Why You Will Still Hear the Name “Trump” For Many Years to Come
Things have calmed down a notch since the initial drama that followed the election. All the noise of what “Trump is going to do” is beginning to fade away. And the odds of him going home — or to prison — seem to get better by the day.
But even if he concedes or is forcibly evicted, it doesn't mean that you’ve washed your hands with him.
Years, perhaps even decades from now, you’ll see political analysts sitting on tv and saying the words: “What you’re seeing today all started with Donald Trump.”
And I say that for a reason. Politicians come and go, but their actions continue to have consequences. My country is still having to deal with radical clerics to this day because of the decisions made by a military dictator over 30 years ago.
All it takes is for the wrong events to be set in motion — once. And that’s what Trump has done.
He undoubtedly set American politics on a new course in 2016. He showed that a presidential candidate could vilify women and get away with it. He showed that a president could place travel bans on citizens of other countries simply because of their faith and get away with it. He could ridicule those with special needs, tell white supremacists to “stand back and stand by,” and lock children in cages. And that no one would hold him accountable.
He told the Right to be scared of the Left. The Left were “violent fascists who would ruin America.” He scare-mongered the nation to a point where civil war became imaginable.
This is not normal. This does not happen in civil societies. This is radicalising. And unfortunately for America, it was coming from the man who was supposed to protect it from all of this in the first place.
So does it even come as a surprise that the country is now on a collision course? Even Americans would be hard-pressed to remember a time when Democrats and Republicans were at such odds with one another.
This is what you call “divide and conquer.”
But Trump didn’t stop there. Gaslighting the nation wasn’t enough. He wanted to break the law. He tested the limits of presidential power. He gauged how far he could bend the law and how far he could push constitutional limits on his power before he was called out. Yes, I’m aware that, given what he wanted to achieve, he’s largely failed.
But that’s not the issue here. American democracy wasn’t on the line simply because Trump was in with a shout of winning. It wasn’t simply because he could hang onto power despite what you wanted. Those are the end results. It all starts with the fact that a sitting president is trying to divide the nation and bypass the rule of law in the first place.
And that’s what’s going to shift the course of American politics.
Why do I say that? A few reasons.
Firstly, I think everyone’s accepted by this point the fact that there will be more politicians, just like Trump or even worse, to follow. After all, politicians want power, and Trump has established racism, fascism, and sexism to be a legitimate route to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And secondly, Trump’s base is growing. By that, I don’t mean Trump voters. I wholeheartedly believe that 73 million can’t be generalised. What I’m referring to here are the violence-loving white-supremacists who would watch their democracy fall if it meant their chosen one could stay in the White House. Make no mistake — their numbers now render them a political force to be reckoned with. So why wouldn't the politicians of tomorrow try and appeal to them?
Thirdly, Trump, as I said, has set dangerous precedents. He’s told his successors that a president can push the constitution to its limits and get away with it. He’s shown them that a president can straight-up refuse to concede. He’s shown that a president can denounce a democratic election as “rigged” and still have media houses, both at home and abroad, back him up. And that despite a president losing, all the people can do is hope he concedes.
Again, it’s not about whether Trump hangs onto power or not — it’s about the fact that he tried and didn't face serious repercussions. He’s the pioneer for the attempts at undermining American democracy that you’ll see tomorrow.
What will that look like? You’re going to see a rise in politicians peddling authoritarian, racist, and illiberal ideals to “divide and conquer” — just like Trump did before them.
You’re going to see more politicians turning to Right-wing populism. Presidents will begin to entertain the thought of resorting to violence. They’ll contest, dispute, and refuse to acknowledge election results to a point where it’ll seem like the norm.
In my lifetime, I cannot remember an election that happened in my country where the losing party didn’t argue the count was rigged. All it takes is for one politician to open the floodgates, and then it’s a landslide.
And where does that lead to? You, the voter, beginning to doubt the legitimacy of your own democratic process. You will begin to subconsciously expect wrongdoing — every single time.
And that’s not the only threat to your democracy that Trump is leaving you with.
The lines between elected and un-elected will become blurry. More and more, you’ll see family members of presidents wielding authority that only elected officials could. Why do I say that? Donald Trump Jr. was already showing signs that America was heading for a Trump family dynasty had his father won. He was leading the charge in trying to contest the results of the election. He was responsible for a bus chase in Texas. The more influence he began to wield over the Trump base by the day, the more danger American democracy faced.
The country would have been heading towards a time where being Trump’s son would weigh heavier on the scales than any accomplishments, experience, or vision. That’s the stage where political dynasties are formed. I’ve lived under two. It’s a vicious cycle. You vote the parent out, and you still have their kids to contend with. And there’s a good chance those kids turn out to be even worse. Why? Because they grow up with a sense of entitlement to rule over you. They think of you as their subjects and not their citizens.
Believe me when I tell you America’s just dodged a bullet.
At this point, the question you’re probably asking is: “Okay, so, bullet dodged – but where do we go from here? How does America reverse 4 years of Trump?”
Biden and the presidents to follow will have to go out of their way to show the world that they’re not above the law. And they’ll have to do it time and again. Think about it this way — a democracy with a history going back more than two hundred years, a history filled with peaceful transitions of power, had its future suddenly thrown into question by a one-term president. If that doesn’t say democracies are fragile and that presidents must do everything they can to protect them, I don’t know what does.
And don’t forget that, for months, American democracy felt like it was at breaking point. You don’t reverse that with one election. Just like having a president who does as he pleases could have begun to seem like the norm, presidents now will have to remind the world of how they’re putting the constitution before themselves.
Make no mistake — this is a hard reset.
And yes, with time, the Trump-era can eventually seem like a blip. But for that to happen, American presidents will have to spend term after term bringing dignity and respect for the rule of law to the Oval Office. And it must be done for a long enough period that when people hear the words “White House,” they instinctively think of democracy and not a dictatorship. Because that certainly isn't the case right now.
But that doesn’t mean you feel hopeless. This isn’t a situation where it’s all down to Biden and the politicians who follow him, and you’re just a helpless bystander who can do nothing but watch America tank.
Because this starts with you.
Whether you realise it or not, this is a long game. This didn't end with one election. But yes, you understood what was on the line for your democracy and took action — and you won the first round.
This is something that you’ll have to do again. And again. You will have to make sure that you’re making the right choices going forward. Policy differences or not, you’re going to have to choose presidents that you know will respect both the office they’re being elected into and the constitution that allows for all that to happen.
And this means you’re going to have to vote.
I really don’t think I need to sit here and explain why voting can be so powerful. Why? Because you’ve just witnessed the result of 79 million making their voice heard firsthand. In an instant, you were transported from a land of despair, rage, and cruelty to one of hope, peace, and equality.
Look at the bigger picture, and you’ll realise how great a change that is. There aren’t many places in the world where the people can deliver such a blow to fascism in one strike. And it didn't take much. You didn't have to go through a civil war to unseat a wannabe dictator. You just had to mail your ballots in.
You’re witnessing firsthand the power American democracy accords to every citizen to effect change — and with relative ease. It’s telling you that you can use that power to mould your country’s political future to your liking.
So with what you’ve seen in the last four years, and what you can see coming in the years to follow, are you going to choose an America that’s free from authoritarianism and hate or an America where you see the remnants of Donald Trump at every turn?