There is no shortage of analysis and opinion writing telling us that Donald Trump’s Big Lie worked. So many of these articles go a defeatist step further, concluding it’s inevitable that Trump or someone more odious (and perhaps more competent) will finish the job of destroying America’s democracy beginning on Inauguration Day 2025.
This type of writing is harmful if we let the gloomy premises and prognostications convince us to give up the good fight—two and a half years before the next presidential election! Fortunately, there is another way to react to these depressing articles, which is to treat them as additional fuel for activism. These articles are not crystal balls that reveal what will happen, but merely speculation of what might happen.
The fact that this speculation is scary can be productive. It should light an even greater fire under our butts to ensure we don’t squander opportunities as we first approach the midterms. This is not the time to start mentally preparing for survival under some new, vague fascist regime, but to focus our collective energy on ensuring such a nightmare won’t happen—not in our country and not on our watch.
Despite what some may say, the Big Lie didn’t exactly “work.” President Joe Biden is still in office while Trump swings his golf club under the shadow of his close associate Vladimir Putin’s growing list of atrocities, a grim, walking advertisement for the horrors of where Trumpism can lead. In a recent interview with Politico, autocracy expert Ruth Ben-Ghiat explained that the Big Lie allowed Trump “to psychologically never leave” and “prevented his propagandized followers from having to reckon with the fact that he lost.”
Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republicans for the Rule of Law and publisher of The Bulwark, recently held focus groups to gain greater insight into why these propagandized followers still believe the Big Lie. She found that for many, it “is not a fully formed thought” but “more of an attitude, or a tribal pose,” she wrote in The Atlantic. Longwell pointed out that Big Lie adherents indeed struggle to “explain how or why” the election was supposedly stolen.
It’s time for this dangerous “attitude” to give way to truth, reality, and kindness. When you read doom-and-gloom narratives that tempt with desperation, derive inspiration instead. Also, take note of the many positive developments that are getting Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and other villains of democracy quaking in their boots. Read about it on the pages of Palmer Report and visit the January 6th Committee’s website to see what that bipartisan juggernaut is up to. Despite what some may want us to believe, the future hasn’t been written yet, and every one of us has both the power and the time to shape it.