Pro-Trump, Woman, Dolls
A woman and her doll at the pro-Trump Walk Away march in Washington, DC, October 27, 2018. Photo credit: Joe Flood / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

For many years prior to Donald Trump, the political discourse has deteriorated. However, with his petty name-calling and lack of a plan, he has changed how politicians campaign. This year will be the worst.

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Exactly half a year out from the election, it’s really way too early to make any prediction of who will win. Not that that stops the rest of the media from salivating over one meaningless poll after another. However, there is one thing we can tell you with absolute certainty: Whatever happens in the next six months will be extraordinarily stupid.

And when the beginning of November rolls around, most Americans will be ready to elect anybody not named Joe Biden or Donald Trump. The joke is on them, of course, because those are the choices the two major parties have saddled them with.

No matter who prevails, we believe there will be a palpable sense of relief in the country that this election cycle is finally over. But, surprise!… It won’t be. 

If Trump loses, there will be endless whining and lawsuits, and if Biden loses, there will be lots of whining and lawsuits. The main difference is that the potential to engage in acts of violence is greater among the MAGA cult. 

If you don’t believe us, please look back to our last pre-election prediction from 2020, when we said that the worst-case scenario for the US might just be a narrow Trump loss. Even though it wasn’t that narrow once all the votes were counted, about six months later a mob of people stormed the Capitol and wanted to hang the vice president. 

In other words, we know what we are talking about. 

But it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to figure out how incredibly dumb things will get. 

We are reminded of the words a high school principal directs at Adam Sandler’s character, Billy Madison, in the movie of the same name:

Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to  anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

In our case, all Americans will be dumber by the time they are asked to choose the next president and Congress.

Now, you may ask yourself why that is. 

First, you have two candidates who are so obviously flawed (although their respective supporters will go the extra mile to overlook even the most apparent problems) that the barrage of ads the campaigns will direct at each other will rarely be about issues or a positive vision for the country, but rather about making members of one party hate the nominee of the other… and it doesn’t take much to do that.

We have witnessed a prelude to this in 2016 and 2020, of course, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. Things are about to get much worse this year. 

One of the reasons is that Trump has so effectively gaslit his supporters into believing any words that come out of his mouth, especially in the case of the Big Lie, that he doesn’t even have to bother coming up with anything resembling an actual plan or platform. 

Case in point is a new interview with Time, in which he doesn’t lay out an agenda but rather an authoritarian blueprint for how he wants to reshape the country… a blueprint driven by fantasies of punishment and retribution against his perceived enemies. 

In addition, his various criminal trials have shoved the former president increasingly toward mental derangement, and, if he faces any kind of repercussions for alleged crimes from falsifying business records and obstruction of justice to stealing classified documents and staging a coup — or even if he ends up spending a night in jail for contempt of court — he will rile up his supporters with his version of events even more. 

So, whatever takes place in the coming six months will happen on a powder keg… and the fuse will be lit as soon as the former president gets to the “find out” stage of “$%&* around and find out.”

But it’s no longer just Trump. 

It is (correctly) said about the former president that he corrupts whatever he touches. In that way, he is like an anti-King Midas. Anything Trump touches turns to $#*!.

That is also true for US politics.

The former president has lowered the bar for discourse and the acceptable behavior of politicians so far that not only the presidential but also congressional and local elections will largely be fought on that level.

Just take a look at this tweet from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), a self-described “centrist”:

It took President Bozo — oops, we mean Biden — 10 days to address the college protests and he didn’t bother to condemn the terrorist sympathizers.

“President Bozo”? What are you, five years old? But nowadays, giving people childish nicknames is just par for the course. 

Only 15 years ago, another South Carolinian, former Rep. Joe Wilson (R), was skewered for yelling “You lie!” during then-President Barack Obama’s first joint address to Congress. 

Back then, this was considered to be a staggering breach of etiquette and decorum. Today, he would just earn a shrug… and an invite to appear on Fox News. 

Speaking of, a more partisan media landscape is doing nothing to tamp down any of this rhetoric. The opposite is true. Fox News especially seems intent on riling up Republicans as much as possible to get them to turn out for Trump. 

Here, for example, one of their morning show hosts and a guest are yucking it up about how Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), should get a hammer and not a Medal of Freedom. As you may recall, the elderly Paul Pelosi was attacked in his home with a hammer by a man who was waiting for his wife. 

The power of partisan (and social) media is a big part of what this is all about: Politicians are competing for opportunities to raise their own profiles (and campaign dollars), and outlandish rhetoric and stunts are one way to do that by “going viral.”

You may detect a pattern here: All of these examples, from childish name-calling to harnessing the power of free media, are part of what allowed Trump to become president and develop a cult-like following.

So don’t look for any campaigns on the issues. Most of them will be about trading petty insults, distorting records, and taking things out of context… and campaigns will have billions of dollars with which to inundate (and annoy) Americans with ads and social media posts. 

The predictable result of all this will be that the majority of voters everywhere won’t like whoever it is they just elected… and that’s not likely to change any time soon.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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