Whether it is deaths from Covid-19 or his own election defeat, admitting loss is something Trump finds impossible to do
It could be considered a small thing that Trump can neither meet with Biden nor acknowledge that he has lost the election to him. But what if the refusal to acknowledge loss is bound up with the path of destruction we call Trump’s exit route? Why is it so hard to lose? The question has at least two meanings in these times. So many of us are losing people to Covid-19, or fearing death for ourselves or others. All of us are living in relation to ambient illness and death, whether or not we have a name for that sense of the atmosphere. Death and illness are quite literally in the air. And yet, it is unclear how to name or fathom these losses, and the resistance of Trump to public mourning has drawn from, and intensified, a masculinist refusal to mourn that is bound up with nationalist pride and even white supremacy. The Trumpists tend not to grieve openly pandemic deaths. They have conventionally rejected the numbers as exaggerated (“fake news!”) or defied the threat of death with their gatherings and maskless marauding through the public spaces, most recently in their spectacle of thuggery in the US Capitol in animal costumes. Trump never acknowledged the losses the US has suffered, and had no inclination or capacity to offer condolences. When the losses were referenced, they were not so bad, the curve was flattening, the pandemic would be short, it was not his fault, it was China’s fault. What people need, he claimed, was to get back to work because they were “dying” at home, by which he meant only that they were driven crazy by domestic confinement.