4(ever) More Years?
When he says he'll negotiate, Trump's talking about forcing our surrender.
So, obviously everything about this is terrible:
But do you know what jumps out at me?
The word “negotiate”.
Here is the thing about Donald Trump: his marketing hype aside, he is not a skilled or shrewd negotiator. Or maybe that’s not fair. I should really say that he has no interest in negotiating with other people. Not in the conventional sense.
This is because he has figured out something: when you have hostages, other people have to negotiate with you.
We’ve all seen how this plays out in his dealings with small businesses: he makes a deal that seems favorable and never pays cash up front. His vendors and contractors never quail at that because they don’t want to lose his business and obviously he’s good for it.
Then he stiffs them and ties them up in court until they give up or finally agree to settle… and if they settle, he then throws out the settlement agreement and offers a smaller payment because the other party has shown their desperation.
Donald Trump’s legendary (in every sense of the word) negotiating skills first came to the forefront when he was lobbying for his first casino license in Atlantic city. He needed to convince them he would be a reliable business partner. His pitch? He was such a great negotiator that the banks were afraid of him, and he could hold them to a good rate on the loans, making the casino more profitable.
Once the gaming commission gave him the go-ahead, he went to the banks and accepted junk bond financing, the kind with horrible interest rates and which required no negotiation on his part. He took the first offer, the same offer any developer could have gotten, the offer he’d told the board that every other developer would have gotten but not him, because he’s a tough negotiator.
What his financiers didn’t know is that he wasn’t going into business them, they had gone into business with him. He proceeded to run his casino into to the ground in the most grandiose and dramatic way possible: he opened up two casinos in direct competition with it, each one bigger than the last.
See, the first casino, fraudulently obtained with a lot of big talk, just became part of his con for the next round of suckers. Of course he was a good risk for their investment. He knew everything about running a casino! Look, he already had one up and running.
Oh, but I forgot a detail: the first casino wasn’t even really his. He had opened it in partnership with established gaming outfit Harrah’s but had convinced them that his name had a cachet it didn’t actually have in New Jersey and that it would be better business to use his branding. With his name up in lights, it didn’t matter who owned what stake on paper or who ran the casino business.
Harrah’s, seeing their ostensible partner opening up a bigger and better casino to siphon business away from the one they owned with him, cashed out of the operation when it became clear he didn’t see any problem letting it fail.
Again: he wasn’t in business with them. They were in business with him.
Because Donald Trump doesn’t take on partners. He takes hostages.
By the time he was up to three casinos and every single one of them was a money pit — it was never his money, though he didn’t mind living large off it as it went up in smoke — the banks were really nervous and brought him in for a Come To Jesus meeting.
They could have put him in default but that would leave them owning three very expensive failed businesses they had no interest in running. And on paper, they should have been profitable. How do you lose money running a casino? The house, famously, always wins.
So they told him how serious they were and what changes he needed to make to avoid default and they put him — hundreds of millions of dollars in debt — on an allowance that would allow him to still maintain appearances because they needed him to look successful.
Donald Trump, a man who has bragged about never giving women jewelry because they’re negotiable assets, responded by buying Marla Maples —a woman he never actually cared for — a fancy ring and driving around town in a new car.
The bankers had meant to show Donald Trump how serious they were.
What he had seen was how scared they were.
They needed him; he didn’t need them. He had gotten what he needed out of them: his name up in lights on big fancy properties, a chance to play tycoon and bon vivant for a bit and boost his reputation. Sure, the casinos would fail, but as far as anyone knew from the outside they had been open and thus successful for a long time and he would just move onto the next thing, leaving the next owner to close them down.
So when Donald Trump says he’s going to negotiate for another term in office, he doesn’t mean he’s going to come to Congress, hat in hand, and make his case. He doesn’t mean he’s going to try to offer some concessions and try to find a solution that works for everyone and if the rest of the country can’t find it in our hearts to forget the whole “Constitution” thing and give him a mulligan, he’ll take his business elsewhere.
What he means is: he will take hostages.
Heck, as the so-called president of these benighted states, he doesn’t need to take them. He’s already got over 300 million of them right here, and the biggest guns in the world ready to be pointed at billions more.
To be blunt: Donald Trump requires the presidency. He needs to be president in a way no one in the history of the republic have ever needed to be president. It’s his immunity to prosecution. It’s his privacy shield for the elaborate web of papier-mâché shell corporations, money laundering schemes, and scams he calls the Trump Organization. It’s his claim to fame and the source of his narcissistic supply.
And it’s the only way he can continue to service the few debts that anyone is in a position to force him to make good on, those to his foreign backers who don’t ask nicely and hope he’ll see reason.
He needs the presidency and if he can’t have it then his life is worth about as much as his signature on a contract. Imagine that man with four more years in office and in possession of two ironclad facts: one is that he has to leave at the end of them, but the other is that he will face absolutely no consequences for anything he does with them.
Most people on this planet, if you were to flat out tell them, “You are immune to the law for the next four years but when the four years are up you can and will face the consequences of your actions”… most of us would still have limits on our behavior. Many of us wouldn’t even act all that differently, out of a mixture of still maintaining the same moral compunctions and the knowledge that our immunity was fleeting.
Donald Trump is not most people. His calculus in that situation — especially if he’s already facing prosecution for things he’s already done and thus has nothing to lose — is that he has four years to seize enough power that he can hold onto it forever.
Now, nobody has literally told him that he’s immune to all consequences, and I believe that there actually is and always has been a limit to what his party will tolerate from him, and he knows it.
But again, he’s not most people, not even most power-hungry, greedy, and desperate opportunists.
When he identifies a limit, he doesn’t figure out how to make the most of what he has to work with. He pushes against it until it gives. It’s why he gets worse, more brazen, over time. I think if he gets another term, we will see a serious escalation from him from November through January, with the biggest spikes coming just after the election and again around the inauguration.
But what he does in the first year of that term will pale what he will be capable of by the fourth.
When he says he’ll negotiate for another term, what he means is he’ll do everything in his power to force our surrender.