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Trumpism and liberal denial

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Norm Eisen has co-authored a new book about Trumpism, which boils the phenomenon to seven key traits:

1. Disdain for ethics

2. Assault on the rule of law

3. Incessant lying and disinformation

4. Shamelessness

5. Pursuit of personal and political interest, not the public interest

6. Exploitation and exacerbation of division

7. Attack on democracy itself

In an op-ed, he and his co-author Colby Galliher describe how these characteristics appear in the personalities and campaigns of such mini-Trumps and senatorial candidates Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker.

All this is accurate as far as it goes, but then they end with this:

The American people resoundingly rejected Trumpery at the ballot box in 2020. As we explain in “Overcoming Trumpery,” that contest was in part a referendum on this corrupt style of governance. Trumpery is on the ballot again in 2022. Exposing that is an important part of clarifying the choice our nation faces.

This is just delusional.

First, there’s no way to “expose” Trump’s corrupt style of governance, because it’s all out in the open and always has been.

Trump voters come in two varieties: Religious fanatics who are impervious to facts, so trying to convince them of anything via empirical argument is a waste of time, and people who are fully or mostly aware that Trump is corrupt in all the ways Eisen and Galliher claim he is — notice how Trump distorts our very political language, as “claiming” Trump is completely corrupt is like “claiming” he grew up in New York — and who just don’t care. I have no good sense of what the relative percentages are between the two groups, other than a huge portion of Trump’s support comes from each of them respectively.

But the bigger delusion here is the NPR Totebagger claim that “the American people resoundingly rejected Trumpery at the ballot box in 2020.”

Trump got 11 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016. His percentage of the popular vote went up by a full point. He would have won the election if a few tens of thousands of ballots– out of 158 million — had been cast differently in three states. Claiming Biden won “resoundingly” is like arguing Trump won resoundingly in 2016. Both elections were coin flips, that could well have gone differently if they had been held a day earlier or later, or if the weather across the United States had been different than it was on election day, etc.

For comparison purposes, consider what the election would have looked like if it had gone like the just-concluded French presidential election. Biden would have won by 27 million votes and a nearly 3 to 2 margin. That would be a resounding rejection, although of course not nearly as resounding as the first time French voters had the opportunity to reject Marine Le Pen’s smiley face fascism.

Note too that Le Pen conceded the election within minutes after the preliminary results were first reported. Trump might lose the popular vote by 10 million in 2024, but he’ll never concede, because the idea that elections are rigged against Real Americans ™ is now so baked into our discourse that it can’t be dislodged — in no small part because our presidential elections are now practically certain to be very close as a pragmatic matter, because of unending anti-democratic nonsense of the absurd Electoral College.

The “American people” haven’t rejected Trump: to the contrary, slightly less than half of the voting public voted for him in both 2016 and 2020, and there’s not the slightest reason to think things will be any different in 2024. You can hope that coin comes up on the anti-fascist side two out of three times (assuming the refs don’t simply decide to ignore the flip altogether this time) but crying won’t help you and praying won’t do you no good.

And pretending that Trump and Trumpism doesn’t remain immensely popular in this country, especially in that Midwestern diner where all the Real Americans gather, doesn’t help. It only hurts.

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