Trump isn't Hitler, he's Gilderoy Lockhart.
It's long been clear that Trump has very little idea of what being President actually involves. He likely didn't expect to win -- his complaints about election-rigging sounded like face-saving before an anticipated defeat. Since the election, and particularly after his early meetings with Obama, he's been realizing what he's gotten himself into. And he's sometimes seemed rather daunted by it, something especially
striking in a man who usually projects such boundless self-confidence.
It's possible that, deep down, he wishes there were a way out. He's already talking about living part of the time in New York instead of the White House, treating the Presidency as a part-time job and leaving as much of the real work as possible to others. He'll soon learn, if he hasn't already, that that won't work. Most of the President's power is non-transferable, and therefore, so is most of the responsibility.
But he still has an escape available, in the unlikely event that he has the imagination to use it.
Much has been made recently of the fact that the Electors who meet on December 19 to actually choose the President are technically free to "vote their consciences" rather than following the outcomes in their respective states. Lawrence Lessig
, David Halperin
, and others have made the case that, given Trump's obvious unfitness for office and Hillary Clinton's large popular-vote margin of victory, they should exercise that power and elect her. They are, of course, very unlikely to do so. Most Electors are reliable party members, or they wouldn't be chosen for the position. Unless the recounts currently under way in some states produce new results, 38 Trump Electors would need to abandon him for this to work. That would be unprecedented.
But if Trump wants
a way out of the daunting position he's put himself in, this is it. If he himself were to inform the Electors that, upon reflection, he thinks the will of the people as shown in the popular vote should be respected after all and asks them to elect Hillary, they would have a green light to do what many of them, deep down, must know they ought to do anyway (aside from Trump's unfitness, Republicans must realize that a disastrous Trump Presidency could mean a backlash against the party in 2018 and 2020). And Trump could tell himself he'd be acclaimed as a man of principle who gave up power for the sake of democracy, rather than being remembered as a (probably) failed President or as a quitter who chickened out and resigned in frustration at some point in his term.
Even that wouldn't mean Hillary would win then and there. Some Republican Electors might prefer to vote for a more mainstream Republican such as Romney or Kasich. If no one candidate got 270 votes, the decision would move to the Republican-dominated House, which would then face the excruciating choice of giving the Presidency to either (a) Hillary, whom Republicans loathe, or (b) Trump, whom many of them know is unqualified and who would already have signaled he was renouncing the job, or (c) a third candidate who didn't get any
of the popular vote. Remember, though that Democrats do control some state delegations in the House. If the Republicans were divided, Hillary still could win.
As I say, this is a fantasy. I don't expect it to happen. But it would be a win-win-solution for pretty much everyone (except the Trumpanzees, who are soon going to realize anyway that they've been conned
). And it would be a fittingly bizarre end to a bizarre election.