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Opinion Opinions | Trump will go, but Trumpism will remain

20:20  23 november  2020
20:20  23 november  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Donald Trump will no longer be president as of Jan. 20. But his party will remain in the grip of Trumpism, because those jockeying for dominance see it as the only way to succeed in the GOP today.

Donald Trump sitting on a bus: It's quiet on the road. He can think, or he can honk. © Melina Mara/The Washington Post It's quiet on the road. He can think, or he can honk.

Before we break down Trumpism into its component parts, the best way to begin may be with this:

Needless to say, the Republican Texas senator’s Thanksgiving will be safe from jackbooted government thugs tearing the drumstick from his hands. But his performative belligerence offers us a good entry into the elements of Trumpism that we’ll be forced to endure for some time to come:

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The belief that everything is a conspiracy. There have long been right-wing conspiracy theorists, but never before has conspiracy theorizing become so common in the GOP — and its politicians know it. The rank and file, having been fed a relentless diet of it for years, are convinced that dark cabals are controlling events, there are no coincidences and anything that doesn’t work out their way can only be the result of menacing forces conspiring against them.

Now that actual supporters of QAnon lunacy can be elected to Congress, the party’s elite will wink and nod to every conspiracy theory that comes along, from stolen elections to pandemic hoaxes to the machinations of the “deep state.” We’ll continue to see a vicious cycle in which politicians and the conservative media feed conspiracy theories to the Republican masses, who become ever more convinced they’re true, and therefore the politicians and media continue pandering to them with still more.

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The celebration of violence — when directed at liberals. Cruz guarding his turkey presents a dramatic fantasy in two equally absurd parts: First, that the government would try to keep him from having Thanksgiving, and, second, that when the agents arrive, he’ll engage them in battle.

The celebration of violence against those you hate has been a constant for Trump, from the 2016 campaign when he’d respond to protesters by saying things like “I’d like to punch him in the face,” to his praising of a Republican congressman (just elected governor of Montana) for assaulting a reporter, to his recent promotion of the extremist Proud Boys. Watch for it to continue from others, if perhaps not in such plain and vulgar forms.

Comical displays of faux-masculinity. You’ve seen those photoshopped pictures of Trump: His head might be plunked onto some romance novel cover model’s body, muscles rippling as he wields an AR-15 while riding on an eagle, or he might be Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky III.” Thus the obese septuagenarian who has never in his life displayed an instant of physical courage is transformed into a cartoonish version of manhood that lives in the dreams of teenage boys and the adults who are still teenage boys at heart.

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So it is that Cruz’s Thanksgiving becomes a battlefield on which the senator will teach trained agents of the state a lesson — except he’ll never have to. This anxious masculinity is a powerful force among the party’s base, and candidates who would faint at the sight of an actual fist raised against them will pose as manly men eager to engage in physical confrontation.

Endless whining about victimization. Every president has had to endure constant criticism — it comes with the job — but no president has whined about it as much as Trump. While it may be intensely personal for him, it’s also central to contemporary conservatism. They believe they are society’s victims, always on the run, always struggling under the bootheel of the government, of the culture, of the media (which, according to South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, is “planning to cancel Christmas”; oh that we had such power).

With a Democrat in the White House, this complaining will only intensify, since Republicans have no ability to distinguish between losing in a democracy — i.e., your opponents win an election and get to implement policies you don’t like for a while — and being the victim of tyranny and oppression.

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The irrelevance of policy. While Republicans know that many of their policies are unpopular, they also believe that if they really had the chance to explain them, everyone would agree that, say, cutting the wealthy’s taxes is a great idea. But Trump has taught them that policy is irrelevant. Trump voters didn’t rally to him because they felt economic anxiety, but because they felt cultural anxiety, the fear of being displaced in a changing country. He gave voice to their resentments, their nostalgia, their contempt for people who aren’t like them. And the outcomes didn’t matter; what mattered was channeling their feelings.

It’s all about Owning the Libs. This may be the absolute core of Trumpism: a politics defined not by what you want to change or the country you’d like to create, but by the people you hate. The way to elevate your profile and gain support is to troll your enemies, to antagonize them, to make them cry their liberal tears.

This just scratches the surface, of course — there’s also the realization that there’s nothing to fear from being caught lying if you’re shameless enough, the idea that no hyperbole is too ridiculous to feed to your supporters and the desire to define oneself through the petty squabbles one can start.

But as you watch Cruz defend his turkey, know that it’s an attempt at performative Trumpism. When you see Sen. Josh Hawley (son of a banker, graduate of Stanford and Yale Law) charge that it’s elitist to point out that he doesn’t have a home in Missouri, that’s Trumpism, too.

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And when the 2024 GOP contenders compete to see who can be the biggest jerk in the bunch — insulting their opponents, spewing hatred at Americans with different political views, telling voters to nurture their most toxic feelings — it will show that even if he’s just tweeting from the golf course at Mar-a-Lago, Trump will never have left.

Read more:

Paul Waldman: The Republican Party’s future: Being terrorized by its unhinged base

Greg Sargent: How Trump placed a ticking time bomb at the center of our system

Jennifer Rubin: Republicans created an anti-democratic mob

E.J. Dionne: Biden reaches out. The GOP slaps him in the face.

Garrett M. Graff: The chaos Trump is sowing threatens the Biden transition — and all Americans

If Trumpism survives Trump, it will be a political coalition, not an ideology .
One of the big questions on the table today is whether Trumpism will survive President Trump's time in the White House. The short answer is: maybe as a political force, but not as an ideology. In fact, when it comes to Trumpism as a set of policies or beliefs, I am inclined to quote Gertrude Stein, who said of her childhood home in Oakland, California, “There is no there there.” © Provided by Washington Examiner First, we must admit that there has been surprising political power to Trumpism. It came out of nowhere to take over the Republican Party and win the presidency in 2016, and it rallied over 73 million voters in defeat four years later.

usr: 0
This is interesting!