No, its not what you think.
So let me get one thing clear right now. Donald Trump is a fascist who tried to steal power by subverting what’s supposed to be a mundane transfer of power from one President to another.
But he’s worse than that.
His entire ‘governing’ legacy is tragic story of the absurd.
Far from being the voice of the little guy, the candidate to ‘drain the swamp’; Donald Trump was solely the voice of himself and his cabal of insiders – most of all his family. Donald Trump is the swamp he campaigned against in 2016.
His campaign was right out of Mein Kampf, playing group against group in 2016. His skillful use of racist dog-whistle politics gathered a coalition of hate around him that in the strategic concentrations where they voted – flipped electoral math on its head.
Donald Trump brought together a disgruntled and poor voting block (who have real economic grievances) along side those whose cultural hatreds towards hispanic peoples and blacks were in large enough numbers that when pooled with traditional conservative voters of the Republican Party were enough to win the election.
That’s the simple version of how he got into office in the first place.
How he governed as the 45th President will be a fascinating tale told in court rooms as he is held to account for his crimes against America; and there are many.
But what I appreciate about Trump – in the most sincere way – is that he and his movement are defined by the hooligans, thugs and terrorists that tried to violently overthrow the US government to stop President-Elect Biden from being certified as the winner of a landslide election that he won fairly. It wasn’t close.
Trump and his ilk took issue with math itself; failed to understand the laws and the constitution, and violated the law and order narrative told by his party for the last 60 years.
Trump and his terrorists launched an attack on the capitol that can only be rivalled by actions taken by the old Confederacy in the US Civil War – a secessionist regime which split from America in its quest to defend its ‘states right’ to maintain slavery. That is quite the company to keep.
And there has to be a reckoning. There was the Nuremburg Trials after the last world war that held former Nazi regime officials, party officials, SS officials for their actions and crimes against humanity. So there must be a great accountability for the Trump regime and those who profited from his ‘leadership’.
Will the Republicans learn? Hard to say. Every time they lose an election, they resolve to take their party further right because they feel it didn’t act or campaign conservative enough.
After Jimmy Carter won the Whitehouse in 1976, Republicans went far right and teamed up with Christian Conservatives to gain the votes needed to win in 1980 under Reagan. When that coalition fell apart in 1992, they regrouped and went further right in 2000 with neo-conservatives under George W. Bush. When Barack Obama won the Whitehouse in 2008, the Republicans went yet further into the right wing fringe with the Tea Party movement.
And then Donald Trump launched his campaign in 2016 with his famous racist speech attacking Mexicans. Finally, the Republicans tapped into the last vestige of crazy right wing voters.
How much further right will the Republican party go before they fall off the edge. Will this be a test for the American right. Its happened before when a major party found itself in an existential crisis; the old “Whig Party” who served up several Presidents prior to 1860 blew apart in favour of the Democratic/Republican tilt. Internally, the Democratic Party who used to be the racist, rural party that gave safe haven to KKK leaning folks found its spine and under President Johnson signed the voter rights act.
The Republican Party as drifted so far to the right that it would have rejected candidates like Reagan or Eisenhower or Bush. Its fallen off the cliff of what is reasonably expected of parties that exist within a democratic, liberty loving country.
They embraced fascism.
Worse, the darkest elements of Christian Nationalism (who are the core of the white-supremacist movement) rose to high positions in the ‘MAGA’ world. To them, Donald Trump was Jesus…and a whole lot of evangelic leaders followed along with that misguided idea. That the most corrupt, conflicted, greedy and self absorbed political figurehead (Trump) was the symbol of the onset of the final days and the Biblically foretold tribulation.
No. Trump is a fraud there too.
Substantially, Joe Biden is far more pious and religiously aligned than Trump. BY A LONG SHOT. It was a permission structure that opened the potential of a small segment of Trump-hostile Republicans to vote Biden – who might have stayed home otherwise. Why certain evangelicals stuck with Trump is beyond reason – even in any biblical sense.
So much for ‘render unto Caesar what is his’, etc (Mark 12:17).
Evangelical Christianity has now defined itself as a political movement that is intolerant, undemocratic and hyper-judgmental. Ask any one of them and they’ll tell you that only their brand of Christianity is the truth and the light – any only their interpretation of the Bible is valid; they installed themselves as the gatekeeper of heaven.
That’s not faith or religion. That’s a cult.
That’s not the Jesus I’ve known. But then again. These folks have made Donald Trump into the messiah. The fact that he wasn’t supported by a majority of voters and lost an election to Biden is the square peg that didn’t fit into their round hole. They weren’t prepared to accept this as a possibility; so they – with Trump, called the election a fraud and took sides with the terrorists’ that tried to overthrow the US government on January 6.
Now that every legal avenue to dispute the election result is exhausted – and a total lack of evidence to the contrary, no electoral fraud – it was a free and fair election, some still align with Trump and the mythology of the stolen election.
The damage of Trump and his ‘evangelical’ base to American democracy will heal in time; but not before a full accounting and appropriate justice is rendered. What happens next is that the Republican Party might fold and a new conservative, coherent party may rise in its wake.
But what I appreciate about Trump is that he ripped the scab off and exposed parts of American society that are infected with the poison of hatred and that is the first step towards healing.
Trump is a terrible person who is rotten to the core. But further judgement on his character and/or legal misdeeds will be up to the justice system. For the rest of us, we’ll interpret the Trump legacy for what it is; a blight on humanity for all that it represents and hopefully the turning point to return to better days ahead.