There has been a lot of hand-wringing and wrinkled foreheads over conjectures about what we will do if another Donald Trump should become president. The narrative goes that it can’t happen because next time we will be better prepared. Next time another Trump won’t so easily fool us and we will not even so much as anoint him candidate, let alone president. So the answer to the question “can another Donald Trump become president” is a resounding “no,” or so the narrative goes.
But that’s the wrong question. The right question is, what are we going to do when a Republican becomes president of the United States again? Because the day that happens will be the day we have our second Trump. And the answer to the question, when is the next time we will have another Trump as candidate for president of the United States is equally easy to answer: 2024.
Trumpism has sealed the fate of the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. Theirs will not be another non-Trump candidate for a very long time. Our destiny isn’t to learn the lesson of history and move on, heave a sigh of relief and thank goodness we survived that one. Our destiny is to remain hyper-vigilant and super-circumspect against another Republican majority in Congress and, worst of all, another Republican presidency. Because both will happen should Republicans once again become ascendant.
We have passed the point of no return for the survival of America, brothers and sisters. America cannot survive another Republican administration. Period. The criminal Trumpian blueprint has been drawn and every subsequent Republican presidential candidate will follow that blueprint. He or she will follow it not only because they need to capture Trump’s base but because they will want to follow it, because they know it will work. They now know that the way of Trump is the royal road to power, and they clearly believe that it’s the only road open to them.
Think of it as a major flaw in your home security system that every burglar has learned about. Until we fix that flaw our homes will be in a constant state of clear and present danger. We must fix the breach in our security against Republican incursion if we want to save the United States of America.
Unfortunately the answer is long and dangerous and full of hazards. It will involve educating a new generation of Americans to reject the lies of conservatives. It will involve a fight as intense and perilous and unrelenting as the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. To rescue America from the depredations of Republicans we must all become activists, some of us once again, some of us for the first time, but we must all rise up and become actively politically engaged. Because the next time Republicans are in power they won’t relinquish that power quite so easily, or perhaps at all.
While it’s an absurd exercise to guess who will be the Republican candidate in 2024 and anyone who guesses right will be right by accident, when you stop and consider the available crop right now it is a deeply troubling one. From Greg Abbott to Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis to Josh Hawley, Mike Pence to Mike Pompeo, the list truly is a roll call of infamy. And they all share one thing in common: they are all smarter than Trump. They will steal his playbook and learn from its successes while avoiding his bumbling, obvious, idiotic ways. They will be more subtly and cunningly advised.
As long as money continues to play an active role in American politics, as long as ignorance remains a badge of honour, bigotry remains Republican policy and evangelicals hold sway, America will remain in danger of losing its soul to another Trump. Education, reform and patience are our best weapons against tyranny, complacency, infighting and discord our surest road to self-defeat. 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.