As I write this we are 20 days shy of one sidereal year free from Donald Trump. I celebrate within myself his various departure milestones, and all those milestones are happy ones. It began with our first Trumpless hour on January 20, 2021, progressed to one day, was followed by one week, then one month, then two, then three, then 100 days, and so on.
I think of the time when Donald Trump was in office not so much as a presidency but as a crime spree. It was an interregnum between democracies. His hateful presence in the Oval Office, where he squatted like a venomous toad spewing bile and provoking division, was a putrid miasma that overshadowed the world. His tweets were deadly poison and bitter wormwood. Every one of his speeches was a tour de force of egomaniacal self-love.
There was no occasion too solemn, no moment so tragic, no human drama so poignant that he couldn’t find a way to ultimately make it all about himself. His was always the demeanor of a second rate actor playing a third rate egotistical villain in a fourth rate, poorly written melodrama with low production values.
Then there are his fans. You can divide them in many ways, but for my purposes it’s been enough to divide them between the extremely stupid and the ones who are in it for the ideology and only wished he’d tone the crazy stuff down a bit. The extremely stupid ones think Trump is God because he is stupid just like they are. The rest wish he’d cool it with the egotism, the childishness, the stunts — like using a Sharpie to change the course of a hurricane, or claims like the noise from silent windmills gives you cancer, or speculating about airports during the American revolution. But they love him anyway — for his racism, his intolerance, his willingness to use the law as a weapon against his enemies, his greed, his barbarism.
Both groups represent the very worst of humanity and, like it or not, together about one third of the American population. It is this critical one third from whom we get 90% of our trouble. Back in Germany in the 1930s it only took the backing of one third of the population of Germany to bring the Nazis to power. Later Senator Joseph McCarthy needed to fool only one third of the American people in order to achieve his divisive goals, however temporarily. Nixon had his supporters from that one third euphemistically and optimistically rebranded as “the silent majority.” The undecided, the indifferent and the badly informed always went along.
It was possible once for America to absorb the knockout blow of the villainy of a McCarthy or a Nixon and get back on its feet. No more. For one thing we’re running out of time. Back in the 1980s there was an average of 3 months between supersized climate disasters, now there’s an average of 18 days. For another thing the purpose of the evil one third has become more deliberate and more overtly evil. Not only is democracy in deadly danger from a Republican takeover, but should they succeed, the planet is doomed.
Until we can find a way to keep control permanently or eliminate or defuse the evil in the Republican Party we are going to have to keep winning elections. This year, 2022, is our first critical test since Trump. The coming midterm election is one that we can’t afford to lose. It’s a prelude to 2024, our most critical test of all. Of course, to lose executive control in 2024 will probably mean the end of America and therefore the world as we know it, particularly if the Republican winner should prove to be another Trump only smart. Electing a smart Trump would be like refighting World War II with nukes.
But we have the majority. Most Americans want what we want. Most Americans are sane and reasonable. There is no reason, statistically speaking, why we cannot assert ourselves over the toxic minority that can only win through cheating. We must win this year and we must go on winning. We must find a way to stop Republicans from passing legislation inimical to free and fair elections. Failure is not an option. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.