Our nation, the world's oldest democracy, stands at the doorway of a dictatorship that seemed unimaginable before Donald J. Trump attained the presidency.
In his desperation to retain the office he fairly won four years ago and fairly lost on Nov. 3, Trump has bared the mind and menace of a tyrant. There is no better word for his conduct although the word "traitor" also comes to mind.
Since the Constitution narrowly defines treason as "levying war" against the United States or in "adhering to their enemies," Trump's machinations might not qualify as that crime, which is punishable by death.
But they are in every sense the moral equivalent. He swore to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution" that he is now obsessed with subverting.
No losing candidate, let alone an incumbent president, ever attempted that.
A distant comparison might be had only to the contested election of 1876, when Congress resolved disputed vote totals in Florida and two other states in favor of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who was known thereafter as "his fraudulency."
There is no question now, however, over the popular vote outcome in any state
But Trump, having lost a torrent of lawsuits that were as baseless as his claim to have won the election, is now trying to bully Republican state legislators in Michigan and Pennsylvania to override the votes of their citizens.
The people of those states favored former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. by a combined winning margin six times larger than Trump achieved in 2016, when no one questioned the legitimacy of his victory.
Discarding popular votes, whatever the pretext, is what dictators do. It is what tyrants do.