I know when they called the election for him that night, I was stunned, as affected as no political event (to that point) has ever done. Of course, the endless clown-car-circus-train-wreck- horrorshow that was the years afterward…
This is a few months old, so I’ll respond quickly and then add a new thought.
My evidence that I knew how bad Trump would be: I am writing this from Europe. On the day of the election, I was in Seattle. The next morning, I said to my wife: “We need to leave.” Many people said something like this, as an abstraction, but we started working on it immediately, with completely serious intent. Three months after the inauguration, we had a job offer and a relocation package, and three months after that, I was on an airplane with my wife and two kids. And we’ve been here ever since.
And here’s the new line of thought: With Trump now out of office, are we looking to return? The answer is no. In fact, we are doing language and civics studies in preparation to naturalize over here. We are doing everything we can to make the move permanent.
Because even though I saw clearly at the time how bad Trump was, and what a dangerous shitshow his administration had the potential to be, I was actually wrong on a deeper level. I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture. It goes to what others in this long discussion have already said: the right wing in the U.S. has enthusiastically lost their minds. Trump is a stupid, destructive, and entirely evil human being, but the degree to which he activated an enormous cult of like-minded goblins continues to be shocking and depressing.
I previously thought that Trump had the potential to break the United States. This was incorrect. The more accurate version is that a huge faction emerged which wanted to use Trump as a weapon to break the country. Trump’s departure did not deactivate them; they are still very actively and enthusiastically pursuing their agenda, and it’s an open question whether they will succeed.
In 2016, I knew that this authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset lurked in the fringes of the Right, and I knew that the next few decades would be a turning point one way or the other. But I was deeply wrong as to the scale and scope of this worldview, and the four years of Trump’s presidency was a forceful, painful education in the true level of American dysfunction.
Hence, the purchase of a house, and the switching of my kids from private expat schools to enrollment in the local system. We’re here for good, in every sense of the word.
Yeah, well, I am not convinced that Europe is a viable alternative (sour grapes, as it would be entirely out of reach for me). The US is hell-bent on exporting as much of its domestic shitshow as it possibly can, and Europe is right on the front line.
I was pretty horrified by the election of Reagan and deeply dismayed by W, but CFSG’s election left me at “oh, come on, seriously?” But I have nowhere else to go, and quite frankly, leaving just seems cowardly – one does not topple Barad dûr by running away from Mordor.
On the second point, I did struggle a lot with the ethical issues, but ultimately, it came down to what was best for my two young kids, and especially for my wife, who’s an immigrant from a “shithole country” and was in the crosshairs for the worst potential abuses of the departed administration.
On the first point, the European continent is not stupid, it’s very clear that dark forces in the US want to internationalize their neo-feudalist agenda. But given the history here, people are extremely sensitive to veiled fascist/authoritarian intentions, and in addition the slow-motion implosion of the UK via their drip-drip adoption of positions inspired by the US serves as a visceral close-up reminder of what’s at stake.
Nowhere is perfect. Everywhere is at risk, in different ways and to varying degrees. But at the moment, and for the next little while at least, this is working for us.
Whether to stay or to leave the country in the face of Trumpism is - as @Cervaise describes - a monumental decision on the personal level. Meanwhile, on the level of national politics, what we ordinary folk do as individuals is of sub-atomic significance. I do understand wanting to feel part of something bigger than oneself. But in my opinion, “the Resistance needs me” should only factor into the above decision if you’re already one of the few whom the Resistance truly needs.
(FWIW, I’m an American living in Europe, for non-political reasons.)
I believe most 2016 voters got all the info they thought they needed from that execrable tv show. He’s a business genius who is going to run the country like a successful company. What amazed me was the amount of unsubstantiated braggadocio. Nobody knew more about any subject than him, but he was never called on it. I thought being a bragging asshole would alienate him from normal people, but that wasn’t the case.
Really what happened was that he played the Rs’ game better than anyone. They get their way through hard-headed assholery, and he was assholier-than-thou. They were impressed by his absolute mastery of R-ness and so stood behind him as their archetype. When non-Rs tried to challenge him, he just kept being shoutier, striving to drown out words with noise.
The fortunate thing for us is the depth of his D-K and peter-pan syndrome. Had he half a brain and a single strand of non-horn I ess-based heart, we would have been well and truly fucked.
I have no idea what peter-pan syndrome means but yes, if Trump had been a competent tyrant, oh boy.
“The term has been used informally by both laypeople and some psychology professionals in popular psychology since the 1983 publication of The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up, by Dr. Dan Kiley. Kiley also wrote a companion book, The Wendy Dilemma …”
There’s nothing cowardly about leaving if you have that option. This idea that you can fight this giant wave of madness is naive, and it’s ultimately wrong. @Cervaise is correct: Trump is a symptom of the major more serious affliction, which is the ideological secession of white conservative America. FFS, the legislature in Michigan won’t even allow the governor there to impose emergency restrictions, even if it’s to protect the lives of the mostly unvaccinated people in their stupider-than-pig shit rural communities. In their eyes, it’s better to die as a white man with a middle finger raised at liberals than it is to have some basic intellect and concern for your fellow man.
No, there is something very, very wrong with America right now – as in 1930s Germany wrong. The people who left that shit show absolutely made the right decision, and it’s the reason they have descendants alive today who can tell that story.
Too much of the focus is on Trump himself and his supposed competence or lack of it.
But take a look at his legacy and what he leaves behind: legislatures that are actively trying to make it harder to vote and make it easier to overturn election results; legislatures that exclusively strip autonomy away from larger more ethnically diverse cities; some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the past half century. Nearly half of congress essentially countenanced a violent assault on the Capitol, gaslighting the Capitol police officers who were assaulted no less.
It doesn’t matter that Trump wasn’t a skilled authoritarian; he rebranded a party that went from being conservative but committed to democratic principles, to being a party that is committed to destroying American democracy as we know it. The damage is done.
Oh, do not blame that on him. Remember Scalia? Newt? Starr? This shit has been underway for more’n 40 year. ShitGibbon “rebranded” nothing, he just peeled the sticker off so we could see (if we wanted to) their actual agenda.
I think you’re missing my point. Trump has been both a symptom of and accelerant for the Republican’s anti-democratic shift. I’m not giving him credit for playing 5-dimensional chess, and I agree that he is simply the product of what angry white voters wanted after 2012, so he’s a symptom in that sense. But I think there’s no doubt that he had a lot to do with the violent lurch to the right that we’ve seen since 2015. His behavior, particularly in the last few months in office, has no precedent, but it likely established a precedent for future republicans going forward.
I think the violent lurch to the right started with the Tea Party back around the time of Obama’s election. But Trump certainly latched on to it- those people LOVED him, so he loved them back. That’s I think the telling thing- he was in it for whatever groups would tell him he was awesome, etc… and everyone else didn’t matter.
I think that’s the thing I didn’t see the most in 2016, is just how venal he was, and how utterly uninterested in actually being President or Presidential he was. Everything was about him, getting him adoration and press, etc… He wasn’t concerned in the least bit about actually governing or being Presidential; it was all extraordinarily self-centered. Then going in to the election, I didn’t realize just how insane he was going to be about losing the election- I mean, the whole ‘stolen election’ thing was just ridiculous- Giuliani and the other legal clowns filing nuisance suits, recounts, etc… all capped off by the riot on Jan 6.
The part that still mystifies me is seeing his behavior and seeing how people STILL love him. I mean it’s the rankest of hypocrisy for a party to espouse “traditional values”, honor, the Christian religion, etc… to turn around and adore a philandering crook who lies, cheats and steals every chance he gets.
Well, to be honest, the Book of Revelations literally requires self-deluded Christians worshipping someone who is the opposite of Christ, as to kick off the whole end-times scenario.
So at least we got that going for us, which is nice.
“Revelation,” noted the Jew.
That one too.
The point is not about Trump, he did not change that much. The point was how much the system let him get away with, the standards to which his party and the media originally held him, the popularity of increasingly shameless assertions and the lack of leadership and discordant voices.
I was listening to a comic opining how much he hated seeing faith groups claim what a religious man Trump was. Really? He could go to church and listen and talk about someone he respected more than Himself?
I’ve been mulling this thread for awhile.
I was deeply troubled over many things I’d seen in the run-up to the election.
I was aware of Trump’s involvement with the Russians dating from the mid-80s. I suspected he was compromised, because that’s what Russia, and the Soviet Union before them, does. Add to that Trump’s vainglorious nature with his gargantuan sense of entitlement and you have a recipe for a useful idiot.
The Obama Administration disclosed on October 7, 2016, that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed with a “high degree of confidence” that Russia was hacking the election. It also became known that Obama wanted to make the country aware of this involvement much sooner, but Mitch McConnell said he would accuse Obama of trying to interfere in the election if he did. This is when I became worried that more Republicans were involved in this effort than just Trump. That was the same day the Access Hollywood tape became public – and, not coincidentally to me, the first dump of Clinton campaign emails. That’s when I knew the Russians were deeply involved in our politics and our government. I became terrified for our country.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it was a crucial piece that contributed to my fears. I watched the Democratic National Convention and how angry Bernie’s supporters were. Hell, how angry Bernie was. I’ve watched a lot of conventions. In every single instance except 2016, the party pulled together and backed their nominee. Not this time. There was venom at that convention that I didn’t understand in the moment, but when the manipulation of our social media became better understood, it all made sense. Bernie and his supporters were just puppets in a much more serious plan.
So I knew we were in serious trouble in 2016. And I completely underestimated how bad it would be.
I wouldn’t say I underestimated how bad Trump is. But I had no idea how rotten to the core the Republican party had become, or how readily he would be welcomed as the conduit to fulfill their efforts to do away with democracy.
My wife and I reacted very similarly. Unfortunately, we both have careers that are not “in demand” and a legal move to Europe with a legit job offer was not possible. But we immediately began looking at citizenship possibilities and discovered that my wife is eligible for Italian citizenship through her great-grandfather. It’s a massively long and red-tape-filled process which should be complete in about one year’s time. After that, we’ll be able to move to anywhere in the EU.
Once we saw how the Access Hollywood tape did not sink his campaign as it should have, we realized something insane was going on with the electorate. Nevertheless, he still exceeded my expectations about how bad he would be. The openness of the graft and corruption was mind-boggling.