If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that Donald Trump would have won reelection. He achieved a growing economy that was seeing more wage gains at the bottom than the top, he refused to start another foreign war, and he appointed three Supreme Court justices and nearly a third of all active federal judges. Additionally, he deployed the most vigorous use of tariffs to protect American businesses since before the New Deal, and set a variety of limits on the growth of immigration, including using the threat of tariffs to convince Mexico to secure its border and stop immigrant streams crossing Mexico to enter America.
Even with the pandemic, it is likely Trump would have won if he had simply used enough force to push through a $2,000 payment for American families, as compensation for having endured the many disruptions resulting from the pandemic.
All of that is easy to forget at the beginning of the Biden administration, when the price of respectability seems to be how loudly one is willing to denounce Trumpism, all its works, and all its empty promises. Thanks largely to squabbling between Trump and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the $2,000 stimulus check, the GOP lost both seats in Georgia and control of the Senate.
This was followed by the assault on the Capitol, which is now presented as the logical culmination of populist nationalism. The entire spectrum of respectable opinion, ranging from Black Lives Matter and academic Marxists on the left, to upholders of the bipartisan establishment in the center, to the Never Trumpers on the right is baying for censorship, blacklists, and legislation to allow more government agencies to spy on more Americans.
Then there is the second impeachment of Donald Trump, approved by the House just days before he was set to leave office. The impeachment’s goal was not to remove Trump from office, but to prevent him from ever holding office again, since conviction in the Senate would almost certainly bar him from holding any federal office in the future. In other words, the goal is to disenfranchise the Deplorables, for good.
The Democrats would be better served by trying to convert the Deplorables with economic populism. But, for many in the Democratic coalition, disenfranchising the Deplorables is what they are all about. Expressions of disdain for America’s white, Christian majority are now ubiquitous. A few days after the assault on the Capitol, Hillary Clinton wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post with this bizarre headline, “Trump should be impeached. But that alone won’t remove white supremacy from America.” Most of those who assaulted the Capitol were white, but there is zero evidence that they were motivated by “white supremacy.” Clinton then charged that “Trump ran for president on a vision of America where whiteness is valued at the expense of everything else,” without bothering to cite any evidence at all.
But, these days, no evidence is needed to label something a product or expression of “white supremacy.” Shortly before Christmas, “philanthropy professional” Jen Bokoff, awarded a blue checkmark by Twitter, tweeted: “This is your annual reminder that not everyone celebrates Christmas! The default to ‘Merry Christmas’ as a normal greeting is also white supremacy culture at work. If someone celebrates, by all means. But so many don’t.” Shortly after Christmas The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote something very similar: “As The Post’s Dan Balz writes, ‘For Trump supporters, cultural preservation of an America long dominated by a White, Christian majority remains a cornerstone of their beliefs.’ That is the definition of white supremacy.”
In other words, the mere desire to celebrate Christmas or to conserve American culture is now sufficient to establish “white supremacy.” Such outlandish views will soon be promoted by the federal government, with Biden indicating that he will overturn the Trump executive order barring the promotion of critical race theory and disband Trump’s “1776 Commission,” which was intended to counter the view that America’s past was irredeemably racist and its present systemically so.
Trump energized tens of millions by showing that opposition to the globalist consensus is possible. He achieved just enough in office to give a future dissenter from that consensus a chance to overcome the negative portrait of populist nationalism now being painted. Such a dissenting leader could remind voters that the Capitol has been occupied by impeccably dressed globalists for decades. They may have had the right badges to be in the building, but they have actually done more damage to the country than the Jan. 6 rioters ever could.
Such a dissenting leader could succeed if Biden continues to allow his administration to be dominated by those who want nothing more than to bury America’s history and the descendents of those who largely made that history. ◆
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.