Donald Trump is a cancer in this country.
Not just because of the way he has behaved in it and in front of it, but because of the way it has fundamentally changed him.
On Thursday night, the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection held the first of what will be a series of public hearings.
The hearing was methodical and, at times, sensational.
It underlined and reinforced the alarming central thesis:
Trump, as President of the United States, attacked the democratic process from the United States to incite a riot in the Capitol, among other things.
Firearms for sale at a gun show in Miami, . Photo (Damon Winter/The New York Times)
Add any adjectives to it (brazen, shocking, outrageous, unprecedented), they are all insufficient to capture the enormity of what he did.
a president with an autocratic fetishone who took office with the welcome help of Russia’s autocratic ruler, almost hamstrung the government of the most powerful country on the planet.
However, with all this, a survey published in February by the Pew Research Center found that fewer americans believed that Trump was responsible for the January 6 riots than those who believed immediately after.
Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans believed he had no no responsibility in the riots, up from 46% a year earlier, and in June 2021, 66% of Republicans said Trump “definitely” or “probably” he won the 2020 election.
The committee hearing may put a dent in those numbers, but if history is our guide, his cult will remain. imperturbable and intact.
This is Trump’s legacy: the alteration of our political reality.
As became clear during Thursday’s hearing, Trump was told by multiple people that he had lost the election and that there was no widespread fraud.
It seems he wasn’t working under a hoax when he tried to steal the election; he was furious at his own lie about that choice.
Lying was a life skill for Trump.
But, before entering politics, he used it primarily as a tool to inflate your assets and his ego and to sell gold-plated aspirations to social climbers with new money.
His entire brand was packaging people’s garish interpretations of glamour.
In that world, he regularly skirted the rules.
But when he entered politics, he found rules that were in some cases even more malleable than those covering finance.
Many of the president’s limitations were customs and traditions.
There were rules that no one had pushed to be enforced because previous presidents they adjusted to them.
In some ways, the only thing that limited Trump as president was the unwillingness of other officials, many of whom he could appoint or replace at will, to bend the rules.
It was like a pirate landing among an indigenous population.
Instead of appreciating the elegance of the culture and the history of its rituals, he focused on its weaknessesplotting ways to exploit it and, if necessary, destroy it.
Donald Trump did not create the modern American right, but he came at a time when he was thirsty for white nationalism unapologetic, when she was terrified of the white replacement and when she had opened her arms in readiness to embrace fiction.
He quickly understood that these impulses, which the establishment Republicans had told their base to repress and just whisper about, were the things that the base wanted to hear screamthings that the base wanted to animate.
Now, millions of Americans have fallen for the lie and follow a liar.
This means that our politics still exist in the shadow of Trump.
Republican politicians, afraid to challenge him and fearful of the mob he controls, play by the rules for him and parrot his lies.
The hermetically sealed, reality-resistant echo chamber of the conservative media ensures that Trump’s propaganda is repeated until it is accepted without examination.
The Democrats also exist in the shadow of Trump.
A big part of the reason why Joe Biden was selected as the Democratic nominee not because he had the most exciting set of policies, but because Democrats desperately wanted beat trump and they saw Biden as the safest bet to do so.
Now that he has been elected, many factions of his winning coalition feel hostage to the electorate.
Any criticism of Biden, even slight and legitimate, must be tempered so as not to give ammunition to the Mar-a-Lago threat who appears ready to try another run for the White House.
If he does, this country could very well fall apart.
And I make that statement with absolutely no hyperbolic intent.
In fact, I am not sure that this country can survive him taking the lead from the margins.
The political system has proven too compromised by Trump’s own influence to hold Trump accountable in a way that ends this nightmare.
Now, the legal system is all we have left, and Trump has been harder to pinch than skin slathered in suntan oil.
Now we must wait to see if the commission has what it takes, not to change the minds of voters, which looks more and more like a lost cause, but to change the minds – or raise the spirits – of prosecutors in the Department of Justice.
Trump has changed America, but we can still stop him from destroying it.
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