A Last Piece of Advice for Trump

On Wednesday [Jan. 6], Donald Trump, soon-to-be ex-president, tried to reverse his defeat to Joe Biden in the American presidential election by inciting his herd to take over the U.S. Capitol and pressure congressmen to hand him the victory. It did not work. Despite the turmoil caused by actions never before seen in the United States, Congress confirmed Biden’s victory and sent Trump home for good. The problem is that until Jan. 20, Trump’s home is the White House. And who knows what he’ll be capable of doing before the day he has to return the keys and slither off.

That’s just the problem. As I write on Thursday morning Portugal time, Trump is retiring to his room, suffering through the shame that he’s brought to America, his country now the target of world ridicule. As we watched the scene unfold on TV, we all had the same exact thought: “Does this mean that the United States is like any republiquette of Latin America? Are we witnessing things play out like an operetta in 19th century Europe, where a general or archduke tries to violently take or keep power against popular will?” It was not what we spent our lives learning from films with Henry Fonda, James Stewart or Gary Cooper, in which the American Constitution was more sacred than the Bible or Moby Dick. Right now, Trump, still in full possession of his presidential powers, may be planning to use them to unleash one last revenge on opponents who have reduced him to what he has feared most since he was born: a loser. Yes, Trump is a loser — and he was a loser before he was humiliated on Wednesday. He is a loser because, through his actions, he lost the respect of the international community and good Americans. But there’s nothing more dangerous than a loser — they have nothing left to lose. And Trump is a loser who still has triggers to squeeze. He may, for example, want to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. After all, as president, he does know the nuclear codes.

Those of us who are neutral observers know that, deep down, Trump has nothing personal against Iran and doesn’t even know which continent it is on, and that this bomb would not have any real meaning to him — he would only launch it to complicate Biden’s life. But the bomb would destroy the capital, Tehran, all the same. Russia, seeing itself as the next target, would be able to anticipate an attack and launch warheads upon New York, reducing the city to ashes and preventing the reopening of Broadway theaters, scheduled for June. Several films from the 1960s dealt with this subject, teaching us just how dangerous it is to leave weapons of mass destruction in reach of madmen. But, fortunately, there is yet another hypothesis: that Trump becomes so depressed by his defeat and the end of his career that he doesn’t even have the strength to push a button. And then I would recommend the only action capable of making him an icon, a symbol, a flag to be unfurled forever by his idiotized followers. And that action would be: to kill himself.

We Brazilians have some experience with the matter. In the distant past, we had a president who took this approach: Getúlio Vargas. In 1930, he took power after an armed revolution and operated a simulacrum of democracy until 1937, when he incited a “self-coup” and instituted a fascist dictatorship, called, not by chance, the Estado Novo, or the New State. It bore the same name as the regime of his Portuguese counterpart, Oliveira Salazar, and was equally as cruel. Getúlio, who was sympathetic to the Germans, established a regime of terror in Brazil: total suffocation of any opposition and indescribable torture in his prisons. In 1942, because of the international pressures of World War II, he had to join the Allies against Hitler. In fact, Brazil was the only South American country to send soldiers to Europe (more precisely, to Italy). And just for that, at the end of the war, Getúlio was overthrown — it did not make sense to fight for democracy abroad and maintain an undemocratic regime at home. But due to his surprising alliance with the communists shortly before he was overthrown, Getúlio built himself a “progressive” façade, which reinforced his mythological status. With such a reputation, he returned to power five years later (in 1950) as a constitutionally elected president. Yes, the people elected him.

Even so, a democratic election didn’t help him much. With his government overwhelmed by corruption and crime — the so-called “sea of mud,” which even involved one of his sons — Getúlio, knowing he had lost his way, wrote a “letter-will” and shot himself in the heart. This happened on Aug. 24, 1954. One sentence from his echoes on forever: “I am leaving life so that I may enter history.” As a result, Getúlio still has millions of followers who miss him dearly.

Trump could do it exactly like Getúlio. Shooting himself in the heart, and not in the head, would be essential. A shot to the head makes a big mess: blood, brains and shards of bone scattered around the room. A shot in the chest is absolutely clean. Plus, it keeps the face intact, so that it can be photographed and can serve as a model for a death mask, which is useful in making busts and statues — like the ones that Getúlio has all over Brazil. It would be an honorable exit for Trump (and has the added advantage of not messing up his hairdo).

Here at home, the genocidal Jair Bolsonaro, Trump’s last ally in the world, continues to believe that the American election was fraudulent. He has even already declared that Brazil will have the same problem in 2022, the year he’ll seek reelection. Bolsonaro’s campaign, knowing that he too will be defeated, is even so attempting to prevent such a loss.

But I would recommend an even more radical preventative measure. If Trump chooses suicide, Bolsonaro should do it too. I don’t mean he should wait for his defeat in the election. I mean he should do it now, as soon as possible.

Brazil cannot rid itself of Bolsonaro soon enough.

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