Every now and then, I am overcome by an all encompassing sense of dread and panic. The realities of the Trump administration’s vicious war on the American public, the environment, and our sense of reality sets in and I can’t help but feel completely hopeless. With the Democrats out of power and the Republican Party controlling every branch of government, it seems there is little that can be done to effectively resist Trumpism and the unique threat it presents to human dignity and our species’ survival.
This sense of dread can come out of nowhere, triggered by small events that have an outsized effect on my mental state. It could be a tweet from the president, a new social program the administration has decided to defund, or another lie Trump tells. It compounds to create a feeling of powerlessness in the face of overwhelming evil — a sense that everything I hold dear is under assault by a force that is undeterred and more powerful than ever. As Bill Maher has often stated, we are witnessing “a slow moving coup” that could upend two and a half centuries of American democracy.
I now understand — at least to a degree — what people went through in places like Germany during the 1930’s. When civil society collapsed under the weight of a despotic leader, it must have felt like a complete collapse of reality. The world as they knew it simply vanished and Germans found themselves in a new reality created by sadistic monsters. While Trump is not a mass killer, he is still a fascist, and he aims to rebuild the country according to his own terrifying mental landscape. We now live in Trump’s world, and it is getting crazier by the day.
As the days, weeks, and months pass, Trump grows more and more powerful. His assault on the rule of law is ignored by his own party, his ability to crush dissent is becoming ever more refined, and his almost complete grip on the minds of his sheep like followers is becoming scarier by the minute. “If you had any doubts that the GOP is now a cult, this week’s primary results should put them to rest,” wrote Andrew Sullivan last week. “Republican voters have decided that they will follow their leader no matter what he says, and if that means changing their minds on a dime, so be it.”
“Take Canada. Not so long ago, it was funny to attack our benevolent neighbor to the north. Countless episodes of South Park wouldn’t have worked without the baseline of reality that Canada is about as good and boring a neighbor as you can possibly imagine,” continued Sullivan.
“But Trump has the power to change minds instantly. So in February this year, 94 percent had a favorable view of Canada. Now, only 66 percent have a favorable view, with 13 in opposition and 22 percent suddenly unsure. Only two years ago, free trade was as solid a shibboleth for the GOP as it gets; now, it’s anathema, even for Larry Kudlow! And watching every Republican senator, apart from McCain, Flake, and Corker (all retiring), stay utterly silent after their president praised a mass-murdering dictator and gave him a global PR coup … well, it’s no longer surprising, but it should remain shocking.”
The Republican Party exists now only in name — it is the Party of Trump, his power over the base so strong Republicans are terrified to challenge him.
“The greatest danger to congressional Republicans of challenging Trump is not a tongue-lashing from Lindsey Graham—it’s incurring the wrath of the president himself,” wrote the Atlantic’s David A. Graham. “Primary results in Virginia and South Carolina show just how powerfully the president has remade his party at the electoral level.”
“In South Carolina, Trump offered a late endorsement to Kate Arrington, who challenged Representative Mark Sanford in a GOP primary. Arrington won,” continued Graham. “Sanford is, by any coherent definition of the term, far more conservative than Trump, but he dared to criticize the president, and in doing so angered the Republican base in a state that has repeatedly elected him, even after his extramarital affair in 2009 when he served as South Carolina’s governor. In Virginia, GOP voters nominated for Senate Corey Stewart, who has called himself “Trump before Trump”; supports neo-Confederates; and has praised the open anti-Semite Paul Nehlen, who’s running for Congress in Wisconsin.”
The War on America
There should now be no doubt that the Trump administration is waging an all out war on the American public — a war that is escalating at breakneck speed. The non-stop attacks on the media and the president’s incessant lying is a smokescreen for his administration’s true agenda. Trump and the Republican party’s aim is to destroy the poor, women, minorities, and immigrants, and wreck every aspect of the government designed to help them. Public health, schools, Planned Parenthood, environmental regulation — all of it coming under attack by rich white men who will stop at nothing to enrich themselves and entrench their position in society.
I subscribe to the notion that Trump is moving towards an all out coup of the US government. He has stated on several occasions that he would prefer it if he could rule unchallenged, that he wishes his people would “sit up at attention,” as they do in North Korea. Men like Donald Trump do not go quietly. They stay in power until they are forcibly removed, and given the GOP has shown no inclination to keep him in check, it is hard to see how this ends well. Trump conforms to the exact archetype of a fascist dictator — a corrupt, ego maniac who lies as easily as he breathes, and uses the organs of government to enrich himself and his friends. The dictator dismantles systems of checks and balances, demands complete loyalty from his subjects, and attacks law enforcement agencies until they bend to his will.
This is happening in America, and those who do not see it are either complicit or so ignorant that they cannot be reasoned with. Those of us who do see this are duty-bound to fight, no matter how bad it gets.
As bad as it might seem, the only option we have is to stay positive. How can this be done? I have some suggestions.
How to Win
Firstly, it is important to remember that there is no way of knowing the future. It has not happened yet, and it is determined by the actions we take now. If we do not act, we can be assured it will get worse. If we do act, we at least have a chance.
Secondly, it is important to remember how unpopular Trump is with the majority of the country. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by almost 3 million people. He still has a terrible approval rating, and the country is turning blue at a pace the GOP is truly terrified by. A friend of mine is a “Never Trump” conservative with deep connections within the party, and he has told me on numerous occasions that the party is genuinely worried about its survival as a political force in America. “They are very, very concerned about what is happening around the country, and they think it’s going to get much, much worse,” he told me. My friend also believes the GOP will likely lose both the House and the Senate — a result that would change the dynamics of the country over night.
Thirdly, we must always remember that meaningful victories take time and require a lot of sacrifice. The more we give up, the better it will feel when this is all over. In my darkest moments, I recall Winston Churchill’s steadfast defiance in dramatically harder times. “If you are going through hell,” Churchill said, “keep going.”
There are really only two options for those of us committed to beating Trumpism, and that is to give up or keep going. And when I remember what our ancestors went through all those years ago in order to defeat the most evil political movement in human history, the least I can do is keep going. Trump cannot win if we don’t give up, so that is our only option — to defy with all our might and refuse to succumb to his lunacy.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,” said Churchill.
So buy your “Fuck Trump” T-shirt today, and keep on keeping on.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.