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Defining Trumpism for the Ages; A Cancer That has Now Fully Metastasized Within the GOP

Much as "McCarthyism" symbolizes political opportunism built on the fear of Soviet expansionism in the early 1950s, many historians and political scientists will use "Trumpism" to define the angst of white Americans concerning their place in an increasingly diverse nation in which blacks, Latinos, and Asians seek greater opportunity and more representation. Former President Donald Trump understood that some whites fear that they are engaged in a zero-sum game in which they can only remain dominant by holding others back.

McCarthyism and Trumpism are much more complex than that, but that's the nature of symbols; they capture a whole basket of ideas simply. But, sometimes that obscures important nuance and that's certainly true with Trumpism. Yes, it is about white working-class angst, but it's also about capturing a bundle of grudges, fears, and resentments harbored by folks raised on a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. At its core, Trumpism is about all the things his followers loathe about a changing America, globalism, gender equality, environmentalism, the wonderfully amorphous "elite," wokeness, and progressive social justice initiatives.

Many authors have noted that the former President never really had a policy agenda of action items and Republicans didn't even bother to write a 2020 election platform. Former Trump National Security Advisor, John Bolton disputes that Trumpism even exists in any meaningful philosophical sense; "the man does not have a philosophy. And people can try and draw lines between the dots of his decisions. They will fail."

The reason is simple; Trumpism is about being against things [government, diversity, secularism, political correctness, science], rather than for things. And, more importantly, within the modern Republican coalition, it's just too hard to get evangelicals, libertarians, Ozzie and Harriet Boomers, free-traders, and the GOP's rainbow assortment of foreign policy hawks and doves on board with the same policies. Beyond tax cuts are good [always an easy sell], environmental regulations are bad, and the poor are unworthy of assistance, they can't agree on anything. That's why Trump never accomplished much even when he had a majority in both houses of congress.

The Atlantic: "Recall that Trump’s 2016 campaign was full of punchy lines: balancing the budget, repealing the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with a forever-TBD universal health plan, reshoring manufacturing, ending the trade deficit, building a beautiful border wall, making America great again. Trump made none of that happen, aside from a few miles of expensive fence."

Today Trumpism has fully metastasized within the Republican Party and you can see the former President's influence across the nation as the 2022 mid-term elections approach. Some GOP candidates are attempting to put a bit of distance between themselves and Trump's stolen election nonsense, but in states with competitive House and Senate primaries, few candidates are brave enough to reject the former President's delusional conspiracy theories.

Washington Post: "While most of these campaigns are in their early stages, the embrace of Trump’s claims is already widespread on the trail and in candidates’ messages to voters. The trend provides fresh evidence of Trump’s continued grip on the GOP, reflecting how a movement inspired by his claims and centered on overturning a democratic election has gained currency in the party since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack."

Nowhere is that more evident than Ohio where Senate candidates author J.D. Vance and state treasurer Josh Mandel have humiliated themselves to capture the Trump vote.

New York Times: Mr. Mandel has burned protective masks and blamed the “deep state” for the pandemic and has claimed that former President Barack Obama runs the current White House. He has rejected the separation of church and state and said that he wants to “shut down government schools and put schools in churches and synagogues.” The grandson of Holocaust survivors who were aided by resettlement organizations, he has compared a federal vaccine-or-testing mandate to the actions of the Gestapo, and today’s Afghan refugees to “alligators.”
New York Times: "Now championing the hard-right messages that animate the Make America Great Again base, Mr. Vance has deleted inconvenient tweets, renounced his old views about immigration and trade, and gone from a regular guest on CNN to a regular on “Tucker Carlson,” echoing the Fox News host’s racially charged insults of immigrants as “dirty.”

Looking forward to 2024, Trumpism will still be the dominant force within the GOP whether or not Trump runs.

The Week: "Even in the unlikely event Trump goes away, though, it's clear that Trumpism is here to stay. You can see it in how the House GOP enforces lockstep loyalty to the party's leader, in how lower-tier Republican candidates are quick to make spurious charges of election fraud in campaigns they lose, in the party's revamping of the election process in red states, in the prominence of fringe figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and perhaps most clearly in the race-to-the-bottom antics of Senate candidates Josh Mandel and J.D. Vance in Ohio. There are still a few Republicans who believe that a post-Trump moment is coming, that their party will find its way back to some kind of normalcy. It's more likely Trumpism is the GOP's new normal."

If the former President decides not to run, the clown car assortment of clones who will seek the presidency in 2024 such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley won't toe far from the MAGA line, falling over each other to prove they are the Trumpiest successor. And, each will have learned that Trump's base wants lots of red meat [immigrant, big tech, China, and trans-bashing], simplistic, child-like solutions to complex issues ["clean" coal], and more election restrictions so only the "right" Americans vote.


By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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