With each passing day it seems increasingly more likely that Donald Trump will leave office on January 20th. Significant violence also appears less likely although I am not willing to rule it out just yet. I feel that Trump will exit the scene and fade more than many are projecting but that doesn’t mean that his ilk will disappear. Let’s explore.
To begin let’s deal with Trump specifically. I think his legal and financial problems will overwhelm him and he will be a non-factor long before 2024 rolls around. Trump rose to power for two main reasons.
Foremost he tapped into a sense among many white voters that they were victims of the system, the “other people” were getting all the breaks and were stealing their jobs. In all honesty many were left behind as the economy changed because of automation and as it became increasingly global. Opportunity is not equal in America. You cannot tell me that a rich kid and a poor or working class kid compete on an equal footing. If nothing else there is a huge gap in access to high speed broadband and computers. (It goes much deeper and broader than that.) Much of it is systemic. How are the super wealthy to get even wealthier if they don’t have an ample supply of people to exploit? Despite right wing mythology to the contrary, liberals are not the enemy of the masses regardless of the color of their skin.
Trump was a master of “earned media” because he was so unconventional and unpredictable. He received a disproportionate share of media coverage in the 2016 campaign because he was so unorthodox and inflammatory. He was either fun to watch or like an accident you had to look at despite your better judgment. For our largely for-profit media it was simple: Trump “sold”.
In reality Trump was really no different than many of the fascist leaders that rose to power in 1930s Europe. They tapped into grievance and were bombastic. Trump will leave but the grievance along with the racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny will still exist.
In other words (and many said it before me) Trump is a symptom not the disease. The “market” for that kind of figurehead existed in the aftermath of World War I, during much of the mid-20th century and it will exist post the Trump presidency. Trump’s exit will not be a solution; it will create a vacuum.
It may happen for the 2024 Republican Presidential primary or it make take several years but a replacement for Trump will emerge. I have high hopes for what a Biden administration can achieve if the Democrats are fortunate enough to go 2-for-2 in Georgia on January 5th but even they will not come close to solving all the problems of the “aggrieved whites”. (And while 2-for-2 is a definite possibility it isn’t even a probability,)
Political junkies love to play speculation/prediction games and I am not immune. Therefore the parlor game question becomes who will “replace” Trump. I’ll be honest, I haven’t the foggiest idea. This much history seems to tell us: It will not be an obvious choice. In fact I think the next Trump is most likely to come from outside of politics. There is a plethora of elected Republicans who think they are the heir apparent to Trump’s base after his likely demise. (It is Trump’s not the GOP’s base.) That is one of the reasons people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are playing nice with Trump’s supporters. Looking at history I think the next Trump is more likely to come from the world of “celebrity” or obscurity.
The thing I am the most certain of is that he (and it will be a male) will come. Throughout history evil has had many names and in the final analysis they are all irrelevant.
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