How Will Trumpism Play Out?
Posted on May 8, 2017
Trump has nothing like the crafty intelligence of the fascist and reactionary dictators who seized power in Europe between the World Wars. He has no comprehensible ideology of his own to speak of. His popularity will never grow beyond the 40% who voted for him and stay loyal.
What he does have is a working alliance with the billionaires and, tentatively, with the majority of incumbents in Congress; the remnants of the movement conservative ideology he partly trashed; the radical right media; an emerging alliance between authoritarian bigots and computer hackers in Russia, the US, and Europe; and control of the top layer of the executive branch. How could these resources be used, and by whom?
In any case we should expect redoubled efforts to corrupt the voting systems and pack the judiciary with ideologues. We should also expect more direct efforts to attack the autonomy of the courts, especially but not only through renewed court stripping–i.e. laws limiting standing and access to sue. Trump also will continue to dismantle any non-violent functions of government he can get his hands on.
More worrisome is the possibility of an executive coup: a sudden terrorism crisis that leads to a crackdown on civil liberties that turns into a secret witchhunt against opponents and critics and then into a gradual descent into open authoritarianism.
The most likely bad outcome, however, is the normalization of the abnormal. It could become accepted practice to loot the government directly (rather than indirectly, as in the past); to conspire with foreign interests and governments; to thumb noses at press conferences and requests for information on what the government is doing; to execute blatant lawlessness in executive orders, except to the extent that some court has the backbone to stop one or another act of unfairness; to treat public lies and gibberish and anti-intellectualism as stated policy; to impose an utter disconnect between stated policy and actual practice. Oh, and to keep up a constant backdrop of demonization and bigotry mixed with denials and testaments of good intent. Meanwhile the mainstream press will learn to pretend there is some substance and good will behind all this–just as they always have in the past.