Background Briefing: November 8, 2020


The Madman Melts Down With Thousands of Nukes at His Fingertip

We begin with Joe Biden’s resounding victory over Donald Trump bringing joy and celebration to the streets of America while an ominous silence remains within the ranks of the 70 million Americans who voted for Trump as he furiously tweets to them that he won and the Democrats cheated, announcing on Thursday that “If you count the legal vote, I easily win,” Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute who previously served as president of the Ploughshares Fund and is the author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, joins us. With America witnessing the meltdown of a madman in the Oval Office, we are living through a disturbing and dangerous chapter that history will remember as both the pinnacle of shame and hope, desperation and salvation. We discuss the unique peril of having a president who is losing the power that he believes is his alone, while retaining the power to blow up the world with the nuclear codes at his fingertips, unfettered and unchecked. Trump has always been a textbook case of grandiose self-aggrandizement and pathological delusion, but when an extreme narcissist is publicly humiliated, he could lash out on a cataclysmic scale, particularly if he resorts to using the thousands of nuclear weapons that he alone can launch.


Trump’s Followers Believe His Lies That He Won and the Election Was Stolen

Then we speak with Mark Danner, a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker who is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley and Bard College. He joins us to discuss his latest article at the NYRB, “The Con He Rode in On: Why do people hardly even talk about all the car plants Trump has brought to Michigan?” At the rapturous rallies Mark Danner attended, Trump’s fans believed and applauded him when he lied to them declaring, “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan!. We brought you a LOT of car plants. You know that, right?” Given that example, we can only hold our breath as millions of his armed followers stew in righteous anger believing that the election was stolen from him. 


The Battle Ahead in Georgia For Control of the Senate

Then finally we go to Georgia as the final count there gives Biden a very narrow victory but sets up a critical battle ahead as both senate seats now head for a run-off election on January 5 that will decide who controls the U.S. Senate. Andra Gillespie, a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University, joins us to discuss the expected massively expensive and intense fight to either end gridlock by prying the majority from Mitch McConnell’s hands or four years of frustration and paralysis for the Biden presidency.