Trump and What Happens Next: Some Predictions
1. Trump will lose.
2. Trump will not concede. Not the night of the election, not afterwards.
3. Trump will claim fraud. If this is a close race he’ll try to discredit individuals and specific places. If it’s a landslide, he’ll discredit the entire process.
4. Trump will not attend the Inauguration.
5. Trump will take any opportunity he gets from Right-wing media to hint at, but not endorse, violence. He’ll insist that everything about this was wrong, let his inquisitors raise the possibility of armed response, and then say something to the effect of, “I don’t know, I don’t know, maybe this is a Second Amendment thing.”
6. Trump will leverage his failure into a new media operation run by his campaign operatives and with on-camera talent from the remnants at Fox News. Sean Hannity will be his featured player. Bannon, Stone and Bossie will be producers. Roger Ailes will defy his non-compete severance from Fox to serve as a consultant. They will create a Trump Media operation that leads the Right into an alternative universe — intellectual secession — of paranoia, conspiracy theories, fact denial and remunerative rage.
7. Trump will consolidate the amorphous American Right under his media banner by uniting evangelicals, alternative think-tanks, “sound science” propagandists and the helpless, trusting, malleable, racist, frightened blue-collar voters who suffer most greatly and most readily from trusting the wrong people. The entire brand will validate itself with human misery and Trump and his followers do all they can to cultivate it with 24/7 programming.
8. Trumpism will emerge full-blown: a state of permanent visceral negativity that seeks to discredit rational evaluation of problems and possibilities, and which produces a new version of Civil War — endless, virtual, ideological, non-local, even invisible; person against person, neighbor against neighbor, even splitting people against themselves as they must live in some ways under the rational thinking of the 21st century while on the other they embrace irrationality tactically.
9. Trump TV will cultivate civil disobedience: armed defenses and displays even in churches, non-payment of taxes, non-compliance with regulations, sovereign citizenship backed up with arms and the threat of violence. The mood will be fed and banked like a fire by the media. With no actual capital, their seat of government is virtual: Trump TV, with Trump as the operative leader.
10. The Republicans in office will be forced to choose as a party and as individuals between Trump and their political duty. If they permit themselves to be overwhelmed by Trumpism, they face political obsolescence as a faction of pure negativity and obstructionism with no value in government and demonstrable uselessness on the ground; if they cross the aisle at all, they face challenges from the Right in their gerrymandered districts and live in a constant state of intramural warfare. So…
11. The GOP as we know it is finished. Trump has taken all its branding premises — the presumption of moral superiority, the right to absolutism, the right to any facts that fit and to any lie that works. The Republicans must evolve or else to betray their heritage and their duty. They’ll likely pick the latter, as exhibited by Republican leaders such as Ryan, McConnell, Giuliani, Gingrich, et al., because if they admit they need to change then they’re admitting that they were ever wrong. The Republicans’ business model is that of the tobacco companies, which only under massive weight of evidence, and after decades of lying, admitted that that their product was harmful. Today’s GOP is in the same place that tobacco companies were in pre-settlement: they’re spinning, buying time, propagating contradictory messages, hiding behind fake science and fraudulent evidence, and prolonging malignant fraud while they still can. Trumpism’s inconvenience for the GOP isn’t that it’s any different from what they feel. It’s just that Trump’s marketing is crassly candid and indiscreet.
12. Needless to say, Trump’s behavior in defeat will break dangerously with precedent in the nation’s most honored and important tradition: the peaceful transition of power. Trumpism is effectively a surrender in the same way that secession was an admission of failure in the 19th century — it admits that they can’t win by the rules, so they must separate and measure themselves by their own rules. The people most damaged by Trumpism are Trump’s most faithful investors: the people in the hats who trusted him the most.
13. This is epistemological war in a society with the means and the incentives to test, weigh and decide between theories, so Trumpism has failed already. However, as with any nostalgia act, there are paying customers ready to indulge a little longer; as with any addictive product there are people who need it. The essence of Donald Trump’s brand is exploitation of the willing, which is why it resonates perfectly with the GOP’s purpose, and why it utilizes the business model of addiction from the tobacco companies with ruthless brilliance.
14. The Right treated politics like it was all a game. It never was. The last prediction is the easiest and the ugliest: the game they played was a toxic fraud that did, and will, cost the nation lives, opportunity, and time, falling hardest on those who believed Trump fervently. Awful fact asserts itself, always.