The rise of Donald Trump, and its downstream infection, Trumpism, has many causes; among the most crucial, though, was our collective lack of imagination. Come Summer 2015, we’d never seen anything like him succeed in mainstream American politics. Our collective biases toward normalcy and confirmation made his victory in 2016 that much more shocking.
For too many of us, the desire to return to some magical “before time,” to be able to shake ourselves out of a bad dream, to demand, both inwardly and outwardly, that this period is finally coming to an end, overpowers the reality before us.
This is engaging in fantasy. These last seven-plus years have been difficult. The psychic shocks we’ve faced, from Trump’s rise to a deadly pandemic, are not over. As we live out each day in this new epoch, we’re simultaneously processing what we’ve seen, felt, and lost.
The idea that we can lose one million souls to Covid-19 and just go on about our business seems too painful to confront. The economic, educational, and social disruptions have yet to be calculated. To boot, the noise and ugliness of our politics never stop. The volume is turned up to 11.
This is why, as we deal with our collective PTSD, we must dig deep and look with clear eyes and brave hearts at what the next two years of American politics will look like. If you’ve shut down your imagination, it’s time to open it back up. If you think the last seven years have been insane, I’m sorry to tell you: We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
I spent most of last week along the Acela Corridor. My broad takeaways aren’t surprising: Conventional wisdom is difficult to crack, and too few people are able to recognize how upside-down our world is. I told one group: “Take everything you know about American politics and throw it out the window.”
Listening to numerous questions about the relative strength of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (glorious glass jaw) and other Republican presidential (anti-Trump) wannabes speaks to broad-based misunderstandings of Trump, the Republican Party, and how hard it is for those inside the bubble to believe that life outside has changed.
The Republican Party belongs to Donald J. Trump. He is the odds-on favorite to win the 2024 presidential nomination. As families begin to gather this Christmas season, Trump’s would-be opponents are spending time with their families, closest advisors, and their top donors. Each of them will have that moment when they look in the mirror and ask whether they have “what it takes.” The difference when they look in their mirrors, though, is it’s Trump’s mottled orange visage staring back at them.
How do we know it’s still Trump’s party? After last week’s Georgia runoff election, right-wing talking heads blamed RNC Chair Ronna ROMNEY McDaniel, Mitch McConnell, the consultant class, and the GOP establishment. Whose name didn’t get a mention?
Fill in the blank here: _____________
In the weeks prior to that, Trump had dinner with known anti-Semites and continued to cover his fellow Republicans in the ejaculate of his Truth Social feed. Among other things, Trump indicated the US Constitution should be terminated if the GOP didn’t start winning elections again soon. Elon’s Twitter feed (pronouns: troll/flaming Tesla) helped push the insanity along, claiming Trump’s 2020 loss was due to…Twitter’s interference.
The mainstream political press, the GOP donor class, and the last of the trade association Republicans sputtered and spit their rejection of such acts and language. Once again, though, whose name didn’t get a mention?
Fill in the blank here: _____________
Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans, preparing to take the keys to the family truckster, are on the path to two years of worship at the altars of Hunter Biden’s personal life, Putin’s wishes, and the destruction of the Republic. They do this not because so many of them believe in it (they don’t - they’re mostly cynics) but because they know the GOP base demands it. And the Base (al-Qaeda in Arabic) rules the party.
These are the ravings of just the last several weeks. As we enter the New Year, the insanity and its velocity will only increase. It is up to us to expand our imaginations, to understand why they do it, how it is our duty to fight it, and to remember that this fight is far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning.