I suspect that a lot of people have been getting through the last two and a half years by counting down the days until November 3, 2020, or January 20, 2021. I know I have: on some level I simply haven’t been able to actually contemplate the possibility of Trump’s re-election.
But that’s not, needless to say, a realistic attitude, even though it might be psychologically necessary.
It’s actually quite difficult to estimate what the odds are at this point of Trump being re-elected, given the inherent uncertainties surrounding the question. There are plenty of arguments in both directions in regard to how likely that is. (The sangfroid displayed in this discussion of the question on 538 suggests that a lot of people who should know better are still in denial about how desperate the situation has become. You would never guess the participants are discussing the odds of the end of America, as opposed to whether Golden State is going to threepeat or something).
What’s not in question is that they’re way too high, since they’re clearly very far from zero. What would the consequences of a second Trump term be?
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon said this week that if President Trump is reelected in 2020, the country is going to get “pure Trump off the chain.”
In comments to Politico, published in Playbook on Thursday, Bannon said that the president’s second term would be “four years of Donald Trump in payback mode.”
The “payback” would likely be in response to Democratic-led investigations into the president, special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe and negative media coverage, all of which Trump has derided as personal attacks throughout his first term.
This is if anything probably an understatement. Keep in mind that Trump’s obvious mental deterioration, with its attendant loss of impulse control, is likely to accelerate in his mid and late 70s (Trump would turn 75 four months into a second term).
Beyond that, the re-election of Trump would simply confirm in the minds of practically every Republican and crypto-Republican on the “left” that Trump represents some sort of unstoppable force in contemporary politics, and that everybody needs to jump onto the fascist ethno-nationalist bandwagon with enthusiastic abandon.
What are the practical consequences of this horrifying vista?
First, the attitude toward anyone who in any way abets the possibility of a Trump second term needs to be merciless. This will require significant personal sacrifice on the part of many of us in the opposition. In some cases, friendships, family relationships, and even marriages that are currently in some state of abeyance or uneasy detente will be destroyed permanently.
Second, a Trump re-election will mean the Republican party will have all but officially gone fascist. It and its membership will need to be treated accordingly.
Before we get to that desperate point, it’s critical to make sure everyone to the left of the fascists understand that, no matter how fractious and bitter the Democratic primary process will be, anyone who fails to support the eventual nominee, no matter who it is, should be treated as objectively pro-Trump, that is, as no better than the fascists who support him.
I realize this means coming to the conclusion that 40% of the country is going or has already gone fascist. But that’s our reality. We need to face it before it’s too late.