• Elliot Harper

The Armchair Activist: The End of Trumpism?

“What shall we do, what shall we do!” Bilbo cried.

“Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say, “out of the frying-pan into the fire” in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.

J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit

The End of Trumpism?

I really didn’t plan to do another Armchair Activist blog so soon after the last one. I was going to wait for a month or two and maybe slot a Yorkshireman in Texas blog in first, but with everything that has been going on recently, I just couldn’t help myself.

Time for some history. In 2016, me and Nay had an opportunity of a lifetime handed to us. In the wake of the Brexit Referendum, we were feeling glum. We were, and are, both Remainer’s (those labels again) and were dismayed when we woke up that fateful morning to find out that the country had narrowly voted to withdraw from the European Union. Now, I’m not going to go into all that, I’ll save that for another blog for when the thing has actually happened (if it ever does), but I just wanted to give you a little context. We were feeling pissed off with the “United” Kingdom, so when Nay’s boss asked if she fancied moving to Houston for a few years, we jumped at the chance. We would have definitely taken the opportunity anyway, but Brexit certainly helped along our decision. So, everything went into motion, and before you know it, we had moved to America. This was the last couple of weeks in October of 2016.

Cast your mind back to that month if you can.

The Presidential Election was in full swing. It was Donald Trump, an outsider and quasi-independent who had lumped himself in with the Republican’s when they realised they didn’t have much choice, against Hillary Clinton: former Secretary of State, former Senator, former First Lady, and prominent member of the popular Obama Administration, and, according to those pesky polls, likely winner, and first female President of the United States…

Oh, how wrong that prediction was.

I remember watching the election results coming in. It all felt very familiar to me, but I was pushing those negative thoughts out of my mind. As the night progressed, a sinking feeling began to take hold as I watched state after state inexplicably vote for Donald Trump and his Wall. When it was all over, I was devastated and quite frankly pissed off. How could this be happening again?

We had jumped out of the Brexit pan, into the Trump fire.

Human beings are incredibly resilient creatures. We put up with all kinds of shit, and most of the time we shrug it off and carry on like nothing has ever happened. Sometimes that’s a positive thing, other times it can be negative. For us, despite the disappointment of stumbling out of one shit show into another, we carried on. We were determined to enjoy our time in Houston, this once in a lifetime opportunity, and it's fair to say, we have. Nay had a two-year contract, and we were determined to see that out and absorb as much of America as we could. So, we got to work. I wouldn’t say we quite buried our heads in the sand, but as outsiders in a foreign country, it was easy to do. We have no say here, but that’s just the way it is. Two years became three, that has become four.

Brexit was a wakeup call for me personally. I was, and still am, gutted that we’re leaving the EU. After this event, I vowed to stay a little more abreast of the political climate so that I knew what was happening. I wanted to avoid any further shocks if possible, but that hasn’t stopped me being stunned with what has taken place over here. The rise of Trumpism has shaken my already incredibly cynical view of the world to its very core.

I’ve watched aghast as Trump has ripped apart alliances, torn up agreements, mocked veterans, ridiculed disabled people, and derided the dead. I’ve watched as he fired everyone with any integrity (however small), while he flapped his eyelashes at dictators. I’ve watched as he separated families at borders, got impeached, dog-whistled far-right groups, fluffed a pandemic response after closing down the very department that was put in place to help, and generally made a total twat of himself. (For more info, check out this article.)

So, after all that bullshit, the 2020 Election came around, and I was thinking to myself, it’s just a blip. There’s no chance that he’s going to win, there’s no chance people will actually vote for him again, there’s no fucking chance

And then 70 million people voted for him.

Just think about that for a second…

70 million people.

That’s a little over the whole population of Thailand (sorry Thailand, but you’re the closest country to the figure I needed. You’re still one of my all-time favourite countries and I hope one day to return.)

70 million people.

I just cannot get my mind around that. After all that he’s done, all that he’s said, the whole lot, and people still voted for him in vast numbers.

I’m sure the majority are Republican lifers who hate the Democrats with a passion, but there’s also a large amount of those that love this cretin. You could argue that they are fueled by Breitbart, QAnon, Fox News, and any other conspiracy website that Trump likes to cosy up to all the time (aka his base), but I still find it shocking.

Luckily Biden won (and I, like millions of others, celebrated it like it was the end of Return of the Jedi, a genuine feel-good moment.) He received 5 million more votes than Trump and secured enough states, chiefly Michigan, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. I’m not a particular fan of Joe Biden, to be honest, I prefer Sanders, and I don’t really see the Democrats as a left-wing party. I find it laughable that they’ve been smeared as Marxist, or Communist, or even Socialist. Anyone who thinks that is fucking stupid. I also don’t think his reign as President will be very good, as the Dems don’t have the Senate, so nothing will get through unless something happens in the mid-terms in 2022. I also don’t believe that true, systemic, long-lasting change will come from them (or the Republicans for that matter. Why would the establishment change anything?), or the kind of change that is needed in a world groaning under the spectre of global warming, but I at least thought he would win comfortably, not a landslide, but enough that it wouldn’t be an issue.

But he didn’t, and now something much worse could happen. It’s slim, but it could. After Trump erroneously claimed victory on Tuesday night, he then set about calling foul play. In a move so predictable it's painful to watch (and many did predict this, which, of course, was firmly denied by the Trump Administration), he went on a tirade that the result is fixed and that the media has it out for him. Anyone who has been paying attention will realise that this is what he’s been doing for four years, but I guess the world’s media has never read the story about the boy who cried “Wolf.”

So, here we are. Trump and his set of bastards are trying to game the system and force the election to go to the Supreme Court, where he’s put three new judges in the hopes that they’ll overturn a perfectly legal election. And if that happens what’s next? What comes after that? If democracy can be gamed (even more so than normal anyway – let's face it, it’s a rich man’s game, even my boy Bernie is a millionaire) then what’s next?

I dread to think.

I’d like to believe that Trump won’t succeed and that he’s just doing the GOP a favour by helping to discredit Biden’s time as President before it’s even begun. He probably thinks he’ll have their protection in the court cases to come. But what if I’m wrong about that? What if he somehow pulls it off? This isn’t the confusion of the 2000 Presidential Election between Bush and Gore (see article.) This election was fair. The results that have come in after Tuesday favoured Biden because Trump specifically asked his supporters not to vote by mail-in ballot. It makes perfect sense that it swung over late because the Republican’s had blocked early counting of these ballots. (This brings up another issue – was it set up by the Trump Administration so that they could discredit the outcome beforehand in this way? Or is that too tin-foil hat?)

It’s still highly unlikely, but if Trump somehow overturns this election using the Supreme Court that he’s filled himself, then what’s stopping him trying something similar again, or going for an unprecedented third term? How do you stop the Cult of Trump if it has all the power? If 70 million people voted for this orange tit then his brand of ethnonationalism, this Trumpism, is still incredibly, if not mysteriously, popular, despite the terrible job that he’s done, then how can it be stopped? The blue wave didn’t happen. Is that because the Dems didn’t do enough to capture everyone’s imagination, or because Biden is too old, or is it something more?

It also begs to ask the broader question of America’s reputation going forward. It’s on shaky grounds after four dreadful years of Trump, but if the election is stolen, however unlikely that scenario, that would be the end of it. But also, just the very fact that Trump is trying to steal it, or at least discredit the outcome, leaves the countries reputation on the edge of tatters. Doesn’t he realise that? Or, as I and many others have suspected, does he really just not give a shit?

And even if Trump is just engaging in a smear campaign, what does that mean for future losing sides in an election? Will all elections be deemed illegal by the losing side going forward? Will either side claim that the other won unfairly and just never bother to concede or congratulate the winner just so that they make the other look bad? Pandora's box, indeed.

This year has been tough. Covid has flipped everything on to its head. It’s been hard being away from friends and family without any possibility of being able even to visit them if something bad happened. Homesickness is a strange thing, something that I’ve only really ever felt once towards the end of our time travelling in 2012, and even then, it was just for a few weeks. We’d been robbed in Peru, so it sort of made sense, and then we went home and got over it. Right now, I’m homesick, so maybe that’s clouding my judgement, but I’ve never felt more like a foreigner during this election. It’s outcome and the continuing drama that surrounds it, has made me feel like a total outsider. (This, despite being surrounded by Biden signs in the neighbourhood I live in, in a blue city, as well as 99% of everyone I know over here voting for Biden.) It’s even made the U.K’s antiquated electoral system seem alright because at least the transition is immediate as soon as the election is over.

Whatever happens, I think Trumpism is here to stay.

To say, we are living through interesting times, would be a massive understatement.

That was a view from the armchair and is in no way meant to antagonise. These views are mine, and mine alone, and can be ignored without causing offence. At the end of the day, I don't know what I'm talking about really, just like you.

Thanks for reading.

The Armchair Activist



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