Please Help ZNet
Trumpism has defined, in the past four years, the quintessence of populism. On January 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob, instigated by their cult leader himself, stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC, a red line was crossed. The line where populism became fascism by, de facto, taking hostage the legislative branch of government. Many Americans, and the rest of the world, saw it live on TV and were shocked. I wasn’t. As matter of fact, I made the projection of the potential for such events in News Junkie Post nine months ago. Trump zealots, either white supremacists, QAnons and Evangelicals were standing by, waiting to be activated by their master: cult leader Trump. The bigger question now is this: are we witnessing the end of a sad chapter in United States history or the opening salvo of a new civil war? Indeed, how will the Biden-Harris administration handle the millions of people who voted for Trump and will still perceive Biden, after the inauguration, as being illegitimately elected?
How can this civil war of the digital age, using disinformation and propaganda as its main weapons, be resolved? The problem that we have, and this is worldwide, is that the virtual construct of the digital age has allowed for infinite fragmentation, where countless delusions can be built into giant mental bubbles that are bullet proof to the impact of reality. This is the case for the QAnons Trump supporters who have a nearly psychotic, across the board, conspiracy-theory based perception of reality. In many ways, the same can be said for hard core Christian Zionists, Creationists or Evangelicals, as well as those who have taken a mental time machine, 160 years backward, to become soldiers of the Confederacy. On January 6, the varied madness of Trumpism was on display. From the so-called QAnon Shaman, who looked like a bit player in a bad movie about barbaric hordes of Goths taking over Rome, to a more sinister man who paraded his Confederate flag thru the Capitol building and acted as if the Confederacy of the South had never been defeated.
Less on the surface, what we saw on most faces on January 6 was anger. Toxic anger truly defines Trumpism. It is mostly the rage of poor white males who feel that their only privilege, which is their skin color, is getting stripped away from them because of the fast moving demographic changes occurring in the US. The anger of poor uneducated white men, from mostly small towns and rural areas, who feel threatened, disenfranchised, and emotionally emasculated by the complex and too quickly evolving gender and cultural landscape. It is the anger of those who feel left behind.
On January 11, the House of Representatives filed an article of impeachment against Trump. This article of impeachment is for “incitement of insurrection.” A section of the article states: “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.” The term “coequal,” regarding the legislative branch comprised of the House and Senate, raises an important issue that should be promptly considered by all policymakers. It is indeed overdue to curtail the excessive power concentrated within the executive branch. In effect, in the past few decades, especially since September 11, 2001, or 9/11, and the administration of George W. Bush, the core value of US democracy, the “checks and balances” between the three branches of government, has yielded the upper hand to the executive. This is fertile ground for an abuse of power.
This new impeachment procedure is unlikely to remove Trump from power before Biden’s inauguration. It is, however, perfectly legitimate and useful in many regards, as it will force Trump die-hard loyalists and coup-attempt enablers to go on the record again about their support. It will also send a clear signal to potential Trump torch bearers and want-to-be despots or dictators like Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and others waiting in the wings of Trumpism. An extra week seems to be an eternity, after the FBI announced on January 11 that it is monitoring credible plans for armed protests by Trump supporters in all 50 states. Apparently, militia groups are calling for storming of state, local, and federal courthouses and buildings if Trump is removed from power before inauguration day.
The events of January 6 have no precedent in US history. But they should have been expected. The writing has been on the wall since day one of Trump’s presidency. Some valid historical analogies have been made in the last few days, including a notable one from the moderate Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former governor of California. Schwarzenegger compared the Capitol riots to Nazi Germany’s 1938 Kristallnacht (night of broken glass) carried out by Hitler’s storm-troopers (SA) against Jewish-owned stores. While this is a valid comparison, Trump’s coup attempt on January 6 was symbolically more damaging. It was not only a blunt assault on “the house of the people” but also an attempt to take its representatives hostage. Under Trump’s orders, the house of “We the People” was first put under siege and then stormed by a mob. This is why, this entire nation is, right now, on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.
For another week, in principle at least, its commander-in-chief is a depraved madman with his back against a wall. A cornered and wounded beast who has deviously managed to brainwash millions into believing that the presidential election was stolen, and that, despite having no evidence in favor of this, he won in a landslide. In this regard, just like Hitler, or like Nero in Roman times, the knowledge that he is going down makes Trump more dangerous. Like Hitler or Nero, instead of accepting the reality of defeat, Trump would rather create mayhem, death and ruin. Trump is a perverse borderline schizophrenic leader who has, almost simultaneously, unleashed a seditious mob and invoked an attachment to “law and order.” A borderline schizophrenic sociopath who switches, in a split second, from arsonist to firefighter. This is the type of predicament the US is facing for another week: a raving lunatic who might still control the nuclear weapons codes.
Trump has violated his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He, his enablers in Congress and elsewhere, his mob foot soldiers either mercenary or lunatic, and their financial backers are a clear and present danger to democracy and the national security of this country. He will not resign. An impeachment will not happen soon enough. Therefore, he must be neutered before Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The transition team must categorically secure key security apparatus including the Pentagon, NSA, CIA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security. Right now the US is dealing with two pandemics. COVID-19, which currently kills between 3,500 to 4,000 people a day, is the obvious one. But the most insidious one is the pandemic of sedition manufactured by Trump and his enablers from disinformation and lies. It is a propaganda machine so mighty that 72 percent of Republican voters still believe Trump wants to save democracy as he undermines its most important principles.
Walter Langer, in a 1943 report titled, “A Psychological Analysis of Adolf Hitler,” noted that one of his primary rules was that “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” This could certainly apply to Trump. In addition, propagandists tend to succumb to their own delusions and come to believe that the figment of their imagination is reality. For example, Trump has managed to convince himself that his own hordes of MAGA storm troopers were actually Antifa in disguise. When the country with the world’s most powerful military has, in principle, at his helm, a borderline psychotic, it has a problem. The entire world has a problem for a few very long days.
Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire.