I know many people will hate the title of this column because they can’t think of anything positive about the fact that Donald Trump was elected President. I understand that, and ask you to bare with me as I explain why I think four years of Trump will ultimately be seen as a good thing. (No more than four, though! We can’t afford more!)
My last birthday, I turned 62, since I was born in 1958. My first electoral experience came with working on he campaign for a dinosaur-like politician; a liberal Republican. That was in 1972. Later that year, I also did some phone work for the McGovern campaign, which is still the worst political campaign I have ever worked on; it was as if the people running it didn’t care about winning; they seemed perfectly satisfied with a hardcore white liberal running for president at the head of a major party.
Little did I know, it would get worse. In 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter won the nomination and many of those white liberals who were in love with the right-thinking-but-terrible campaigner McGovern refused to ever accept Carter as p[resident, even though he was unapologetically liberal in his policy choices. In 1980, the same McGovern-loving white liberals withheld their support for a second Carter term. In the primary, they supported Ted Kennedy, even though Kennedy himself couldn’t explain why he was running, when asked. Carter won the nomination, but the unicorn progressives who supported Kennedy refused to support Carter in the General Election.
That stupid move, among others, ushered in the neocon era of American politics, which started when St. Ronald of Reagan was elected president. As I said, that was just the beginning, and the situation has gotten progressively (pun intended) worse since, primarily because white liberals kept chasing veritable windmills in every election and kept acting as if they knew/know more about politics than anyone else, even as they consistently worked against the American people, especially the Black and brown ones.
You see, Donald Trump is the culmination of a combination of two things; one is the Republican Party’s quest to win every election by appealing to everyone the Democratic Party left behind by embracing civil rights. In other words, where the KKK-style politicians and the Jhn Birch Society racists were once a Democratic Party staple, they were being welcomed into the GOP, as a way to prevent anther 1964-style electoral massacre.
The second thing was the white unicorn progressives abandoning all political power, in a mind-numbing declaration that only their version of liberal was the “right” one. Since 1980, liberals have largely been toothless, politically, culmination in electing unqualified morons like George W. Bush in 2000, for the sake of non-politician Ralph Nader, thus denying the perfectly capable Al Gore the White House, and ultimately, giving us the worst president we will hopefully ever elect; Donald J. Trump, over the highly qualified Hillary Clinton in 2016. Unicorn progressives earned a lion’s share of the responsibility for that electoral fuck-up, that’s for sure.
On the other hand, Trump has been so bad, even a lot of unicorn progressives have decided to put away their “know-it-all” bullshit and have finally embraced the reality that the Democratic Party is the only group of voters who can oust Donald Trump and spell the end of his excesses. And that is one of the positives that has come out of the otherwise dreadful Trump years.
I was with everyone else who felt like I had been kicked in the gut on November 8, 2016. In my 44 years in electoral politics, I had not been this depressed, even when the lure of Ralph Nader took a near-certain progressive victory to a defeat to a stiff like George W, Bush – twice. Donald J. Trump was and is so clearly unfit to lead America, it was difficult to imagine anything good coming of it.
Thankfully, however, I was partly wrong, and it started the day after Trump’s pathetic inaugural, which seemed to trigger something I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid. The turnout for the inauguration was so pathetic, Trump has continued to claim his crowd was huge, in part because it showed that American voters knew almost immediately that they’d allowed a huge mistake to be made. Then, the very next day, where was the Women’s March, which put Trump on notice that women were not going to stand fr his misogynistic bullshit.
These days, I think differently. Yes, he and his cronies are the worst thing to happen to our government in our 244-year history, but they seem top have awakened something we’ve been missing in our politics for some time. This is because Trump and his childish political myopia represents everything that has been wrong with this country for a very long time; at least 400 years, which is how long ago we started buying and selling humans in slavery. Think about it for a second; up until Trump, we always expected “someone else” to mend the social contract we supposedly agreed to in 1776, when we sent the Declaration of Independence to King George and made a statement that “all (people) are created equal.” Even by 1787, when we ratified a Constitution, we had pretty much forgotten that, endorsing an electoral college that reflected the wishes of the slave-driven Southern states and a lack of trust of democracy of every form.
Trump wants to perpetuate that broken social contract because he thinks that will help him win. Fortunately for the Americans who want the country to be what it has always purported to be, Trump seems to have become both a mirror image of the worst we can be and also a catalyst for the change we need. Compare the reaction to Trump’s declaration that the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville were “good people” with the reaction to his failure to acknowledge the murder of George Floyd, except in the context of “thugs” and “criminals.” As little as a year ago, Trump’s crass dismissals of athletes who kneel during the National Anthem was largely met with agreement, not the “Black Lives Matter” movement is now moving forward at lightning speed. Instead of sports teams complaining about athletes who kneel, athletes are now encouraged to kneel. And we all have the silliness of Donald J. Trump to thank for it.
Face it; our politics has been ambling along without motivation for a generation, and Donald J. Trump has been so bad, he seems to have been the spark our democracy needed to wake up and get shit done. Face it; the Trump Cult is like the coronavirus and it is the spread of COVID-19 that is leading to a swift vaccine. Perhaps this time, we can go all the way with the American people and create a government that is actually “of the people, by the people, and for the people” for the first time, as we have always envisioned. That means all people, not just those with white privilege.
A lot will have to be done, of course. We are still living the Civil War, almost 160 years later, as we melt down the thousands of reminders we built for ourselves as a way to “stick it to the Black and Brown people” and show them that we white people are still in charge. However, we should be able to use the absolute awfulness of the Trump Regime to scare a lot more Americans into the ideals we always used to claim to hold dear.
Under GOP rule since 1980, we have become a whiter, more stratified country than ever before, and that’s no small feat. Instead of welcoming immigrants to our shores and showing them how to have a better life, our reaction to Trump may mean we’ll be able to treat everyone as equals. No promises, of course, but the opportunity is there, as a reaction to Trump. For the first time ever, “Black Lives Matter” is now mainstream. Women in power is quickly becoming mainstream, and there are signs that their handle on power may be permanent this time. For the first time in my memory, anti-choice seems to be on the ropes, and gay people are being accepted like never before. A lot of this happened before Donald Trump was permitted to impose on our government, but the Trump Impact seems top be speeding up the process somewhat.
Over the past generation, the Republican Party has essentially given up even trying to govern; they, like Trump, are only interested in power. They seem to have more regard for Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un than for the presidency of Barack Obama, and they seem intent on turning the federal presidency into something of a dictatorship. Like I said, we have a lot to overcome. But Trump may be providing the spark we need to get a lot oof it done.
That doesn’t mean we need anther four years of his sorry ass occupying the White House. In fact, the one thing un-electing Trump should do is to make sure a brain fart like happened in 2016 never happen again. However, we should still try to find the bright side of every such political brain fart.
Also published on Medium.