Saturday, November 14, 2020

Trump Lost: Now What?

Joe Biden won the 2020 United States Presidential Election. There's no question about that. There is only a question by how much of a win Biden will have when all of the certifications are complete. At this point in time it looks as if Biden will beat Trump in the Electoral College by 306-232. 

The solid South cracked, with Biden winning Georgia. Biden restored the Great Lakes Blue Wall, winning Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota and throwing in Pennsylvania for good measure. More ominously from a Republican point of view, Arizona and Nevada also went for Biden. This may have been in part because of former Californians moving to those states and voting for Biden. 

In a normal time the current President would acknowledge that he lost and, even if through gritted teeth, congratulate the President-Elect and urge the various executive branch appointees and career bureaucrats to work with the incoming Administration point persons to ensure a smooth transition.

Trump of course has done nothing of the sort. What he has done is file a cavalcade of lawsuits, most of which have gone nowhere. Trump voters and sycophants are taking their cues from him. 

The far right had a dream: That one day, people who had been exiled to the unacceptable margins of American political life could play the role of Donald Trump's brownshirts.

In the weeks leading up to the election, excitement was rising among those Americans who convinced themselves that Trump would be the glorious leader in a national purge of their perceived enemies. QAnon fans buzzed with excitement that "the storm" — their term for their belief that the entire Democratic establishment, as well as many popular celebrities, would be rounded up into prison camps — was coming soon. 
The Proud Boys, a neofascist group that claim to defend "Western civilization," were also riled up after Trump told them to "stand by" during a presidential debate in September. The menagerie of white supremacists and militia groups were stepping up recruitment efforts, stoked about what they believed would soon be the eruption of a new civil war. Then came the election. Trump lost. This has been very difficult for those people to accept. 

People with fanatical and delusional beliefs famously don't give them up just because they've been hit over the head with reality, of course. The various subcultures of crackpots that have sprung up under Trump are no exception.
The right-wing fringe has been enormously successful in recruiting conservatives to their way of thinking. Surveys suggest that more than 80% of Trump voters believe Joe Biden's victory was illegitimate, and about half of all Republican voters buy into the QAnon conspiracy theories to some degree. What were once whacked-out "far-right" beliefs are now just mainstream conservatism.

But such people never really go away. They'll find some other cause to latch onto, some other justification for their fascist impulses. Some, unfortunately, will continue to seek violence or even to commit acts of terrorism.
But for now, Trump's defeat is a mighty blow to the far right. Their dreams of crushing the people they view as "the left" and of "reclaiming" the culture of America were always ludicrous, no matter how much tear gas Trump sprayed at Black Lives Matter demonstrators. But now, with Trump on his way to Palm Beach exile, they've lost their lodestar. 
I have spent a lot of time over the days since the election listening to, reading, or viewing conservative media. Some of that was obviously schadenfreude. 
But because I have a bias towards facts, I wanted to know how conservatives processed Trump's loss. Well they didn't admit he lost. 
Many conservative media thought leaders argued without any evidence that "THEY" stole the election. Some conservatives online boasted about how many guns they had and what they intended to do to liberals. They made up and reshared blatantly apparent lies about people throwing out Trump ballots or intimidating Trump voters or bringing in fake ballots and post-dating them. In short their assumption was that elections don't count unless they win. As several people have pointed out that's not a recipe for a nation staying together. I think it springs from seeing the other side as not just wrong or misguided, but evil. 
In the same way as Democrats had to learn to both stimulate the base AND reach out to people who might not agree with every last thing the most left leaning Democrat might think, Republicans must learn that their Southern strategy of maximizing white nationalism and running up the score in the South has reached its limits. The South is changing demographically. The Republican Party will need to rebuild itself in the Northeast and West. Trump did improve his percentages among minorities, which shows that there is a hunger for something different and an across the board interest in economic nationalism. More on this later perhaps.   
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