Would a taped murder on Fifth Avenue shred cult loyalty by Christian nationalists, abortion-crusaders, gun fanatics, or anti-government extremists?
No one can say 2016 Trumpers haven’t embraced what they bargained for – whether triggered by real, delusional or democracy-killing grievances. The Trump Big Fix is stronger than ever, nefarious charades inciting mass hypnosis beyond his wildest initial fantasies. Being a public emblem of the Seven Deadly Sins, plus malice, only amps up fundraising. When the unrepentant sinner turns saint, Christian values wither.
But who, in pragmatic America, dares fault success? First, having broken his party’s primary/campaign standards, Trump to his (and widespread) surprise slithered into the White House by badly losing the popular vote. His career Big Con, aligned with the Big Lie, now dwarfs Trump’s endless life failures. Thus empowered, he danced around Congressional mandates, impugned agencies, federal courts and the justice system, blasted alliances on trade and climate, mocked medical and climate science, and poisoned the next election cycle (and unimpeachable voting/election laws), the peaceful transfer of power, turned against “disloyal” truth-tellers, finally, becoming a serial national security horror. Forget mammoth business or real estate blunders. Trump’s true calling surfaces, turning vicious entertainment fraud into demagoguery. Hand a tantrum-throwing five-year old a hammer, ridicule him as thin-skinned loser, and surprise – stuff gets broken.
Despite voluminous evidence that would gag a simpleton, only 20% of Republicans believe Trump even tried to overturn the 2020 election, thus Pied Piper saps fund their billionaire “victim” of leftwing persecution. Why doesn’t the majority see purity? Thus do folks of modest means waste retirement cash to subsidize a multi-billionaire whose criminality (indeed, violent, treasonous, election rejection) surpasses any miscreant in presidential history. Now, that’s a fixation for the ages – though such abject loyalty beggars credibility from an allegedly self-reliant citizenry that once promoted thinking for itself and questioning oligarchic B.S. Thus do deluded sheep shred the American values of individualism and the hallowed freedom of independent thought.
Fixed minds, Fixated politics
Nothing disrupts addictions to a false, alternative reality, nor overcomes doubling down of wishful thinking with tunnel vision. Fundamentalism verifies how faith alone mocks reason. Can anyone now foresee ANY Trump crime or conviction, however heinous or despicable, alienating his mesmerized backers who not only believe Trump incapable of evil but the lone savior against countless enemies? Nothing defines an irrational cult more than belligerent denial of unarguable facts, confirmed by Trump himself (on tape forever promoting violence, begging for vote fraud), photographic proof galore (top secret document theft), unchallenged testimony by ex-advisors, and unimpeachable GOP witnesses (GA voting officials). That a definitive majority of Republicans refuse to accept Trump, either in Washington, Georgia or elsewhere, EVEN attempted to reverse the 2020 election results speaks to profound moral wreckage (across media, education, logic, thinking) and what drives the Trump candidacy: perverse myopia, reducing all to “us against them.”
In fact, the Trumpist expansion of the Tea Party lurch extended core manias: 2) oppressive D.C. government is the enemy of personal freedom (germ-deflecting masks, yuck), the evangelical faithful, and family values (on abortion, gay marriage, gender fluidity); 2) taxation is theft misspent by evil schemers pandering to non-MAGA “invaders”; 3) cosmic threats to white, Christian nationalism justify all onerous Machiavellian ploys to steamroll voting rights/election laws/fair districting, the US legal/justice systems, and whatever in that obsolete Constitution dares block MAGA dominance. Though the right forever votes against its own economic and job interests, Trumpers boast the most rightwing Supreme Court in a century (anti-abortion for the small fry, low taxes/ unregulated capitalism for the fat cats), a bizarre, four-year WH run fraught with know-nothing chaos, a mammoth loser who defies majority will (reinforcing paranoia), and two years of rightwing House control.
By any hard-nosed political measure, such historically quick reversals of the status quo are triumphs – yet religious resentment knows no limits and grievances still reign supreme. So much for normal political volatility that removes the worst criminal trash politicians.
Trumpers pushed forward exactly the bunker-busting, criminal “hero” they wanted: an oblivious, self-indulgent, self-destructive, anti-immigration racist who morphed into a rule-busting demagogue. Imagine the “liberation” of Trump discovering that his infantile lack of impulse control fed the media attention. Rule-busting of norms is his norm – and farce aside it’s still working. The campaign result today is another triumph: the least unqualified, most divisive, greatest national security threat in our history stands equal with a competent, scandal-free, centrist president with high political gains. Irrelevant are the only real-world measures that count – Trump’s staggering WH failures: no immigration reform, no health care, no outsourcing reversals, no well-paying job growth, no genuine, economic deliverables for fans, and no foreign policy positives – indeed, regression to praise demagogues who hate America. Only the culture war matters.
Equally astonishing and rapid is the wing-bat Trump hijacking of the party, lurching from nominating Romney in 2012 to being owned, lock, stock and barrel, by his total opposite personality four years later. That’s not all Trump’s doing but an epic shift nonetheless – and the beat goes on. Really, only a taped Trump shooting of an innocent on Fifth Avenue would lift eyebrows these days. Buried somewhere is looming good news as the rightwing party, as self-destructive as Trump, squanders its House control. While ominous, the dubious shift from slimy McCarthy to slicker, first MAGA Speaker Johnson will backfire IF ONLY governance matters. Expect greater lows of GOP badness, flush with party contradictions, that torpedo party electoral power.
Only reason, law and voting counter chaos
But not quite yet, assessing the latest rightwing madness (disruptions, resistance, calls to violence, promised vigilante voter harassment) and Trump’s more unhinged rhetoric (especially vile attacks on witnesses, prosecutors). Having pooh-poohed the vicious attack on Pelosi’s innocent husband, Trump called for the execution of the “treasonous” former chief of staff, dumps endless racist attacks on minorities and urban centers, even blithely favors gunning down suspected shoplifters. Let the dogs out, turning malls into bloody shooting galleries, not all that different from the plague of serial murders every few weeks. Why not?
Political ignorance remains so rampant that 34% of Republicans doubt we even need a House Speaker. Heck, why not banish government? Why have elections?Why run for president when your lackeys no longer honor the sanctity of self-government? Let’s settle everything with shootouts in the street, especially since the right is far better armed than the left? Majority rule, feh! Trumped by “might makes right,” the authoritarian war cry.
Hardly out of the woods, we still have a violence-prone, Trump-dominated party willing to forgive whatever its terrorist, wannabe strongman concocts. Amidst all, we still have a stable, if problematic centrist leader punished for being old, despite zero evidence of the irrationality, reality-denial and redneck bigotry on the right. Warts and all, Biden has not shipwrecked the ship of state – and that’s as significant (if not more so) than the charade of Trump politics that reduces all to a vicious, no holds-barred culture battlefield.
One can’t say ‘24 America voters won’t have the most obvious alternative since the Civil War – more predictable Bidenism or more unpredictable scorched earth, Trumpian firestorms. What civilized nation wouldn’t gag on such a choice? Whatever. Either keep the doors open and the lights on or burn the house down because an aggrieved, insular minority demands control. Batten down the hatches: this political hurricane roars still, without a visible, rational brake on a careening train wreck again headed at the Capitol. Yet, where’s proof the felony-ridden con man has a viable path to the White House?