I mistrust facile and happy endings, not out of a morbid wish for enhanced excitement but from grim experience. I still recall the predictions of sober-faced pundits who said that Donald Trump wouldn’t make it through 2017 without being impeached and thrown out of office. I was told by sweeping proclamations that there was no way (absolutely no way!) that Trump and his followers would survive until the end of his first term.
While Trump did lose the election, he actually gained votes since 2016. That doesn’t strike me as a decline in popularity. The election was less than a year ago. The truth of the matter is nothing seems to kill Trump or Trumpism, not even the threat of miserable death.
I will not, in short, be joining the chorus of ding dongs singing “ding dong the witch is dead.” I’ll believe it when Trump drops entirely out of the news. Maybe. And just because he’s not mentioned in as many articles or tweets today as he was in, say, 2019, proves nothing. We still have one hell of a problem on our hands, and this is no time for a victory party.
It’s true that we won the California recall election and it was a referendum on many things. But it was principally a referendum on fanaticism, and it proved there are too many fanatics in California. What do you think that says about the rest of the United States?
A side by side comparison of color maps of California showing win/loss counties in the recall election next to a similar map showing Covid outbreaks makes an eloquent point that is being widely missed. The point being missed is that people — in California no less — are willing to die for Trump — literally — and if that doesn’t scare the crap out of you then I don’t know what will.
If millions of people are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families in order to avoid hurting the feelings of Donald Trump then they are extremely dangerous and, more to the point, Trump is still dangerous. I’m not even sure if Trump’s inevitable slow, existential suicide from drugs and junk food will solve the problem either. I seem to recall a recent twenty year observation of an anniversary of a day when fanatics flew planes into buildings in the name of an ignorant, superstitious, illiterate rug merchant who died in the 7th century.
We’re not out of this yet. Trumpism still infects and infests the Republican Party and much of America. This problem isn’t going to go away by decree, and you have to be naive in the extreme if you think it will go away overnight.
We are faced with a pandemic of ignorance, and we don’t have a vaccine for it nor will we solve it this year or next. Trump could still be a problem 20 years from now. We need to stop celebrating and keep organizing. We need to win, not just elections, but more hearts and more minds. 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.