The danger Trump poses to democracy and stability in the US is also very real… and of course it would be amplified if he ever returned to the White House again. But he won’t.
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There are plenty of reasons to be afraid of Donald Trump, but maybe it’s time to stop being intimidated by him.
That may sound contradictory, but these two things are not the same.
For example, imagine a three-year-old waving a loaded gun. That’s frightening, but it’s not intimidating.
It’s like that with Trump. Obviously, people should be afraid of a malignant narcissist who leads a cult of heavily armed, gullible idiots. That’s a scary prospect… and it’s going to be a problem for as long as he is around.
As a result, the danger he poses to democracy and stability in the US is also very real… and of course it would be amplified if he ever returned to the White House again.
But he won’t (we’ll get to that in a minute), and that makes him a lot less intimidating than he once was.
There was a time when he seemed like an irresistible force in politics. But, like everything else he has ever been involved in, that was a fraud.
Just look at the numbers: Trump lost the popular vote twice (including by 7 million votes in 2020). Without timely Russian interference, an Electoral College skewed toward him, some help from the FBI, and an assist from news outlets that gave him billions of dollars in free publicity because he is good for ratings, he never would have seen the inside of the Oval Office.
Under his leadership, the GOP has underperformed in elections, and, in many cases, the candidates he has endorsed failed to prevail in winnable races.
Once in office, Trump’s actual achievements were unremarkable apart from getting a lot of right-wing justices confirmed to the federal bench.
Based on that meager record of accomplishment, Trump has somehow crafted the narrative that he is an unstoppable political force, a gift from God, and the greatest president of all time.
When you hear him tell it, the US was a disaster right before he took office, became a magical wonderland of prosperity during his term, and immediately turned into a hellscape again in 2021. And, of course, the only reason why he could ever lose an election would be if it were stolen.
If you compare the facts and his rhetoric, it’s almost comical.
The tale of Donald Trump, political superstar, is not the first persona he has created out of thin air.
The former president may be a moron, but he has realized that if you tell a shameless lie often enough (one of his few true skills), people will believe it.
At an early age, Trump made himself out to be a successful businessman when, in fact, his empire was funded by his daddy and he kept running casinos into the ground, thereby becoming one of the very few exceptions to the rule that “the house always wins.”
Later, much of his wealth depended on a shell game involving loans from different banks.
It worked because Trump is just really good at conning people… so good, in fact, that some of the things he has pretended to be have become true.
In business, he turned the carefully crafted character of “self-made billionaire” into a lucrative gig as reality-TV star of “The Apprentice” because people believed the con.
In politics, it was the same.
At the start of the 2016 presidential campaign, he was a joke who had to pay people $50 to wave signs during his announcement to make it seem like he had supporters.
What started as a typical Trump con eventually turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He kept going on TV at every opportunity, which gave him an air of ubiquity and the appearance of an electoral force to be reckoned with.
He made his rallies look like the place to be. First of all, they were televised. In addition, he kept inflating at every turn the number of people who came to see him, all the way up to his easily debunked assertion that his inauguration was the most-attended of any president.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of the appearance of enthusiasm for a party or a candidate, and Trump is a master at playing that game.
That was once again on display Thursday, when he arrived to be arrested in Atlanta in a 19-motorcycle, 16-vehicle motorcade. It’s all about creating an illusion of power… and the dumb media plays along.
And it keeps working.
The current GOP primary is a perfect example. No other Republican is going to defeat Trump because they think he is unbeatable.
That’s why his rivals don’t treat him like any other candidate. They don’t attack him because they fear him. They go along with his Big Lie because they think they have to.
But, in doing so, they give him actual power. They make him seem invincible — someone who could only be defeated by cheating.
What they should do is laugh at and ridicule him. They should call him a loser for going down against Joe Biden, one of the weakest presidential candidates in many years, by 7 million votes.
For them, it’s probably too late. None of the current candidates poses a threat to Trump.
However, the former president’s weakness will be exposed once he has won the nomination, and then he will become a lot less intimidating — especially if the media stops carrying his water for him.
But even if news organizations put Trump front and center, he is going to lose again.
Once he is omnipresent in Americans’ lives again, enough of them will remember the chaos, the endless lies, the mindless braggadocio, and the meanness of the man and his movement.
This is the “stable genius” who mused about people injecting disinfectants into their bodies at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hilariously, one of the few accomplishments of the Trump administration was to get the COVID-19 vaccines approved. But that is not something he takes credit for because his low-information voters think vaccines do more harm than good or that COVID was all a hoax to begin with… which is why they died at higher rates than others.
However, the pandemic was real, and it showed Americans that it does matter who is president.
The numbers already tell us that Trump is doomed.
Just last week, an AP poll showed that 53 percent of Americans would “definitely” not support him in 2024, and another 11 percent said they would “probably” not vote for him.
In a close, two-man race, that’s not where you want to be.
And Trump will get worse. His malignant narcissism will shine through more and more once his court cases begin and he finally faces the prospect of suffering consequences for his actions. All of the actions that led to his coup will be rehashed, and Americans will remember how horrified they were on January 6.
In addition, his nutjob supporters won’t help.
So, while this is probably not a popular opinion (yet), Biden (or any other Democratic nominee) should count himself lucky if he gets to go up against Trump next year.
People might say: But Trump is so dangerous. Isn’t that a gamble?
The former president is no longer distinctively scary. Eight years after his emergence as the head of the GOP, the entire party now consists of toddlers wielding weapons.
What does make Trump unique is that he is like a human boggart.
In the magical world of Harry Potter, boggarts are shapeshifters that take the form of whatever one fears the most. But, when the “Riddikulus” charm is cast, boggarts turn into a comical version of themselves and, once you laugh at them, they vanish.
That’s Trump in a nutshell. Treat him like a pathetic loser, and watch his nimbus of power disappear.