While out on my run today I let my accumulated thoughts about the US presidential election wander and I realized: this is how it must have happened in Germany in the thirties of the 20th century.
I had these lingering thoughts for quite a while. The images of Trump in front of a sea of American flags, his speeches, his gesturing and facial expressions, the shouting and yelling of his sons and family while campaigning. Or the willingness of people like Nick Rocco to dream of a “Trump family/dynasty presidency”. The audacity to suggest that the will of the people must be ignored now, as expressed by Mark Levin – it all seemed eerily familiar from our history lessons in school, in Germany.
I’m not saying that Trump is Hitler – I think he’s too naive for that. But there are people who are much darker, more intelligent, unscrupulous, opportunistic and/or obedient who surround him, and take advantage of him. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, to name just a few.
In 2016, I understood voting for Trump as an expression of frustration with the US’ political system. A system that was perfectly represented by Hillary Clinton of course (she still won the popular vote, which only illustrates that the electoral college needs an update for the 21st century, but that’s a different story). Even then, I of course found it deeply irritating that these voters tuned out all of Trump’s bullshit, his mockery and unconcealed hate.
But it took only four years after 2016, and more voters aligned themselves with Trump and his message of division and hate! Still more people voted for Joe Biden, but again: the actual number of Trump voters has also increased between 2016 and 2020 (and they still refuse to acknowledge that they lost of course, because Trump has instilled in them this idea that only when he wins it would be a legitimate election).
The number of voters against him has luckily increased as well but at the very least, that means: not much has changed in four years of madness that seemed to increase every day.
It also took only those four years for large parts of the Republican party to align themselves with Trump, in a toxic mixture of opportunism and cowardice, of course (most of this party still refuses to acknowledge that they have lost the election, too).
The division of the (once) United States of America probably began much earlier of course, with freaks and nut jobs like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, the new Tea Party, and all that. But in the end, four years of Mr. Trump’s incendiary lies and alternate facts was all that it took to brainwash a far too large part of American voters. John Kerry once said that Americans have a right to be stupid. I wonder how he thinks about that today.
I find it all still deeply worrying, and won’t stop being worried until after the electors have cast their votes, and after President-elect Biden has been sworn in at the inauguration in January… (and even then, one has to wonder if the Republican party will be interested in mending and uniting the country and helping all people who live here – but I guess it’s too soon to ask this question).