Even if Trump goes, Trumpism shall remain.
By Anatole d’Ecotopia
In the closing days of the 2020 election campaign season, a campaign event in Texas has managed to sum up all of the reasons why this may be the most important election in U.S. history — and why the ouster of Donald Trump merely begins to repair the damage he has done.
I refer, of course, to the so-called “Trump Train” of oversized trucks that managed to bring about the cancellation of multiple Democratic Texas campaign events through the simple expedient of hotboxing the campaign tour bus an a highway like a pack of frat boys singling out a date rape target on a dance floor.
I refer to this event as itself being a campaign event, given the degree it apparently meets with official GOP approval, even while it is being investigated by the FBI. When approached for comment, Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West dismissed reports of the event as “fake news”, replying “Prepare to lose… stop bothering me.” Trump reposted a video of the event on Twitter, with the comment “I LOVE TEXAS.” Mere days before the event, Trump’s equally odious son had essentially ordered it — with the comment “It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome”.
These absurdly oversized personal vehicles are a badge of identity in parts of the country that identify most with Trump and Trumpism. Their use in the practice of “owning libs” begins with using them as mobile billboards for white nationalism supremacism (those massive bumpers are frequently festooned with equally oversize and equally crass bumperstickers), moves on to the entirely selfish and despicable act of rolling coal, and had already moved on to being used as actual weapons of terror prior this event.
Nor is this anywhere close to the first time the Trump regime (calling it an “administration” is entirely too generous) has either encouraged or defended U.S. domestic right-wing terrorists. Federal law enforcement officials were given talking points and orders to defend teenaged terrorist and apparent murderer Kyle Rittenhouse as having merely sought to “defend small business owners”. And of course, most infamously, President Trump gave direct instructions to extremist group “The Proud Boys” in the middle of his otherwise fairly incoherent first debate with Joe Biden.
Clearly, this cannot go on. Police departments across the country are bracing themselves for the extreme likelihood of election night violence regardless who, if anyone, emerges a clear victor once the polls have closed. Newly anointed “handmaiden justice” Amy Coney Barrett will neither recuse herself in advance from a court decision on election results nor comment on President Trump’s inability to agree in advance to a peaceful and orderly transition of power. It remains likely that Trump will claim victory no matter what, escalate a contested election to a high court he has packed with right-wing ideologues, and that whatever speech he chooses to make on election night will include even more call outs to the violence-prone and easily triggered among his “base” of xenophobes, mysogynists, and racists.
If Trump is, indeed, sweepingly repudiated in the popular vote, there remains the chance that cooler heads within the GOP will place rebuilding their party above remaining on Trump’s “train” into madness, violence, and destruction. There remains as well the possibility such a repudiation will finally embolden the Democractic Party into the full-fledged opposition they should have shown this nightmare from its inception.
But even if Trump goes, Trumpism shall remain. The bitter, angry, and increasingly displaced people who feel entitled to threaten perceived “others” with whatever tools or weapons at their disposal were not created by Trump, merely empowered and encouraged by him. It is foolish to suppose that Trump will find as a former president the maturity, dignity, and responsibility he lacks as a sitting president. The likelihood is that he will continue to find “very fine people” among this country’s worst and continue to encourage them.
Hopefully, he will also find the accountability as a private citizen he has so far evaded as the country’s chief executive. Only then can Trump’s despicable “train” be brought to a halt.