Although Trump’s term of office will end on January 20, 2021, his effect on American politics will linger. He might claim that he will be a candidate in 2024, but that will become untenable as his support wanes and the Republican party looks to others. Or, he might focus on his principal passion: pursuing profits from his properties and publicity platforms. Whatever he chooses, his loyalists will pine for him and cling to his self-serving fabricated alternative facts. They will reject his electoral loss and the science that keeps them safe from COVID-19, while voicing conspiracy theories and hostility toward leaders who opt for rationality, unity, empathy, and stability. Their anger will continue to be a caustic condiment on our political buffet.
When President-elect Biden places his hand on the bible on January 20th, he will immediately establish a judicious, compassionate, sensible tone for government and society that will begin the healing process. Since the Biden administration will not be ego-driven and our new president doesn’t have a Twitter fetish, daily news will become more consistent, calm, and rational.
In his book, Pitchfork Populism: Ten Political Forces That Shaped An Election and Continue to Change America, author Bradford Kane presciently foreshadowed these and other dynamics. Although published in 2019, the book anticipated the need to cleanse the detritus of Trump’s reign through new laws and standards to prevent its mendacities and malevolence from recurring. Kane recognized the five drivers of Trump’s personality – including his extreme narcissism and his quest for retribution – and warned of anti-democratic actions that Trump would attempt to avoid being recognized as a loser. The book also forecasted the ongoing political involvement of Trump’s devotees in the post-Trump era, despite their reduced role and the repudiation of their most anti-social impulses.
Trump’s anger is manifesting as rage, targeting whoever or whatever has opposed or disappointed him. In the final 40+ days until he must vacate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he will be on a continuous rampage seeking vengeance against perceived adversaries. Through authoritarian acts, he will try to debilitate institutions that restrained his malicious, anti-democratic aims, and to install his autocratic vision of a Trump-run world. The behaviors and impulses that Kane cited have recently been corroborated by psychologist Mary Trump, Ph.D. in her book.
In the post-Trump era, whether Trump escalates his dystopian tirades, fades from public view, or faces criminal charges, his followers will remain committed to him and his animosity against bedrock American values, principles, and institutions. Their numbers will diminish, yet they will seek retribution for Trump’s loss and urge their allies in Congress to obstruct progress. Some may still chant “build-the-wall” and issue demands for government money…but only to people like them, and not to the proverbial new people coming into their country.
In contrast, President-elect Biden’s complex, urgent policy priorities seek to serve and protect the entire electorate, advancing compassion, unity, justice, and opportunity for all. The Biden administration is very likely to expend great effort toward bipartisan solutions to stop COVID-19’s carnage and its economic pain, institute racial equity, mute the climate crisis, and solve immigration injustices.
Bradford Kane presents brilliant insights into the forces that led to the present situation, and assesses the path forward in the coming years for the country and world after Trump.