The most benign explanation of Trump’s refusal to concede is that he is engaged in the predictable hissy fit of a cartoonishly extreme narcissist who simply cannot acknowledge that he is a loser. Republican leaders are going along: better to humor the cult leader than to incur his wrath.
The darker explanation is that Trump is actually trying to overturn the results of the election by whatever dubious extra- or quasi-legal means that he can find. Republicans, more committed to holding power than to preserving democracy, are happy to go along.
Somewhere in between is the idea that Trump and his minions know that they have no real chance of negating the election result, but are laying the basis for their future strategy: the delegitimization of the Biden administration. The “Stolen Election of 2020” is to be the theme for the next four years, employed to keep the base fired up and maintain Trump’s hold on the GOP.
A variant of all three explanations is that Trump, unbalanced as he is, actually believes his fraudulent claims of voter fraud. But what does it matter? At this point the inner workings of Trump’s disordered mind are less interesting to me than are their destructive consequences.
We are indeed watching a narcissist’s hissy fit, but it’s more sinister than that. I think the truth lies somewhere between the middling and the dark explanations. Trump no doubt would be happy to become America’s first successful coup leader, and much if not most of his party would willingly be complicit. So, why not give it a shot? But they know that they’re probably not going to be successful. So, think of the current Trumpist outrages as the first post-election campaign in what will be an all-out, unceasing war against the interlopers who had the temerity to win in November 2020.
Joe Biden’s continuing theme has been his desire to bring the country together, to overcome the rancor and divisiveness that have plagued our politics. Let’s hope that he understands that the other side is not the least bit interested.