a threat to themselves. This explains why they’ve responded with denial or disavowal when presented with negative facts about Trump. And, as the relationship has intensified over time, symptoms such as delusions, paranoia, and a tendency toward violence have emerged in followers. Many have described the relationship between Trump and his supporters as an abusive one, and Dr. Lee agrees: “Abused children rather blame themselves than the parent as a survival impulse, for the parent is their lifeline, and it is easier to believe that he or she could never do wrong—and the more untrue this belief, the more insistently they cling to it.”

According to Dr. Lee, Trump’s psychopathologies suggest that, should he be defeated, he is capable of doing just about anything for his psychic survival, and “many of his followers will equally experience his downfall as a life-or-death matter.”

Dr. Lee’s article made perfect sense to me as I thought about yesterday’s protests in Detroit and the story about the behind-the-scenes deliberations at the White House. What we’re seeing now may be the calm before the storm. If she is correct, neither Donald J. Trump nor his 48% will go gentle into that good night.


Alan Resnick is an industrial psychologist with over 40 years of professional experience. He and his wife are sheltering at home in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is passing the time by cooking, exercising, catching up on friends’ recommendations of must-see TV and writing.



bottom of page