Lessons to be learned from a falling Trump


If a Trump falls in the election, does anyone hear?

Dust is settling over the US mid-term elections, and it is now clear the Republican Party’s much touted red wave has failed to reach anything near the tsunami levels predicted by Conservative pundits and polling firms.

The results have led to yet more egg accruing on the collective visages of both those staples of democratic politics, but that has not stopped those same talking heads from attempting to pull the tail from the donkey. In the scramble to pin blame, former POTUS Donald Trump is much the flavour of the month.

But there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the failure of the Republican sun to rise to expectations and much to be learned about why The Donald has managed to stay, somewhat, afloat the waters of the Washington swamp despite his endorsement’s dismal showings.

There are reasons why a huge number of Americans, many of them neither fools nor dupes, remain loyal to the idea (ideal?) that is Donald Trump. That brand loyalty stands only slightly bent in the hurricane gale that is the litany of lies, pomposity and alternative reality revealed about the Trump style of losing, and the obvious threat to democracy that the former US president represents.

A distressing number of Americans are so disillusioned in their government (never all that popular an agency among the rank and file at any point in time in the history of that great nation) that they are ready to embrace an autocratic alternative—even to the point of civil war. And let’s face it, a second American civil war would make the butcher’s bill of the first one pale in comparison. The number of automatic weapons in civilian hands pretty much makes that a guaranteed result of a complete breakdown.

Thankfully, enough (barely) of the US electorate have stepped up to defend their democracy against those whose tactics are to deride and dismiss electoral legitimacy—but a good portion of the midterm’s outcome has more to do with partisan mathematics than a rallying around the Constitution. The future of that great nation to our south depends on both sides of the aisle stepping back from the precipice to take a long hard (and dare we suggest non-partisan) look at the messages contained in the 2022 midterm results.

There is a reason that Donald Trump has resonated in the American psyche. There are, of course, those Republicans who simply see the harnessing of the MAGA crew as a route to power, collateral damage to the body politic be damned—the ends justify the means. We see the same process currently in play here in Canada. But the real key to Trump’s success is the belief among a huge portion of the American electorate that he does what he says he will do.

It’s a simple thing.

For far too long politicians have climbed the rungs of power by making promises to blocks of supporters only to toss those assurances into the dustbin the second they have ascended to the throne. People are tired of it—and becoming tired enough to consider throwing the electoral baby out with the bathwater and embracing a strongman.

The history of that course of action has not been particularly great in recent years but looking back to the death of that earlier superpower, the Roman Republic, and its descent (or ascent) into the autocratic Roman Empire, despite a hugely destructive civil war, ended with the Pax Romana. The peace of Augustus, where the militarized and devastated Roman polity saw one of the longest periods of relative peace in antiquity. The ends, some might suggest, justified the means despite an incredible sacrifice of the innocent that is civil war.

It is long past time that politicians of all political stripe, of left, right and centre, start walking the walk laid out in their political campaigns. It’s a novel idea that might even transcend sunny ways and great hair. Sadly, that looks to be a forlorn hope in the short term.

Let’s bring truth and honesty into our electoral lives—we won’t say “back into” because the history of democracy does little to support such a Pollyanna perspective of the past. As Winston Churchill once said, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”