The degree to which about half the US electorate supported Donald Trump in this presidential election, following a steady stream of outrages over the past four years, is a sad testament to how small-minded a significant percentage of the American public remains. The partisan battle lines have only grown stronger and appear to be insurmountable, at least in the short term, as blue and red America seem perfectly content to lash out at each other in perpetuity. The Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they could see what America has become.
360˚ Context: The 2020 US Election Explained
I published an article in July 2016 stating that I believed that Donald Trump had narcissistic personality disorder, and tried to warn America what would be in store for it if we elected him president. Exactly four years ago, on the eve of the US presidential election, I wrote an article predicting that Trump would win. My view was based largely on the belief that Hillary Clinton’s intended “coronation” was premature, that she was a flawed candidate, and that Trump had succeeded in tapping into an important vein in American political culture — the neglected blue-collar voter. I published that article at 3:00 the morning after the election, one of the very first to have acknowledged the birth of Trumpism.
In that piece, I wrote:
“It is doubtful that Mr. Trump will be able to heal our terribly divided nation, which he so handily and successfully contributed to. Now that the battle lines are drawn — between those who cling to an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ vision of America, in which everyone is white, conservative, straight and Christian, and those who recognize and accept the multi-racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation of this great land — there is no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, certainly not with a leader hell bent on fanning tendencies toward divisiveness, rather than unity. While we are certainly not all going to be joining hands together and singing kumbaya, no matter who is president, we are not going to get there by having a Divider-in-Chief at the helm.”
We have seen the result of four years under his thumb. America has rarely been more partisan or divided. Those who yearned for an Ozzie-and-Harriet vision of America have become more emboldened four years later, apparently believing that America can once again become a bastion of white conservatism, replete with racism, bigotry and misogyny. That is unlikely to happen. America has become too diverse, and sufficient progress has been made toward equality to revert to that sad vision. The partisanship will surely only continue to get worse in the coming four years. The question is, can we ever return to a time when bipartisanship reigns?
It was of course just a generation ago when that was the norm. I’d like to believe that Joe Biden can take us some ways in that direction, but what will probably be required to return to that era is sustained leadership by someone who has not spent decades with their snout in the trough inside the Beltway. Biden is not that man, but neither are the majority of politicians in Congress who have made being a politician a way of life rather than a temporary service to their community, state or nation.
To achieve that, America will need a wholesale change in how it is governed in Washington, complete with cleaning house, term limits, mandatory accountability pledges and an end to special interests, lobbyists and corruption, among other things. There’s little chance that will be happening any time soon. It appears that we will have to settle for just heading down that road, which would be a victory in itself, knowing that America has saved itself from perhaps insurmountable damage of a second Trump term.
As for Trump, he will surely not be going quietly into the night. We can expect that he will challenge the results of the election for days and weeks, if not months, to come, his fragile ego refusing to acknowledge that he is the ultimate “loser.” While he toils and writhes in egomaniac agony, he will be planning his next act, which may be some combination of reality television or radio show, creation of a media empire or planning his own political comeback in 2024. Donald Trump has made an undeniable, indelible mark on the American political landscape, for better or worse, and his ego will not allow him to simply walk away as George W. Bush did.
As for his followers, surely they will not be changing their political stripes or beliefs any time soon, nor should they be expected to. From their perspective, they have found a political voice, so Trump will have a loyal legion of fans supporting him no matter what he decides to do. That ensures that America will be in for many more years of Trumpism, and his legacy will of course live on in the Supreme Court for decades.
America got the leader it deserved for the past four years, but for the first time since 1992, it has decided to reverse course after Trump has served a single term. Let us hope that Joe Biden can at least start down the road of healing this fractured nation and that whatever he is able to achieve in the coming four years serves as a useful counterpunch to Trumpism. While America can endure Donald Trump’s legacy bubbling beneath the surface, it cannot afford another four years of a Trump presidency. We have to believe that, having said no to another Trump term, America has decided that another four years of him is a price that is just too high to pay. The question is, will the answer be the same when Trump runs again in 2024?
*[Daniel Wagner is the author of “The Chinese Vortex: The Belt and Road Initiative and its Impact on the World.”]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.