It has been a very rough week for all things Trump- and for America.
Protestors stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday- the same day that Congress was set to certify the results of the 2020 election. There were hundreds-of-thousands of (lawful) Trump supporters gathered in D.C. to express widespread discontent, but a mob of hundreds ran riot inside the halls of Congress. They crossed a bright red line. It was appalling behavior, and a bad day for the country.
For many, a sad political reality has finally set in. There will be no last minute change to the election results, but the anger and distrust around them still remains. Joe Biden will soon be the next President of the United States. Tens-of-millions of Americans firmly believe the election was rigged, and a large percentage of them still think it was outright stolen. This is not a recipe for a cooperative and peaceful Democracy over the next four years.
Trump has now publicly accepted he has no pathway to victory and will soon depart the White House. He has condemned those who rioted inside Congress, and called for a spirit of unity among Americans as the Biden administration prepares to take power.
For Trump’s opponents, it’s too little, too late. Even this admission of defeat, with the clock running out on his Oval Office tenure, is insufficient. They want retribution. Many Democrats are calling for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office through Congress, or the Cabinet’s invocation of the 25th amendment. For them, it’s not enough that Trump lost- they want him punished for his transgressions and his supporters humiliated.
If this attitude continues- and it almost certainly will- there will be no national reconciliation. The healing that President-elect Biden claims to bring will emerge as a short-lived fiction. Democrats already seem on the brink of full-scale purge of prominent conservatives from public life. They are pushing to have them kicked off social media, fired from their jobs, and canceled in every possible way.
The irony is that this scorched earth approach from the political winners of 2020 will only bring together and energize a badly dejected conservative base. Nothing unifies people like a common foe, and the expected abuses and vindictiveness of the newly empowered Democrats will spur the GOP to circle the wagons. It will just be a matter of time.
Will Donald Trump have a major role in this? Will he be the de facto leader of the Republican party going forward, acting as a kind of government opposition in exile at Mar-a-Lago? It’s not clear even Trump himself knows the answers. The shock of the election loss seems to have been delayed from November 3rd to January 7th for many of his voters- and for the president himself.
Regardless of Trump’s future, there is a conservative-populist sense of disaffection and persecution that will only grow in the months ahead. The Biden administration is coming into office on the promise of a return to normalcy, but even if he wishes the pursue a moderate course, the radical Left Democrats will push him on divisive policies. And the Trump movement, perhaps under a different moniker than “MAGA,” will become an increasingly ferocious political opponent in response. We can all hope for calmer, civil political discourse ahead. But we should prepare for things to get even more tense, ugly, and bitter in 2021.