It is possible, I think, to narrow the views of the 45th President of the United States into one word: corrosive. Some might choose: divisive. A fair choice, if not for the nation’s centenarian divide upon race, ecumenical and other religious organizations, and ideologies. Others might joust with the word despicable or slash with the name repugnant, but it is no surprise that Trump did not fit into the normalized, bureaucratic outlines of past Presidents. He’s always been one to step out of line. From the inception of his political career, he voiced the racist exploits of the right’s fringe — soon to be its center — with advocacy of birtherism.
Even before then, however, his worldview was hideous. He fought to bar blacks from his buildings, called for the death penalty against five children wrongfully accused of rape (the oldest was 16), and has often let his philosophy wave naked in the wind like an ugly flag by stereotyping and slurring against those who do not look like him — in plain view.
Yet, corrosive is the single-term that comes to mind. For everything he touches, everything his inherited wealth and privilege grazes, either crumbles beneath the weight of ego and hypocrisy or worse, turns itself into a reflection of his image. In his four-years as President, he has reshaped the image of America. Not into something it never was, no. But into a three-dimensional rendering of the sins we let abuse our countrymen, the roots we allowed to poison our electoral systems, and the lies we let fill our ideologies. The toxicity and bigotry have always been there, underneath the surface. We just needed someone as brash, pompous, and embodied by the privilege of whiteness to feel invulnerable in letting our truths soak in the sunlight.
Ironically, it began with the clearest of intentions and the most absurd of circumstances.
From where did a political force like Trumpism sprout? Was it merely the ancestral talisman of whiteness that continued to provoke and conquer when change began to foam out of the seams it once blocked? Was it an evolution of a Republican party embracing its fringe’s popularity, placing its hand too far into the fire for it to simply pull out? Was it the repercussions of the collective verdict of the Democratic parties’ abandonment of everyday economic issues burdened by the middle-class as so many pundits quickly suggested? In this last thesis, we are led to believe that Trump is the product of a backlash against contempt for the white working-class.
This was a comforting thought for most; it provided a problem with pragmatic solutions. Policies could be drafted and delivered to prevent another President like Trump from rising into the White House, but even if signed and delivered, it would only solve a percentage of the problem.
The more accurate but troublesome answer lies in our first two questions, as it became clear Trump was the result of an enraged White America, rural and urban. Trump won white people with college degrees (+3), white people without them (+37), whites in midwestern Illinois (+11), whites in mid-Atlantic New Jersey (+12), and whites in the Sun Belt’s New Mexico (+5). In no state did Trump’s white support dip below 40%, and he owes this in large part to his party of affiliation: The Republican Party. Despite its growing attempts to diversify, the party of Lincoln has long been cultivated and accumulated by white voters.
Unlike the white, male candidates before him, however, Trump proved the whiteness of the part by the results of voting for a candidate who inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists.” A candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who, as President, claimed to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” Grudgingly did Trump denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, willingly Trump mocked the disabled, brazenly he withstood multiple accusations of sexual violence, and yet, White supporters flocked to his side despite a fellow White candidate across the aisle.
Some of it was gender strifes. A glimmer of it was an economic backlash, but the presumptive answer to be drawn from the voting patterns, the polling, and the narrative of American history is that Trump is a response to America’s first Black Presidency.
There was a swathe of Black intellectuals, Black journalists, Muslim activists, immigration lawyers, and progressive politicians that signed their name to this answer. I am not the first to make such a suggestion. I am perhaps the last to the party, but it is clear from the support for his “Muslim ban,” his scapegoating of immigrants, his defending of police brutality, his calls for violence against those who argue for diversity and racial justice, and his economic ideals, that Trumpism is the long planted branch of white supremacy that extends back to his forefathers, and presumably, my own.
The tragedy of his electoral victory will be wrought larger than most can probably imagine; it has already spurred the GOP into a tailspin of devoted lunacy and power-driven amnesia. Trump exposed the patina of decency with his inauguration. With his victory, he proved to be the example of how whiteness escapes one from punishments for demagoguery, for lies, for association with criminal and immoral affairs. He was elected as a threat to the winds of change, and the Black, Brown, Muslim, Jewish, Feminist, Gay, Lesbian, and Trans’ bodies carried by its current. Some of them supported him, most did not, and more of us suffered the price of his election through law and order.
That price would be paid via embarrassment by the white, straight majority, the troublesome desire to be patriotic in a time where the so-called “patriots” cheered for the separations of mother and children at the border, claiming it to be the actions of a “law and order” President. He followed through with the promises he made to White America, however. Despite his Republican colleagues calming the fires with nudges of caution by claiming Trump’s campaign was hyperbolic and would somehow be ensnared with civility and common-man conservatism.
Yet, within the first few days of his office, what we all came to predict came to pass as the President immediately rectified the executive office’s normalcy to match the envisionment of his supporters. The media was no longer a staple of information delivery or even mild grounding of someone enclothed in immense power, it was merely a frenzy for Trump to exemplify his boorish vernacular, his ideology, his worldview — a camera on him at all times to spread his message.
After he presented his inaugural address, which read as a rebuke of the values some were continuing to make true in a nation soaked in the failure to confront its own history. He echoed the feeling of vilification for being White, for being a “patriot,” by lamenting the capital city, the government, the congressmen and congresswomen, and the senators as an “establishment.” “Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”
The treachery began there and continued for the remainder of the week with his first full-fledged assault on fact-based realities with the insistence that the attendance of his inauguration was higher than Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Trump ordered his body of worshippers and his apolitical loyalists of bureaucracy to adhere to a manipulated reality that placed Trump atop of the result of decades of work to construct the reality of a Black man sitting in the oval office. He even went as far as to induce the National Park Service to produce doctored photographs or compelled the White House press secretary to lie about a crowd’s size on national television.
His authoritarian tendencies or homages would not halt there, as he struggled to lead in times of sorrow. In the aftermath of the Vegas shooting, which claimed the distinction of the most deadly mass shooting in the nation’s history, he struggled to reflect sympathy and instead focused on the criticisms of his deniers. In the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, he irritably threw paper towels into a crowd of men, women, and children in need of financial aid, in need of more than a President like Trump could offer a country of non-whites. In the wakes of Charlottesville, he would patronize those of color with his snarkish tone and soften the glances at those who fought for White Supremacy: “there were very fine people on both sides… on both sides.” Later, when en route to Jamestown to mark the 400th anniversary of the representative assembly of European settlers in the Americas, he would attack the foundation of immigration to spawn new ideas, new cultures, and new ideologies to move us further into progress. But immigrants in Trump’s America could not speak out of turn, they must remain silent until they were allowed to speak, specifically in Trump’s aim were the four freshman members of Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a Puerto Rican; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, an African American; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a Palestinian American; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a Somali American.
It was clear from the outset what Trump set out to achieve in his first few years of office, to erase the work of a Black president by repealing and replacing his signature accomplishments, from the Affordable Care Act to DACA, from a wall to keep out immigrants to a travel ban against Muslims, to even the reversal of two oil-pipeline projects, including one through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which was opposed by more than 200 Indigenous nations.
His reversals of progress did not halt with ethnicities and races; they continued with gender identities and sexual orientations. While his verbiage tilted more towards those of opposite races, his running mates’ ideologies were formulated by evangelical testimonies that fought against the continuing fight for gay and lesbian equality and trans equality. Trump granted their wishes too, revoking health care protections for Transgender people, undermining section 1557, supporting religious discrimination, banning transgender people from military service, supporting employment discrimination, appointing anti-LGBTQ judges, and once joked about Pence’s desire to “hang” us all.
Despite learning that he lies, cheats, extorts, refuses to show compassion, was incapable of conveying sympathy, unable to fathom imparting empathy towards anyone except himself, and simulates patriotism with flags and gestures. Despite uncovering that his campaign scrambled to get help from Russia in 2016 when offered Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Despite the divulging that Trump attempted to obstruct an investigation, his party stood beside him in defiance of logic, values, and ethics.
His supporters did not flee; they stood near the blast radius and spearheaded Supreme court justices despite concern for their ethics to satisfy judge-starved Republicans like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY); they anchored themselves to his conspiracies to satisfy their own racially driven ideologies like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); they even stood next to him when he withdrew us from the agenda of our allies in exchange for lobbyist funding.
Trump was no longer the outsider that was harvested by the fringe and empowered by whiteness who wandered into the GOP that portrayed itself as the party of law and order. The GOP was now Trump, and it basted in his shadow by choice.
It was important to remember, throughout the 1461 days Trump has been President of the United States, that everything that was occurring was normal. While Presidents like Regan subtly and not so silently poised America to be the land of White aristocracy and Christian hegemony, they sought to plant the same seeds of conservative supremacy that rebuked facts, augmented division, and yearned for control of the tides of change. The best part of a presidency like Trump is that it has forced young white progressives, like myself, to confront the integrity of America. The lies that professed the roots of white supremacy and systemic oppression to be a relic of Jamestown, not Minneapolis. The fallacies that America’s actions reflected a country that, ultimately, hoped to correct the arc of moral justice when, in fact, we often find ourselves being the culprit of its arc. No President was as brash as Trump, as foolish, or maybe, as dangerous, but the evolution of meritocracy has been stalled before by the shadows of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. It was only unique to Trump in that nothing was hidden from the naked eye; it was forced into the light by the confidence of privilege or the idiocy of egomania — either way, we could no longer ignore the bald-faced lie painted with the blood of America’s sins.
Yet, still, Trump and his allies boasted about their heroism and victories. They pompously strode with the veil of ignorance and willingly fell into the laps of every nightmare scenario or every fantasized vision of any anti-American adversary who prayed that our democracy would fall victim to its own pitfalls — beginning with a government shutdown in January.
By nature, the mechanics of an empowered executive and bicameral congress imbue the body politic with passion for one’s ideological team. Yet, the shutdown that occurred in December of 2018 and ended in late January of 2019 managed to become the longest in U.S. history and featured the President at his deal-making finest. The President wanted to appropriate $5.7 billion for border wall funding along the southern border. To do so, he had to reluctantly meet with Democratic leadership, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), both of whom refused to appropriate the funding.
During the first round of negotiations, Trump remarked, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security…I will be the one to shut [the government] down. I’m not going to blame you for it…I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.” He would surrender ground three days later, then be bullied back into by criticism from conservative media. Amidst the second round of negotiations, Pelosi and Schumer told the press that the President threatened to “keep the government closed for a very long period of time. Months or even years.” Later that same day, the President willingly admitted to this threat, adding, “I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing.”
What would typically be seen as a historically terrible political blunder was washed away with the bothsidesism and the conspiratorial hemorrhaging of a Republican party swallowed by the devils it chose to admonish.
In the end, after a three-week funding measure, the House and the Senate reached an agreement that included $1.3 billion for 55 miles of steel border fencing with enough votes to override the President’s veto. However, the President would also act against both parties by blocking a provision to pay back federal contractors out of pocket from the shutdown and then go even further by declaring the border a national emergency in hopes of securing $8 billion for border security.
The audacity, the win-at-all-costs mentality echoed by Trump and his allies, was staunching. Never before had a President willingly chosen to be the adversary to advance his agenda; thrown himself under the proverbial bus in the name of his envisioned success; willingly allowed himself to be painted the fool; to be drawn as an unempathetic commander who is willing to cost the world to get what he wants.
It was easy, even suggestive, to mock his foolishness. From when he stared at the solar eclipse to when he wanted to buy Greenland, to the bad photo ops and the suggestion that a hurricane off the east coast would arrive in middle-America, it was a snug fit to bask in the President’s idiocy if even to ignore the damage of aforementioned idiocy as an executive official in governance. It would cost the U.S. dearly not to have a serious figure in charge, not to have an administration with qualified members, not to have a government operating at full capacity without the hitch of stupidity or cretinous ideologues.
He would cost the world, too, beginning with the malignant decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. At the time, the U.S. had about 1,000 special forces on the ground, all of whom held a sense of stability across a vast swath of Syria while keeping Assad’s regime and Russian and Iranian backers in check. For a President who viewed foreign policy in a misanthropic transactional nature, the Kurds (a local ethnic alliance for U.S. forces) made good “business” sense. They were a low-cost and high-reward investment. But the President’s apathy spreads far and wide, telling press officials, “it has nothing to do with us” and describing Syria as “sand and death.”
General of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Kobae Abdi, warned that if the U.S. did not intervene any further, he would be forced to cut a deal with Assad and Russia for protection from Turkey. The President would not grant an olive branch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan announced a pact that saw Russian and Turkish forces take joint control of Kurdish-held-territory. In a matter of moments, the President managed to upend the hopes of Rojava; swing the balance of power in Syria decisively in favor of Assad, Russia, and Iran; and risk giving a second wind to ISIS.
This and the other witless initiatives achieved by Trump and his feckless allies would eventually provide enough ample evidence to influence our allies to move on without us. Countries recognized that the America that once led with hypocrisy but occasionally well-intentioned natures was arriving at the expiration date. Either the famed golden city on a hill would crumble beneath the weight of its failures or grow in the relief of its future successes, and no one was willing to gamble their safety to wait and find out.
Since 2016, America’s international reputation has worsened. The world watched and answered the question of whether their former respects for America had changed, and they had. Some 70 percent of South Koreans and more than 60 percent of Japanese — two nations whose friendship America needs in order to push back against Chinese influence in Asia — view the U.S. as a “major threat.” In Germany, our key ally in Europe, far more people fear Trump than fear Russian President Putin, Chinese President Jinping, or North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
Everyone everywhere else has adjusted to the reality of a declining U.S. influence. In Libya, America has washed its hands and left Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates to manage a long-running civil war. In Africa, America retreated to allow Russia and China to overtake the role of outside influencers. The recent scare of Russia and Turkey jointly redrawing borders in the Caucasus, following the brief ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, is a reminder of what this means in practice. The U.S. formerly had ambitions in the Caucasus, from resources to politics. Now no one in the region is especially interested in what Americans think, if they even bother to ask.
While his words would stir the media frenzy for its lack of ethical value or professionalism, Trump’s allies were finally seeking their promised rewards in exchange for his time in the sun. While the world chastised him for refusing to attend former Senator McCain’s funeral, a man he vilified for being a prisoner of war: “I like people who weren’t captured.” While we were distracted by his racial dog-whistling, he assailed against the city of Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cumming (D-Md): “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess.” They spent their time moving embassies in Jerusalem, a move that raised tensions and cost lives. They spent their term ignoring crimes committed by foreign nations against U.S. journalists.
It was easy, tempting, even seductive to be allured by the President’s rhetoric. His audacity to allow his words to fill in the blanks of all those second-guessing the dangers of his Presidency, of those pretending that his administration was no more harmful than any that came before, for those comforting themselves that those around him would protect us — for them, and for others, the actions of this President proved all our fears right. The words were merely breadcrumbs some of us chose to take seriously.
There is a level of fear, I assume, to speak out against the leadership of Trump. On the ground level, voters might fear losing family members, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers. On the state level, their access to federal funding, to emergency care, might find itself hindered by a spiteful executive. On the national level, it is election-based. In comparison to other authoritarian regimes, there is the waking anxiety of mass murders for opposing the regime’s political interests. In America, loyalists cower to the potential of being attacked by Trump on Twitter, to be mocked, or embarrassed.
This criticism — volleyed by many after the transcripts of the President’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was publicly available and widely noted that the President attempted to extort a foreign ally for political weaponry on his impending Democratic opponent Joe Biden — would soon find evidence as Republican leadership, senators, and people inside the administration used various rationales to justify their opposition to impeachment. They’d seen the same evidence we had. All of them were aware that the President attempted to use military funding to force a foreign leader into investigating a domestic political opponent — all of them excluding Mitt Romney (R-UT). They did not use this initial opportunity to rid themselves and their party of an operative value system architectured around the pillars of corruption, nepotism, and bigotry.
Instead, Fiona Hill — an immigrant success story and a true believer in the American Constitution — found the courage to speak out against Republicans who promulgated a false story of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election: “The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016.”
Instead, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman also found that same courage as a fellow immigrant and reported on the improper phone call as a member of the National Security Council. He gave his testimony with the comfort of the American political system: “In Russia, offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life. But, as an American citizen and public servant … I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.” Days later, his career would be abruptly cut short by a vengeful President who had him physically escorted from the White House.
If the Senate had removed the President by impeachment; if the Cabinet had invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment; if they had not been so concerned about maintaining their proximity to power, their donors; if Pence, Pompeo, and Barr had not believed that God had elected them for this “biblical moment” — then maybe the plunder would not have continued to worsen in March.
The U.S. and the world would be plunged into a crisis by a coronavirus strain never before seen that had no cure. The World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control offered bad press in the process of trying to scientifically understand a dangerous anomaly that was rapidly infecting the shores of countries and the systems of their economies, but the President was even worse. He led a chaotic federal response. He planned to transfer power to the states, but only those who supported him, and hoped to rely on the private market to save his election ambitions.
The costliest errors began early: the initial U.S. travel ban on January 31 applied only to non-U.S. travelers and only to travelers from China, though the virus was “already known to be present in Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, Finland, and the United Kingdom.” The federal government never provided symptom screening on arrival, nor was there quarantining.
He claimed the virus would weaken “when we [got] into April, in the warmer weather,” he promised the outbreak would be temporary. He swore the pandemic was “fading away,” that it was “under control” and “totally harmless.” He blamed Mexico, China, the Obama administration, Europe, the media, the W.H.O., the C.D.C., scientists, Andrew Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer, and Biden. He suggested in a briefing on April 23 that his medical experts should research the use of powerful light and injected disinfectants to treat COVID-19, and when pressed by Axios in a jarring interview about the loss of life in America, he answered: “They are dying. That’s true. It is what it is…. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”
Eight months into the pandemic, over 80% of U.S. nurses reported they were still reusing at least one type of single-use P.P.E.; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided some COVID-related leave, but it didn’t cover most federal employees or apply to employers with more than 500 employees; the administration never mandated standards for occupational exposures. Thousands of Americans had already died of the virus when Trump signaled that ignoring or actively violating public-health mandates was a patriotic act. He spurged on rioters who refused to abide by public safety policies, tweeting: LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” In October, after an atrocious debate between himself and the Democratic nominee in which he refused to condemn white supremacists, he tested positive for COVID-19. More than a dozen members of his circle also tested positive.
American presidents have mixed records with epidemics. For every Barack Obama, whose administration professionally managed the threats from Ebola and the H1N1 virus, or George W. Bush, who tackled AIDS in Africa, there’s a Woodrow Wilson, who mishandled the influenza pandemic, or a Ronald Reagan, who was derelict in the face of AIDS. But neither Reagan nor Wilson actively promoted risky behavior for political points, nor did they personally obstruct federal-state partnerships that were meant to protect fellow Americans from the disease. On those points, Trump stands alone and he has cost 400,000 Americans their lives, 12.6 million Americans their jobs, and eventually 70.6 million people their President — though I’m sure that wasn’t by design.
Trump never won reelection, and he never accepted his loss. He became the first incumbent to mount his office’s powers in a coordinated effort to overturn the Presidential election. The potential of a loss became clear when the Democratic challenger passed the superficial political test of not being “sleepy.” The reality of it became even more apparent when the D.N.C. actively spent funds and political investment on the reality of voting by mail in November, while the President warned his followers to vote in person. State and local election officials looked for ways to boost participation without being the source of the virus’ furthering spread. In practical terms, this meant taking the pressure off same-day voting by encouraging voting by mail and advance voting. Many understood that the tallying of ballots for the 2020 elections would be slow in states that started counting only on Election Day. For weeks Trump planted the seeds of unfairness, of doubt. He poisoned the system even further on election night by presenting himself in the East Wing of the White House and claiming that he wanted the election processes to stop so that they couldn’t “find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.” He threatened that he and his cronies would “be going to the U.S. Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop,” and propagated that this was a “fraud on the American public.” Trump continued to accelerate his disinformation campaign, as the results continued to disfavor his chances, seeking court injunctions and relief from Republican state officials.
If the legacy of the worst President was beholden by Warren G. Harding for his post humorous revelations about corruption in his administration, if it was chained to the slaveholding sympathies and anti-abolitionism policies of Pennsylvanian and New Hampshire democrats Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, and if that legacy is not endowed to the acts of proud slaver and ethnic cleanser who’s been immortalized on the face of our currency in Andrew Jackson, then it must then be circumvented to adhere to the bumbling governance and spiteful tenure of Donald J. Trump.
If we are not to equate the atrocities committed in our origins, then allow us to compare him to his moderate contemporaries of Woodrow Wilson, who presided over an apartheid system in the nation’s capital; of Herbert Hoover, who helped drive the U.S. economy into the ground during the Great Depression; of George W. Bush who’s impulses after 9/11 were to weaken American civil liberties in the name of protecting them; and even of Nixon. Often contrasted against one another, Nixon set the standard for modern Presidential failures as the first to resign from the office, a man who intervened indirectly to scuttle peace negotiations in Paris over the Vietnam War. But Trump triumphed Nixon, with his refusal to acknowledge the election results, filing over 60 lawsuits to contest the election processes, lacking any actual evidence of widespread fraud for any of them they lost in the courts. Despite having exploited every constitutional option, Trump refused to give up, and then what many feared came to pass.
Losing an election is nothing to be ashamed of, but that is not the philosophy of Trump and his heirs, but rather theirs is of indefinite victory. In the first week of the new year, the President spoke with Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger about the 2020 Presidential election results in Georgia. He confounded them with anecdotes about the stories of “fraud” and berated them with the necessity of loyalty, saying, “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”
He must’ve been stunned by their refusal to admonish or even grant the President any intellectual ground in their conversation. They let him rave and rant, but their refusal to be a sycophant in his circus of privileged power must’ve drowned him with rage. It did to his supporters, all of whom kindled with fury about the disrespect and lack of loyalty these state legislators showed to their führer, which clearly explains the Trump ideology — if one were to partake in dissecting it.
It is impossible for them to fathom losing, not fairly at least. They expect to be cheated; they garner the false victimhood of perceived racism, oppression, and even gentrification. It’s not economical or material; it’s macho and psychological — the sheer insecurity of refusing to be lesser than someone because of their own shortcomings. One cannot be dumber than others if their version of the truth is not accurate. One cannot be weaker than someone if their voice is louder. One cannot lose an election if their opponent does not willingly admit defeat or cheating because Trump and his allies are zealots of power. Not to use that power, but to abuse it, to feel untouchable, unreachable. They cannot fathom defeat because for them to understand it, they would have to confront other truths that would surely demoralize, surely ruin the portrait they’ve created for themselves and the world. They would no longer exist without it, not really.
Sure, some joined the bandwagon in good faith with legitimate examples that might cause anxiety or one to spur into the flames of the last-chance resort. Still, they had plenty of genuine opportunities to voice rationalized disapproval. They could starve off his vocalized views like one might ignore a racist uncle, seeing the avenues for their selfish political greed while casting away the rhetoric of a man they know to be unjust. If they remained a passenger, if they continued to partake in his treachery, his demagoguery, they were no different from his Proud Boy fellowship, his white supremacist worshippers.
They were as much a part of his sickening action to pardon four war criminals, his thuggish move to grant his loyal political allies an escape from law and order, and they are supporters in his reprehensible action to incite insurrection and sedition against the U.S. Capitol and its elected representation of the body politic.
They passively, or actively, but undoubtedly supported the denouncement of the democratic process, the victimization of the cathedral where liberty is housed, the cheers for “hangings,” the assaults against law enforcement, and the escalation for further violence in the future.
The false vindication of a media ecosystem’s illusion and a political party’s collusion for power granted them this confidence, the hope to be recognized as “patriots.” It was also their whiteness, their reprieve from harm. To know that because they do not look like those who protested in June, they would not suffer the same attacks; they could leave the building unharmed. If they were still part of this movement before this day, they are part of his church.
And Trump’s legacy will be this; it will be the actions of those on January 6th. It will be his history-making second impeachment; it will be his cowardice at that moment; it will be insurrection, for he led the insurrection of our political norms with his words and actions as leader of the free world. He partook in the insurrection of our global leadership, the burning of centuries-old bridges that unified us with the world across the Atlantic. He rewarded the insurrection of truth in our media, making it known that facts are merely options in a game of cynicism. And he emboldened the insurrection of our collective progression from a body of whiteness to a society of color and sexual freedom; he coddled those who refused to accept those who do not match the portrait of White America, who do not act like White Americans, and who do not think like White Americans.
He never accepted his loss in November. If he is impeached and barred from running for office, he will not accept that either. The GOP will try to expunge him from the record, but they will not succeed. For even though he tried to harm those who merely wish to be heard by a system that has worked so very hard to silence them, he did not succeed. The first Black man to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia happened under his watch. The growth of Black Lives Matter into a body of Black and White skin happened under his reign. The furthering of recognition for the attacks on trans life occurred during his tenure, and the U.S. Supreme Court declared that federal law protects LGBT employees from discrimination based on orientation or gender identity during his four-year term.
He did not win. They did not win. The axioms of whiteness by Black intellectuals came to pass, the consciousness of young progressives sharpened in rebuke, and the eventual conflicts between families were raised and the spotlighting of corrosion on lines of politics and identity could not be further exaggerated. Much is to be learned, too much requires change, and accountability is needed in a time of uncertainty and weariness for what the future holds.
Still, the facts of this President will live on in history, his legacy will be analyzed, and hopefully, in due time, the essential nature that allowed for the poison of Trumpism to sprout will be vanquished by the very spirit it emboldens.