While the nefarious parts of the life of Donald Trump, his rapes, his thefts, his murders, his treasons, his swindles, his bigotries, his frauds, his betrayals, his bombastic, self-indulgent braggadocio, are all finally coming home to roost, much of the Republican Party remains staunchly behind him. After what has been arguably the worst two weeks in the life of a man whose life can only get worse, the GOP remains content to stay on board this twenty-first century Titanic, still insisting that there is nothing to see here and that not only is the ship remaining afloat it will be sailing for some new ports very soon.
As was true with the January 6th insurrection, Republicans have been trying on rationalizations and explanations for the search warrant executed on Mar-a-Lago like brand new dresses, hoping to find one that fits. One amusing intersection between January 6 and the search warrant is Republicans tried blaming both on malfeasance by the FBI. Recall that one of the “theories” Republicans advanced was that the insurrectionists (who were alleged by them to be variously tourists, Antifa and the CIA) were really FBI agents disguised as Trump supporters.
Some might say that the GOP polity has become a cult of personality, but with the exception of wackos like Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and MTG, they are more like sitcom writers for 1970s television: they didn’t suddenly become bad writers, they were just giving the public what they wanted. The GOP knows that Trump still has ratings with much of the low-information and brain-damaged part of the American constituency, and they are hellbent on exploiting it. After all, those people do in fact vote, unfortunately.
I grew up in an America where I believed (and I think there is some merit to it) that the president of the United States was, while imperfect, always someone distinguished by a rare combination of talent and brains. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine someone who was positivity the worst person I could think of becoming president. Donald Trump isn’t merely stupid and evil: I don’t know of anyone who is more stupid and more evil than he. Why so many people love him and believe him to be something he is clearly not is an enduring mystery I may never solve. But many Americans believe this hoodwinking charlatan to be a moral and decent human being. It’s astonishing.
And love him they do, and like all cults, that love is unfalsifiable. With the liars and hypocrites who defend him, every bad thing he has ever done will always have an exonerating explanation, no matter how many bad things they see and hear, no matter the evidence, no matter if it’s all caught on tape. It wasn’t hyperbole when Trump once bragged (and virtually everything Trump has ever said is a brag) that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose any votes.
Any one of his scandals would destroy the political careers of anyone else. Imagine if it had been discovered that Barack Obama had stolen money from a children’s cancer charity. Imagine if Obama destroyed numerous family businesses because he’s a deadbeat who doesn’t like to pay people. There would have been no President Obama. But not Donald Trump. Trump doesn’t merely live on toxic waste. He thrives on it.
Today Trump can’t find a top-flight lawyer willing to represent him because all the good lawyers know Trump always stiffs his legal teams. Imagine that being the reason why some other politician couldn’t get good legal representation. The press would flay them alive. But not Trump. The press barely even mentions it.
The only possible explanation I can find for why so many Americans love Donald Trump is because he gives them permission to hate. They love hate and Trump is the only hate merchant in town. So they will continue to defend and protest this toxic little man because he’s the only one who will openly join them in their disgusting pastime.
Trump Republicans today are composed of three kinds of liars. The Fox News drones who don’t know any better, those that should know better but refuse to see the truth, and the politicians who do know better but deliberately (and with Machiavellian precision) manipulate and treat their constituents like fools. That is the evil that faces us today. I think we can defeat them. 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.