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How Trumpism Dies.

Weighing what it will look like for the Trumpist movement to end.

There are several ways that Trumpism may die. It may die quickly.

The quick death of Trumpism relies upon some major defeat or otherwise loss of momentum or coherency (of the movement; it has never been coherent in policy or otherwise). A crushing 2020 election, or a sudden reversal of support from the business world, an economic fall, or a major and striking policy blunder, domestic or foreign.

Some of the above features exist in fetal form. The weighing strains upon the farming communities, the lack of planning or strategy in foreign matters, the aging growth cycle with many signs of distress, the historic low approval ratings for the party leader. . .

In the quick death scenario, the result hearkens back to the latter days of George W. Bush’s second term, whereupon the public generally was tired of him (even before the economy faltered in earnest). The people are simply not in the mood to entertain the president further, at that point, and they are merely tolerant of his continuance to the end of his term. In this case, a majority have been weary from the get-go, so the death relies on removal of the life-support system that is the Trumpist base.

The fulcrum of Trumpism is Trump the myth or man. There are occasional rumblings of certain factions of his base that he’s not enough of a hard-ass on whatever issue. But they don’t break through any more than the normal, mainstream criticisms. The majority of Trump supporters aren’t supporting a policy. They are merely supporting the face.

Trump is a shiny object, as-seen-on-TV. He’s a catchy tune. Trump is retro, man. He took the old shtick of the bygone politicians of early ages and repackaged them for the modern rube. He’s a hula hoop. Back during that craze, if people found out that those hoops were somehow undermining democracy, do you really think that people who fell for the gimmick would have stopped swinging their torsos? Hell no. You’d have to pry them from their cold, dead hips.

Er. . . But, taken hypothetically that Trumpism dodges all of those factors and there is not a quick death. Trump is reelected for a second bite at the apple that he does not deserve, his first one having already revealed the rot not in the fruit but in the man biting it. The quick death scenario is forestalled but only temporarily. It is still a perfectly plausible event to occur after the postponement.

Indeed, the idea of Trumpism surviving Trump would be contrary to the modern habit of our politics, in which each new quadrennial election brings a revision of one or both major parties. So the question of survival beyond a quick death practically reverses the question. What would it take for Trumpism to survive beyond Trump?

For one, it would require coherence. There would have to be more than a madman’s tweets to sustain it beyond the end of Trump’s tenure. There would have to be adherents who understand that underlying policy and are prepared to defend it, rather than merely covering for their bumbling and cantankerous leader. The weight would have to transfer to a new fulcrum and away from Trump himself. Which makes it all the less likely, as they do not have enough coordination in the organizations at work that can develop such a policy background. And even if they did, Trump would never stand to be anything but the center of gravity of his weird little world.

Short of that transference, there would need be an heir-apparent, some personality akin to Trump that would be available to take up the chicken bucket. Thus far, there are a number of celebrity figures of that dungeon of the political and entertainment world, but none have shown the kind of appeal that Trump has. Which, I admit, gives Trump a certain amount of credit for being better than most at a certain kind of act.

Trump developed his celebrity rich kid status over decades, and he spent all of that credit to get where he is today. Even if he gave another the Trump endorsement, could somehow stand to let the spotlight shift, it’s not clear it would do them much good without the very particular set of attributes that allowed fools to latch onto Trump.

More likely is the kind of schism seen in major religions and countries that do not hold elections—a war of succession. And that is the second way that Trumpism may die. It may happen even if the death is quick, and it may be among the reasons that all the Republicans are sticking to Trump—they want to be ready to pick sides in the aftermath, not losing any positioning.

But schisms are generally reserved for when the resulting factions are the only options. In a Trumpist schism, there would still be some kind of regular Republican party, there would be the Democrats, plus at least two Trumpists trying to claim the chicken buckets mantle. And while Trump could try to rally the followers to one of them, he’s likely to fail. He will no longer be the magic-maker for those fools, and they will have their own opinions of who the new one should be.

(But I really don’t see Trump handing over the chicken bucket. Maybe for the right price, but even then he’s known to do a slack job and to be ready to slander those whom he ostensibly seeks to boost (see several examples in Republican candidates he endorsed in special elections since 2016).)

Trumpism will die, I have no doubt, because it is entirely propped up by Trump. The followers don’t really have any belief beyond liking Trump. There’s nothing to keep it going now that the scam has gotten him paid, and even if he wanted to, he won’t have an endgame other than selling straws and dreck (but maybe he gets to put his name on a tall building in Moscow, Russian Federation).

On the other hand, many of the ideas that Trump employs, which are not Trumpism but rebranded constructs of the Republican party, will not die so swiftly. They will only be solved when all people feel secure, that they will have a place in society and an equal status independent of their employment or other acquired characteristics. That day is yet to be scheduled, but one supposes it will come.

Association of Alternate Realities

Musings on change in the face of broken institutions.

How useful are political movements? Should we need them at all, if the so-called system worked? We would be taking substantial action on climate change, for example (aside: a useful analog to climate change is to think of discovering an asteroid was going to hit the earth in 100 years; we’d take action, hard and fast (and even then, there would be some denying the existence of the asteroid, its trajectory, etc.)). But the system is broken, badly. As such, it will likely take a movement to get the badly needed action.

What if the system worked? Would we still need movements? Take the idea of a union for CEOs (i.e., a union for those whom the system already works). Call it United Federation of Overseers or the UFO. Would the UFO ever need to exist? Would it negotiate for the golden parachutes (often mistaken for UFOs) and chair-throwing quotas (ditto)?

Some such organizations do exist. Some are social clubs, which provide networking opportunities. Others may promote continuing education. And some exist to promote more broken laws. One such organization is ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is devoted to “Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism.” Yet the result of their effort could be better described as “Wealth Concentration, Closed Markets, Oligarchy.”

The other big name in organizations by, of, and for those whom the system works is called the United States Congress. Founded in 1789, it has a lengthy history of promoting a broken system. It has, on occasion, deviated from that charter, but it has seen a revival in the past 20 years. It is the golden age of dysfunctional politics.

Even if the system worked, we might still need movements to bring attention. Say we found out that American Football was concussing the daylights out of its players. If the system worked, would we still need to have a movement to fix that? Or would the concern naturally bubble up to the league heads and they would step in immediately?

American Football had this problem before. In 1905, legend has it, a total of 19 souls were dispatched to the beyond from the gridiron. Talk about playing your heart out (insert the old fogey rap about how easy people have it today). It came to the national attention and over the subsequent decade a number of reforms were adopted.

On the other hand, we have groups like the Envelope Manufacturers Association pushing the government to keep so-called paper options around in the digital age. They did so under the guise of a group called “Consumers for Paper Options.” We have groups lobbying to keep their business thriving in an age when we don’t necessarily need it.

Paul Ryan made his annual pilgrimage to the photocopier to deliver his redundant, ridiculous budget once more. Maybe he needs a grassroots campaign for the passage of his master plan. Alas, not even ALEC and the NRA have the sort of funds needed to pull that much wool over the eyes of the people. (Or maybe the whole annual futile budget effort is the result of lobbying efforts by Big Paper.)

But it still gets media coverage. Akin to covering a cult group that believes the world will end tomorrow (literally, they believe that the world ends when time breaks and we move from the eternal today into the always-future tomorrow). So we have two broken institutions: the government and the media. And we have association media, activist media, organizational media, to try to influence and supplement the mainstream media.

At some point we have the full makings of alternate realities. Some in the deeper religious and political niches have already collected their whole set. The wealthy have an easier time of burrowing into another reality, with all the Yes men telling them, “of course that’s true sir, but only because you say so.”

But, at some other point, we will see an Alliance of Actual Reality, a Voltron-style amalgamation of environmentalists, prison reformers, etc. Then it will be Monster versus Robot, Godzilla style (or if you’re too young, Pacific Rim style). The AAR will put down the invaders from the alternate realities (represented by the Association for Alternate Realities, also called the AAR, but with the accent on the second A). At some point.

But then, as the dust settles, we will realize that we were fighting ourselves, again. That we were really fighting our own ignorance, the only enemy we really have.

Yea, the rich will be poor; the old young; the many will count themselves few. If we could do that without all the stupid fighting to try to salvage things like the fossil fuel industry or the buggy-whip industry, we would be very much better off.