Trump may have lost at the ballot box, but his style of politics isn’t going away

By Richard Baker

ANOTHER Presidential election has passed in America with all the usual trimmings of bitter discourse, blinkered allegiance, and nasty, personal attacks.

The Democrat victory now signals an end to four years of Trump rule – but some believe Trumpism and his way of ‘doing politics’ will still continue to be present.

Natalie Zacek, senior lecturer of American Studies at the University of Manchester, however, believes Trumpism, as a series of ideas, has existed long before Trump’s accession.

She told Redaction Politics: “The ideas of Trumpism were already there. He brought them out, he encouraged them, he made them respectable.

“Many of the things he said, were things people said among like minded friends. But they now feel quite comfortable saying them publicly. People were embarrassed to say a lot of these things in public. 

“The desire not just to say, ‘I disagree with you’ or ‘I think you’re wrong’ now quickly devolves into name-calling argued by assertion.” This is, what she believes, the result of the combination between Trump and social media over the past decade. 

“Sadly, Trump capitalised on the fact that a lot of Americans don’t really want facts. They don’t want to make decisions based on, ‘Joe Biden says this, and Trump says that, so which do I think is more convincing?’. It’s now become very visceral,” she said. 

On the whipped-out turmoil surrounding the result, she said: “It’s made many Americans highly distrustful of the institutions that US Government have been based on for almost 250 years.

“Many Americans of different races and classes are now convinced that if they don’t get the result they want, then it could only be because of mass corruption in the deep state. Unfortunately, that [mentality] is going to continue.

“There’s a reason if you’re an American to be frightened of the future.”

The Trump apparatus seems to have been irreversibly branded into the Republican Party over these last four years, according to Professor Ian Scott, historian and commentor on US imagery and social matters. 

He told Redaction Politics: “Republicans at a national level have seemingly been so brainwashed and mesmerized and become so fearful indeed of Trump over the last four years, that, like lemmings, I’m not sure they know how to change their path.

“The problem is the Republicans have discovered they have a lot of voters who don’t give a hoot about intellectual conservatism. They care about guns, walls, statues and flags.”

With Trumpism burrowing itself into the GOP, the question, Dr Scott says is whether “this sets a new tone for politics. A somewhat reheated showbiz authoritarianism – or is there a way to reclaim, as some Republicans have hinted at, a politics of integrity and legitimacy?”

Painting a grim image of America, in the dawn of another corrosive election, he said: “If it weren’t for a few individuals in the last few weeks, American democracy could have failed. Electoral recounts and challenges in the courts would have overthrown legitimate results and the Electoral College numbers would have been reversed.” 

With Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the world waits eagerly to see if Trump will behave himself on the day or whether the man-child will return. 

“Its unlikely [he will concede gracefully], though Trump has a strange allegiance to tradition and US pomp and upsetting that somehow goes against whatever might be in his inner core. On January 21 he will say the election was stolen, the lawyers proved it, and we’re out to reclaim ‘our’ White House over the next four years.” 

Joe Biden now has a challenge to keep Trump relatively mute and in the shadows.

To stub out the intrusion of Trumpism over these last few years as he attempts to heal the nation after over 290,000 of its citizens lay dead from a virus Donald Trump reluctantly recognised or respected. 

“Biden has good people around him, ones who won’t allow the train to go off the rails and be diverted by its mission to solve the biggest health crisis in the country’s history and its biggest loss of face since the wretched retreat from Vietnam.

“But another messiah will come along to stir up American fears and prejudices because, despite its proclamation, it can be a very, conservative country and society.

“The favourite to be candidate in 2024 is Donald Trump”, he added. 

Dr Natalie Zacek is senior lecturer of American Studies at the University of Manchester 

Professor Ian Scott is professor of American Film and History at the University of Manchester. He is a frequent contributor to documentaries and films about US imagery and its peoples. 

Featured Image: Gage Skidmore @Flickr

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