By David Dayen
This is a horror story.
Maybe you think that way about the past three years: the corrupt self-dealing, the fusillade of lies and ignorance, the corporate handover of the regulatory state, the authoritarian repression. The oncoming election may provide you with a crack of hope for America to reverse what many consider a grave mistake.
But while Election Day will signal the end of a campaign, it’s not the end of Donald Trump’s term in office.
The 78 days from November 3 to January 20, known as the transition, have kept me awake at night since I started reporting out this article. The coming interregnum is likely to be one of the most politically, economically, and socially fraught periods in American history, one that could set the trajectory for the nation’s future. “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can,” Michelle Obama counseled in her Democratic Convention speech. Trust me on that as well; they will, immediately after the election.
We have had a few catastrophic transitions in the past. After the 1860 election, seven states seceded from the union rather than endure under President Abraham Lincoln, who had to sneak into Washington with armed guards for the inaugural to avoid assassination plots. The 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes wasn’t decided until just a couple of days before the term began, with an election commission flipping three states to Hayes in exchange for his agreement to remove federal troops from the South, ushering in nearly a 100 years of Jim Crow.