Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport.
Luck comes in two forms, and we got both!
Trump’s four year rampage through out democracy was certainly bad luck. His unrelenting attacks on the press (FAKE NEWS), his terrible foreign policy (will NATO ever be the same?) (will America ever be trusted again?), his open adulation and support of authoritarians, his racist support of “very good people”, his fascism (exhibited most recently by his unfounded, warrantless attacks on the electoral process) ….all have shaken the very foundations of our Republic.
He’s nothing more than a fraud and a grifter, interested only in money. Everything he has done had one ultimate end, to increase his petty pile. He was a politician by accident, running an initial campaign for president that was primarily about putting dollars in his pocket. No one was more surprised that he won in 2016 than he.
He was a terrible candidate, who in 2016 managed by luck and feral cunning to eliminate much better qualified Republican candidates in the primaries and then had the good fortune to compete against a candidate who had 40 years of negative baggage and whom many Americans intensely disliked. Comey’s surprise was the final gift to Trump.
He was a terrible president. Itemizing cases would make this post prohibitively long.
In the 2020 election nearly 50 % of Americans threw their vote to this incompetent, fascist, racist, lying sociopath. A more competent politician would have easily won. Trump’s political incompetence was our good fortune. An undeserved and certainly unappreciated gift of good luck.
Now we can all breathe a big sigh of relief. And once the pandemic is over, go back to our pre-Trump lives. Democracy works!
But consider-populists have risen to power throughout the world: Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. These people win elections but subvert democratic norms: by criminalizing dissent, suppressing or demonizing the media, harassing the opposition, and deploying extra-legal mechanisms whenever possible (Putin’s opponents have a penchant for meeting tragic accidents). Orbán proudly uses the phrase illiberal democracy to describe the populism practiced by these men; Trump has many similarities to them, both rhetorically and policy-wise, but he was incompetent and petty.
For all his incompetence, Trump gave the Republican Party some successes: The Supreme Court is solidly in their corner; they will likely retain control of the Senate; House Republicans won more seats than they were projected to; and they are looking at significant gains in state Houses as well, giving them control over redistricting for the next decade. Even better for their long-term project, they have diversified their own coalition, gaining more women candidates and more support from nonwhite voters.
Which is bad luck for us. Trump prepared the way for the next authoritarian. After abandoning traditional decades long Republican values such as fiscal responsibility and free trade, Republicans have embraced the doctrine of “Unrestrained POWER.” Their next candidate will leverage that knowledge. That candidate is out there, now. And we will certainly see a populist/authoritarian candidate in 2024.
We will need to be prepared. The Democrats need to shed their Keystone Kops strategy, and fast.
Trump’s defeat is not the end of the war, it’s simply a fortunate victory in a small battle in a much larger conflict.