It’s been difficult to avoid Donald Trump these last few weeks. I had expected a blustery start, but not this near-perfect storm of fascist demagoguery. It’s a terrible blend, like a devastating storm; inspiring fear, terrible to behold, and impossible to turn away.
In the midst of this, it’s easy to think Trump is the storm that will blow itself out. A house of cards of his making that he himself will cause to fall apart. Yes, these things are possible, but it is by no means certain, and the centre, the left, and even the hopeful right, would do well to pay heed to the dangers.
So here are my 3 reasons why Trump will win in 2020.
1. Charisma. Not in the beautiful sense of course. Trump attracts like a bludger. He himself has little real talent, but is able to draw others around him to carry him forward. In many respects, akin to Hitler. Butler had skills to be sure, but in many ways he lacked a finesse of governing, and was happy to allow others to do the hard work. As long as Trump is President, he can accept the management of the likes of a neo-Nazi like Steve Bannon.
In this respect he is an ambivalent source of change. Few I think expect great things from him, but hope that his presence will be the catalyst for whatever extreme change they think needs to happen. For this reason, Trump’s rise and fall does not rely necessarily on success. Indeed, in many respects he has failed even as a winner – 2 million less votes than Hilary Clinton. Massive protests and legal challenges have already appeared in excess.
No, as a centre point for change he holds power; even as a useless man he might still be a useful puppet. People might suffer, but do not be amazed how many of those will blame others rather than him. Those that live perpetually in a world of fear, paranoia and hatred, have the most to fear from rationality. It means accepting your life is the lie. Denial is a powerful motivator.
Trump draws attention, even as a poor President and a poorer man. The left and centre and the placid right revel in gravitas, but there are those that either dismiss it, or they mistake other behaviour for the same thing. Those people are the ones that will vote with Trump, even if they know it will kill them. And they believe their vote is rational, even if everyone else says otherwise. They have genuine fears, even if they are flawed, and these can’t be easily dismissed. They need engagement, and recognition. Without a strategy to win them over, the Democrats will founder.
2.The fanatics. There are many that agree with Trump, his vision, his ideals, if indeed we can apply so lofty a title to such lowly beliefs. These people, like Bannon, and Conway, have a vested interest. After so long on the fringes of extremism they have been pushed into positions of power they couldn’t have dreamed of before.
These high profile fascistsare not the only believers though. There are others who will stand by Trump’s racism, knowing full well they are racist and being proud of the fact. There are misogynists, homophobes, and fascists in plentiful supply. They will believe and follow no matter, because they are believers.
It might have been assumed in the past that they were too few, but as the last election showed they are more common, and more united, than people had realised. They are unconventional, refusing to identify by the established standards, as we saw with polling. It makes it difficult to judge their commitment, how much they might waver (in polling we might look for levels of likely voters, but it’ll be hard to track them that way). Their vote meant something, maybe for the first time in their life. Seeing Trump in power they get to see a part of themselves, and they share in the power. They might be discouraged from voting for Trump if his failures are great enough, but they won’t vote for anyone else.
3.Duff opposition. This is simple; the Democrats end up with a poor candidate. It’s arguable that Hilary Clinton was a poor candidate. In many respects she was an excellent choice – experienced and intelligent – but there was plenty to undermine her appeal. The emails were part of the problem, but they were part of a wider problem. For years the Republicans and the right in general had been busy attacking the Clinton’s credentials. HRC dealt with much of it well, but she underestimated it’s impact. The emails fed the mistrust, but they didn’t create it.
The Democrats have had a poor record in the past with other candidates, largely underestimating their opponent (like Gore and Kerry), or simply not being up to the task (like Dukakis). They have to pick well. Aim too high, misjudge the political landscape, underestimate Trump, all these could cost them, and the world, dear.
So that’s my 3. Not the only reasons of course, but to me they seem to be the most pertinent at the moment. The subtleties of politics can distort the issues, and other things will influence change (I haven’t considered Putin or his motivations and what may happen there for example), but the bigger and broader issues will always apply. It’s going to be a long four years, and if results like Brexit and Trump have shown anything, it’s don’t take things for granted.