Sunday, June 12, 2022

Roll the Trojan Horse Back Out

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
He's done. Roll the fat bastard back out either on wheels or on his side. He's served his purpose.
     Donald Trump was indeed a wunderkind, like some right wing version of Ferris Bueller who then proceeded to take not one day off but between 20-25% of his days off. But now he's on the seventh year of the best four years of his life and he doesn't understand where the magic has gone. Why don't people cheer him on when he dances badly? Why are the crowds smaller? Bueller?
    Paul Rosenberg wrote on Salon that Trump's time has possibly come and gone. There are many reasons to believe this. He's already been booed several times by crowds, especially after he left office. His rally attendees have shown time and again they'd eagerly move on without him. Trump wasn't the Golden Calf. He was merely the crude, ugly Trojan Horse these RWNJs used to eventually storm the Capitol. They stuffed their most cherished grievances into him and just rolled him in.
    Rosenberg seems to wrap up Trump's appeal solely in the "Lost Cause" that had prevailed in the south before, during and after the Civil War. But he's only partly right. The Lost Cause was a sputtering movement couched in anti-government sympathies that got a jump start when Charlottesville decided to take down a statue of Robert E. Lee.
    Just as with the tiki torch-wielding lunatics of the Alt Right Movement, Trump the New Yorker cynically attached himself to these fair weather racists despite having no real connection to the south. Any idiot can see why Trump and Richard Spenser's fascist goons did- They opportunistically piggy-backed on to anti-government sympathies, Trump doing so because he recognized that's where the lion's share of his base was.
     At first, it left many of us scratching our heads as to why Trump appealed to southern Republicans. True, since the late 60s, electoral maps have changed little with the major exception being that the right-leaning California and left-leaning Texas have switched in a big way. But it wasn't a simple hidebound ideology that accounted for Trump's popularity in the deep south. He really, really resonated with them.
    Yes, he cynically used them to float him to "victory" in 2016. He ragged on Mexicans literally from Day One. He stood on an "America First" platform that made its first appearance with the Klan in the mid 20s then later with Charles Lindbergh and the America First Committee that was committed not so much to isolationism but not interfering with Nazi Germany's plans for world domination (It completely collapsed just days after Pearl Harbor was bombed). It resonated with the neofascist elements already in place.
    But it wasn't just what he said, it was how he said it. Yeah, Muslims and Mexicans are horrible but he also added a level of brutality we hadn't seen in American politics since the clusterfuck of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Almost from the very start, Trump was openly encouraging his supporters to physically assault protesters who disagreed with his cryptofascist statements. And if they didn't, his security detail did. His campaign rallies were like a cross between All the King's Men and Fight Club.
       But that was then. This is now. We're reading today that at least 15 Republicans are thinking of running for Biden's office whether or not Trump throws his Gestapo hat in the ring. True, if and when Trump announces, and we all know he's itching to, yes, he'll automatically be one of the major GOP contenders. But he'll be riding a short and shallow wave that'll recall not his instantly populist and successful bid in 2015 but Jeb Bush's. It'll be floated for a brief time on one improbable "win", like the former high school quarterback trying to reclaim his glory on the gridiron from younger, more relevant players.

It's Not the Economy This Time, Stupid
Imagine if Hitler had escaped Berlin and popped up in Las Vegas. That's what Trump will look like in 2024 when he announces. He'll be older (78), fatter and doing the same tired shtick. He'll rail about "Sleepy Joe" Biden, "Crooked Hillary" and all his other self-perceived enemies, He'll also try to rail against the economy, which, admittedly is in the shitter right now thanks to corporate greed. But it'll likely not be that way come 2024.
    And when he slouches on the campaign trail again, he'll have to lug a lot of baggage with him. The rape and defamation lawsuits brought by E. Jean Carroll, the assault lawsuit in New York, the civil investigation headed by New York AG Letitia James, the criminal investigation into election fraud by Fani Willis, the Fulton County Georgia DA, etc. Who knows or cares what Alvin Bragg may or may not do?
    Then, of course, there's January 6th. The Committee investigating the assault on the Capitol that day has just begun its public hearings and they're coming loaded for bear. The next hearing will be at 10 tomorrow morning. January 6th, as hideous and horrifying as it was, had one saving grace- It was historic and will not fall into the memory hole.
     Add to that baggage, Trump's increasingly spottier record of endorsements. On Super Tuesday last month alone, several of his picks lost their primaries. And the ones that had won probably would've prevailed without his endorsement. That includes Doug Mastriano, an election-denying and frightening fascist in his own right whom Trump had endorsed almost literally at the 11th hour and did absolutely nothing to help his campaign.
     And, even though his supporters already have one foot out the door even before their fat hero has left the building, he still is a potent force in the party. He's the Trojan Horse that's still kept in the public square in Troy for sentimental purposes, the ugly heirloom from a forgotten relative that's still kept on display but not so publicly that it becomes an eyesore.
    America has had fascist elements in it even before there was fascism. We've always had racism, xenophobia and religious bigotry and that goes back to before the first Continental Congress in 1774. When Alexander Hamilton wrote about "the zealots of the day", he wasn't being entirely prophetic because there were already anti-American zealots and he'd heard them and recognized the danger they represented to organized government.
     And going back to the days of Constitution Hall, there were already factions bitterly opposing any attempt at abolition and even declaring independence from Great Britain. And that anti-government seedbed has only gotten more arable in the nearly 250 years of our history.  It was seen in 18th century Philadelphia, it was seen on the battlefields during the Civil War and we saw its rebirth again on January 6th, 2021.
     Trump was at the head of that, a crumbling Trojan Horse that was still able to get rioters to come out in full force in the most hideous display of white grievance since the Tulsa Massacre a century before. Imagine what will happen if and when Trump loses again in 2024 and claims, again, that he was robbed. The rioters came closer to toppling our democracy than most people realize. And maybe they'll be more successful on January 6, 2025.


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