Thursday, January 21, 2021

Is He Really Gone?


"But the same pathologies that abetted Trump’s political rise, animated his followers and became hallmarks of his turbulent single term have now, in the twilight of his presidency, left him a man diminished."

Is that true? Is Donald J. Trump "diminished"? What about his mob of  insurrectionists? Are they diminished? Are they even embarrassed?

The Federal prosecution of members of the mob might take some of the starch out -- one arrested in Kernersville yesterday, the first North Carolinian taken in on Federal charges; also the uncovering of actual conspiracies coordinating the presence of militia members with "combat techniques" taught by members of the US military. The FBI's knocking on doors all over the nation may sap some of that vim for putting yourself on Facebook while ransacking the seat of constitutional government. Prosecution of federal conspiracy charges -- Jeez. As Dr. Samuel Johnson is famous for saying, “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” 

The anger behind that mob -- a reaction to perceived victimhood -- ain't diminishing. It's probably just going into hiding -- with the FBI on the hunt -- going underground to fester, resupply, and snipe. Or, on the other hand, it's going into the sick ward. In a Marist poll, only 39% of Trump voters said they would get a COVID vaccine. Thinning the herd via pandemic seems like the ultimate cult devotion.

Trump himself gets it that the Republican Party is done with him, so he intends to be done with them first. The Wall Street Journal got the story yesterday that Trump had spoken out loud the bright idea of starting a brand-new political party, "and we'll call it The Patriot Party." Who didn't show up to see him off at Joint Base Andrews early yesterday morning? None of the Republican Party grandees, McConnell, McCarthy, even Pence wasn't there, and McConnell is sounding more and more like a vengeful man who intends to leave the bark on.

"It is unclear whether such an effort at a new party would involve the recruitment and running of candidates or serve as a media and merchandise empire for the former president." We're betting the latter. Third parties often start off with a bang and then fizzle. There would certainly be a bang for the Patriot Party, fer sure, with an equally and opposite debilitating impact on the GOP, but unless Tramp himself -- or a Trump -- is on the ballot, not sure this movement, based on resentment, has staying power.

My number one question in watching Trump helicopter into retirement: What sort of factor will he be in elections going forward -- if any -- and how durable is the "Trump effect" that foiled Democratic ambitions last November, if Trump isn't on the ballot?

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