Could Trump Start a Civil War With Just This One Tweet?

A drowning man will clutch at a straw. Time to #SuspendTrump

J.C. Peters
5 min readNov 14, 2020


Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Source: Gage Skidmore

Is it just me, or is Trump’s behavior increasingly (and eerily) similar to that of another infamous demagogue during the final days of his reign?

Like Trump, this other leader, let’s call him Floda Reltih, was faced with imminent defeat by a grand coalition of capitalists and socialists. Holed up in his offices, colloquially known as his “bunker,” he surrounded himself with loyalists, whom he ordered to keep fighting on to the last man.

Like Trump, who, according to people close to him, is moving between baseless belligerence and resignation, Reltih moved between a fanatical belief in the “Final Victory” and tired resignation to the inevitable.

Also like Trump, he purged some of his generals and senior officials right up to the end, while his staff kept working as if his reign would last for a thousand years.

And where Floda Reltih kept hoping for last-minute relief by armies that no longer existed, Trump keeps pinning his hopes on votes that were never cast.

To Concede or not to concede

Floda Reltih did eventually realize all was lost, at which point he bit a cyanide capsule and shot himself in the head. The question is whether Trump will have a similar moment of clarity.

During a staff meeting at Trump’s campaign headquarters on November 9, campaign manager Bill Stepien reportedly said that Trump was “still in this fight,” and that, “There is a process. Have patience.”

He’s still in this fight? Have patience? Tell me that doesn’t sound more like he’s talking about some traumatized Vietnam Vet with a red headband holed up in the woods than the President of the United States.

And even if most people around Trump seem to be expecting the president will soon surrender to reality, if there is one thing friend and foe can agree on, it is that Trump is like “a horse loose in a hospital,” as the comedian John Mulaney once said. “No one knows what the horse is going to do next, least of all the horse.”



J.C. Peters

Author of History That Changed the World (Odyssea Publishing, 2017). Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on CNBC, The Hill, Quartz, and other media.