These are questions many, or maybe most Americans try to avoid these days. They shrug, pretend our mad king’s latest excesses and offenses are just an act, or that it will be over soon. They excuse the externalities bearing down on us as fate or bad timing, and Donald’s eccentricity and incompetence as just the icing on the political cake of America’s Annus Horribilis. (And no, Don Jr., that’s not a symptom of a bad booty bump.)
To those Americans, I say: Don’t look ahead. Don’t look past this madness. The desperate, dangerous weeks ahead are the most important and fraught since the eve of the American Civil War. Sure, you know there’s a pandemic, a looming crisis in bankruptcies, evictions, and homelessness as Washington squabbles. You know we’re sliding into a racial conflict engineered by political hacks and juiced by social media tools in the hands of digital terrorists. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how are you liking 2020?
At a moment when a sensible, smart, decent normal president of either party would be working to face the monsters confronting us, Donald Trump’s hurt feelings and bad electoral prospects are leading us to a moment where the pain we’re suffering will be amplified and we will be pushed at least to our limits.
We’ll suffer because Donald Trump is scared of losing, and he’ll burn down everything to cling to power. We’ll suffer because his administration is filled with ass-sniffing toadies without a whit of courage or integrity. We’ll be put through a ringer of lies, propaganda, and strife designed by the best minds that the Trump campaign, the RNC, and their allies at the Internet Research Agency can muster. (Remember, while Trump may have a shit-tier intellect, the people desperate to keep him in the office of the president are smart, amoral, and absolutely fanatical about using the tools and technologies at their fingertips to ensure victory, no matter the cost. )
He will drag this country into three deep, dark places and his little minions (folks I like to think of as “people who were only following orders” types at the 2023 Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings) will help him every step of the way.
First, in the words of President Eric Cartman, “Race war—It’s ON!” Sure, Americans are in the streets full of righteous anger over the police murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and too damn many others to bear. So of course, Trump is stoking racial tensions in this country for political gain, working every day to scare the shit out of white suburban voters without a college education about how the scary Black and brown people are coming to burn their suburban homes.
Trump fluffer Matt Gaetz summarized it perfectly at the RNC Fearfest, sounding to all the world like a spook movie trailer voiceover guy as he declared that “It’s a horror film really,” where the “Woketopians” supposedly behind Joe Biden, of all people, “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.”
Trump will continue to encourage his Trumphadis to roll into the protests with their F-250s (damn, I just sold mine) tooled up for a fight.
From the “both sides” March of the Pasty Virgins in Charlottesville to the Tree of Life Synagogue to Cesar Sayoc to the El Paso shooter to the Boogaloos to the Rittenhouse boy, the dark triad of Trump, Fox, and Facebook keeps sparking fires. Trump will stoke this into a bonfire in the coming weeks, and no one can stop him.
The apocalyptic rhetoric of these cults feeds a mental framework where violence is justified not to protect simply themselves, but civilization itself. Expect the very worst. (I told y’all liberals that it pays to carry.)
Next, he’ll drag us into the vortex of lies, conspiracy twaddle, scamecdotes (“He was a huge guy with tears in his eyes, saying, ‘Mr. Trump... I’m worried Antifa is in my laundry room.’”) and deadly deceptions. He’ll start lying about a vaccine—a beautiful vaccine, the best vaccine—in the next few weeks, and people in his base will decide that it’s time to cast off their masks and end social distancing. Sure, a lot of them will be dead soon, but it’s a small price to pay for a bump in the Rust Belt, right?
Finally, he’ll gleefully accept the same boost from Russia that helped him land the job in 2016. They’re already hard at work for him, the cheapest subcontractors in the Trump campaign. His director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is already withholding information from Congress and forbidding intelligence officials from testifying in person on Capitol Hill. Interior Minister Bill Barr will play along with Rudy Giuliani’s absurd Hunter Biden October Surprise.
From the moment Donald stepped off the stage on the South Lawn of the Trump White Palace™ he knew his carefully crafted convention was a flop. He knew the first night came across as hokey even by Potemkin Village standards, before turning into a coke-fueled screamfest. The second night was dull. Melania’s turn was the only night where ratings crept past the Democratic National Convention, and then only barely.
His own speech—the product of a committee of indifferently educated writers given to clunky rhetorical tropes and odd divergences—was an endless hot mess. He leaned hard on the podium like a drunk clings to a lightpost.
He sensed all weekend that the polling in the field would show… nothing. No bounce. Not even of the mythical dead-cat variety. His feral cunning over the media’s ratings game failed him, and that huge burst of fireworks on the National Mall did nothing to change the direction of this race.
The dear leader’s interview with Frau Ingraham this week set the tone for what American is in for over the next two months. When the house organ of Trumpism’s own propagandists are visibly uncomfortable with Trump and telling him he’s promoting a conspiracy theory, shit has gotten loose, and heavy cargo is rolling around the deck.
It’s no secret that Trump’s campaign has already embraced a spectrum of lunatic agitprop theories from the fringiest edges of the lunatic denizens of Crazytown. Trump spokesbot Hogan Gidley went out of his way to avoid calling QAnon and Pizzagate the absolute bullshit hoaxes they are. Kayleigh Mendacity elides challenges on the same question with her usual poseur pissantery. The message they’re sending to the edges is that their bat-shittery has a home in the Trump fold. Hell, Lara Lee Trump is campaigning for Laura Loomer.
To say that Trump’s infelicitous use of the word “choke” to compare police murders of Black men to a golfer missing a putt set a new low point for presidential rhetoric is putting it mildly, but some of the outrage is what he craves. Any time Trump can tell his base that he’s the only thing standing between racist cops being held to account and the end of civilization, he believes he’s winning.
Despite the sunshine the Trump campaign has been piping up his ass (hey, does that work for COVID, too?), the law-and-order uber alles message is starting to blow back as nervous suburbanites look outside their windows and don’t see the alleged mutant-infested nuclear hellscape Trump and Fox bleat about nightly.
With a little over two months to go, prepare for the worst—and you won’t be surprised.