As the finale of the world’s most watched TV drama – the U.S. presidential election – draws closer, it seems increasingly likely that Donald Trump will lose. Or, as it was eloquently put to me a couple of days ago – ‘looks like a slam-dunk for Hill-dog’.
Yet, win or lose, Trump, who increasingly resembles the GOP’S problem child, will have a legacy that runs deep. Yesterday I actually heard someone proclaim- ‘Vote Donald, Hillary is a liar, at least Trump is true to himself.’ Ah yes, an unjust man being true to injustice, a bit like a less charismatic Voldemort, I suppose.
A man who insults women, homosexuals, lesbians, trans, Mexicans, refugees, veterans and well, just about anyone - that’s who I want as the next leader of the free world - A man who when given the keys to power will embed that injustice into the law, and fashion a mind-set reminiscent of Jim Crow.
It was a hopeless rallying cry: One that represents the dire situation ‘the Donald’ finds himself in. An argument with about as much logic ‘let them eat cakes’ and about as convincing as when Heinz tried to sell ‘EZ Squirt Funky Purple Ketchup’ - desperate.
But, if given the chance again, I would have stopped to confront him - the truth is, you don’t vote for Donald Trump because he’s true to himself, you vote for him because you like what he says – regardless of whether you know it to be true or not - it’s what you want to hear.
The demise of Trump is not due to a dramatic epiphany, where a large section of the voting population woke up and realised that building a wall along the Mexican border, banning Muslims from entering the U.S., throwing Hillary Clinton in jail and ignoring democracy if it doesn’t go his way, is – maybe – a bad idea.
Trump’s downfall came after a video was released in which he boasted about groping women, and, whilst an array of GOP leaders had denounced Trump before this revelation, by the end of the day nearly one-third of Republican senators and almost one-third of Republican governors had declared they would not vote for him. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and House Speaker Paul Ryan compounded this on Monday and announced they would no longer defend the nominee – it was friendly fire on such a scale, that not even Trump could deflect it.
It speaks volumes when xenophobia and racism aren’t enough to stop a person from becoming president - it takes a video of them gloating about sexual assault to end their candidacy. Yet, this tells us much about the post factual political world of Brexit and Trump that we live in today – lies rule over reason, and no one cares.
The last time the world witnessed post factual politics on such a scale, Adolf Hitler was elected. Comparisons between Hitler and Trump are unhelpful at best, but a comparison of their respective rises to popularity are telling - Just as the New York Times has torn apart Trump’s economic policies and fact checked his debate lines, so too did people when Hitler campaigned – but voters didn’t care, they wanted an exercise in grand, racist, hyperboles – and the same is true of today.
Yet, the demise of Donald Trump carries a harsh irony - what has essentially buried Trump’s candidacy may just have secured his legacy. It would be naive to think that Trump has magically created gratuitous racism amongst Americans - it was already there, in the shadows, but present nonetheless. What Trump and the rise of post factual politics has done, is legitimise fear of ‘the other’ – this vindicated xenophobia will not disappear, regardless of who gets the keys to the Oval office.
The downfall of Trump is not the same as the downfall of Trumpism: Stabbed in the back by his own party, whether he deserved it or not, is completely different to the dismissal of his agenda - an agenda that unites people in the rejection of others, and indeed reality - an agenda that, now legitimised, has just gotten going.