‘Empires crumble all the time’ and events of the last week or so seems to point to if not the end of an empire certainly the end of an era as Donald Trump, the once all powerful President of the United States is looking more and more a spent force, a shadow of his former self.
Always a brash, divisive figure he rode all over the norms of diplomacy yet to many many of his admirers he was a force for good in the US restoring pride, putting America first and improving the economy.
Yet to other he was a brash bully who brought shame on the office. I confess to falling into the latter category yet I have many friends mostly in the States that fall into the former, and even now after what happened in DC still support their President. In fact I can almost feel the frustration in some of their replies when people question the president in any way.
While I have covered Trump in several posts it is worth looking at what happens next.
A divided Nation
One legacy that President Trump leaves is a country more divided than every before, his rhetoric throughout his presidency has been confrontational, attack has always been his main weapon and some of the attacks on his political opponents and in particular the mainstream press has been brutal.
He has continued to challenge the freedom of the press labelling it fake news and bypassing normal media routes to message directly on social media platforms.
This has led to more and more mistrust of mainstream media outlets and more and more interest in social media or dubious news channels.
While it can be argued that mainstream media , traditionally in print media but more and more in broadcast media contain a more than unhealthy bias the shift to other news sources has allowed more militant and conspiratorial outlets to appear and thrive.
That in turn has led to more division as people retreat to echo chambers, if you don’t like what CNN are saying switch to Fox, if you don’t like what Fox are saying which to NewsMax and so on, where this inevitably leads is that people tune in not to receive news but to titillate and validate their own bias.
Now you could argue that this would have happened anyways and I think you are right but President Trump has almost certainly poured gasoline on that fire, stoking it for his advantage.
The challenge of the new administration is to get people to stop seeing people with different political ideologies as enemies, to try to find common ground, rebuild trust in the political offices and systems. It’s a tall order and one that I feel could be made all the more difficult now the unproven allegation that the election was somehow stolen has taken hold.
A social media pariah
I almost feel as if removing the likes of Twitter and Facebook from the president will be almost as hard to take for him as losing the presidency itself.
For critics of Mr Trump it became a cause for celebration however the power now wielded by these social media giants is a cause for concern to me. I have always been against censorship as a rule as it exerts a lot of power to the one censoring, I get that you need a element of censorship to protect but overall the fear I have is it has often been used to silence those who don’t agree with you.
I will admit to being a little torn over this , yes I see how in the tinderbox that is the States at the moment do we need a more and more desperate and cornered president tweeting remarks that could further provoke his more militant of supporters into more and more extreme acts. Yet I also stand very much against a cancel culture and see the importance ina democratic society of free speech.
Such as the way Facebook and twitter integrated themselves into our everyday lives we forget they are private companies and as such have the control of who who they allow to use their platform. This of course could have repercussions in the future and is something that needs careful investigation.
The next wave of Trumpism
Even if President Trump quietly retires to Florida and sees out the rest of his days playing Golf he has undoubtedly opened a Pandora’s box. The rise of a new radicalised right wing, distrustful of the mainstream parties and seeing conspiracy everywhere.
These folks ain’t simply going to fade away, the militant wing are on the March triggered by the BLM last summer and what they see as the threat of woke liberalism. If Trump does go quietly into the night they will find be on the lookout for a new voice to follow.
The concern is that whoever follows Trump is an unknown, and could leave people wishing for what they had.
The state of the Republican Party
The one consequence which I predicted almost from the start of the presidents term is the harm he would inflict upon the Republican Party. This has been sadly born out and we are left with a party divided on itself.
Don Trump Jnr commented the other day that it is no longer the Republican Party but Donald Trumps Republican Party. While this is very much not true it does point to the difficult times ahead for a party that has been so closely aligned to the president and his family, indeed if you look to the last conference season his family made up a large number of the key note speakers.
We are seeing in the wake of the trouble at DC a very real split in the GOP, and you have a sense that when they need to be a balance to the Democratic Party quite a lot of the time will be taken up fighting among themselves and redesigning who they are.
On one hand there is certainly a desire from the trump family to keep the legacy going and while it may be a step too far to expect a run From Donald Trump himself in 2024 his children certainly have eyes on the prize, however and especially following the senate losses in Georgia and the scenes at the capital they could be viewed as damaged goods and the appetite is growing to make a clean break.
The church at the crossroads
Another group having to come to terms with the demise of Trump is the fundamental evangelical church of which large swathes have aligned themselves to Trump. I can see the attraction , Trump has done a lot to woo the church especially on the subject of the pro life movement a key factor for many Christians , Trump has also worked hard to support the pro Israel lobby and has certainly had success in brokering some peace deals in the Middle East. We can also see the advantage in the way the Supreme Court has been filled with conservative Christian voices and indeed a number of high profile if all be it highly controversial Christian personalities have almost unheard of access to the White House.
However all this comes at a price, to see ‘Jesus Saves’ among confederate flags and nazi memorabilia paraded by the mob breaking into the Capital building is not a healthy or good look for the church. And the well worn and often rolled out trope that they know he has some rough edges but he is doing Gods work seems more and more of a difficult sell.
We are seeing more and more extreme right wing agitators aligning themselves to the church, COVID deniers and gun law activists with more and more extreme views are identifying with the mainstream church.In addition it’s very hard to follow the teachings of Christ and preach good news to all men when you spew so much hatred out to fellow man.
Finally What next for Mr Trump
it is certainly true that the last few days has seen President Trumps stock plummet, whether this is something he can ride out and bounce back from remains to be seen I guess.
I personally see a run for president is very unlikely and in the current climate I cannot see a route through for his kids either.
There will also be undoubtedly a number of personal challenges coming The presidents way, a number of court cases and also some expensive loans maturing not long after he leaves office.
There are however lots of opportunities, Trump is a larger than life character who will certainly be in demand, he is also media savvy and will have no shortage of offers in this area.
Indeed it would not surprise me to see him try to establish his own media company and there is already rumours that he could take control of NewsMax a company held by his close friend.
The one thing that is guaranteed is that we have not heard the Last of Donald Trump and the man for better or worse has certainly made his mark on not only the USA but the world at large.