What If America Doesn’t Recover From Trump?
With two-thirds of Republicans still believing that President Joe Biden’s election was fraudulent, the Republican Party faces what could prove to be an existential fork in the road. Does it double down on Trump and Trumpism at this juncture or does it reject his divisive legacy root and branch much the same way that McCarthyism ultimately was? The latter appears unlikely. Not only did Trump ensure that he has momentum as he exits the White House, but his most fervent supporters have promised to continue to rally around him and cause trouble well into the future. The lunatic fringe isn’t going anywhere.
Does anyone really think that the vast majority of Republican legislators who could not bring themselves to object to the attempted coup at the Capitol — or any of the other outrageous antics Trump has unleashed on America for the past four years — will suddenly experience sleepless nights and pangs of conscience now that he is gone? Au contraire. This band of spineless, morally bankrupt congresspeople and senators are far more likely to follow Trump and carry Trumpism into the 2024 presidential election.
That presents something of a dilemma for the Democratic Party, which seems to be far more inclined to believe that it can “turn” enough Republicans to vote Democrat next time to make a difference. Instead, we should expect an ongoing slugfest between the two parties for decades to come.
What has occurred over the past four years in the country’s political landscape is a transformation from simple political differences that prevented bipartisanship to a battle for cultural identity and the soul of America. That shining city on a hill has descended into Dante’s inferno — in a torrent of racist, bigoted, sexist, and xenophobic impulses among such a large segment of the population, that it could prevent the country from ever being what it was before.
A recent survey of Europeans revealed that the majority believe that America’s political system is hopelessly broken, that President Biden will be unable to halt its decline on the world stage, and that China will become the world’s leading power within a decade. What if they are right? America’s Trump-inspired death spiral has practically ensured any real recovery will likely take decades — and multiple terms with a Democratic president and Congress at the helm — to achieve.
The European view acknowledges the depths that America has sunk to and that, in the process, Trump has rolled out the red carpet for China to rise to great new heights on the global stage, which it has been doing particularly well over the past four years. It took generations of leadership to create America’s well-earned reputation as a beacon of freedom and liberty but just one presidential term to shred it.
America must now make a choice. Given how closely contested the 2020 presidential election was and that the Democrats have a razor-thin margin of a Congressional voting majority, it would be folly for the Democrats to believe that Trumpism is, or will soon be, buried. It could easily be the case that in four years, it is the Republicans — fully armed with Trumpists and QAnon radicals — who again take the legislative helm. Given that more than 70 million Americans voted for Trump after four years of his outrageous behavior, and given that he may not be constrained in his behavior in any way in the coming four years, the Democrats may have just four years to turn this ship around.
An important priority must be to repair America’s fractured alliances and to restore faith and hope in what America can and needs to be again. There is a better than even chance that the Democrats will fail at this task. If the Europeans are right, and if the Republicans take the mantle of power again in four years, America may lose its ability to recover. That would imply a host of bad things for the country and the world in the near future. A second Trump term in four years — or someone even worse — could return the world to a very dark period, reminiscent of the Nazi era. That is why President Biden and the Democrats must succeed.