Trump is gone, but his damage will linger for decades

The New Yorker celebrates the last of Trump.
The New Yorker celebrates the last of Trump.

There’s a lot to celebrate this week.

For starters, the country is still here. The United States is still a democratic republic.

There seemed to be some doubt that might continue when an angry mob invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, only the second time it has been breached in 200 years.

Then, it was the British; this time, our fellow Americans.

These white supremacists, incited by the president, tried to overturn a lawful election.

They were halted. We got lucky.

To anyone paying attention, the violence was not a surprise – it was the only natural outcome.

For a year, Donald Trump said that the only election result he would accept was his own victory. 

Anything else would prove the election was rigged.

What sane adult thinks that way? And why did so many people look the other way?

And when he lost, he propagated the lie to anyone who would listen that he had been robbed.

More than 50 courts rejected his claims for lack of a shred of evidence.

He tried strong-arming officials in Georgia to find him more than 11,000 votes.

He ginned up his supporters on Twitter to take the Capitol on Jan. 6, to “stop the steal.”

In the wake of the insurrection, Twitter officials finally deleted his account. Election disinformation fell 73 percent, according to one study.

In his four years in office, Trump never once had a bad word for Russia’s Vladimir Putin. 

He dismissed any notions that Putin interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence from more than a dozen intelligence agencies.

Whatever their relationship, Trump gave Putin so much:

He distanced the US from our European allies.

He turned American against American. 

The free press was the enemy of the American people. Democrats were scum. Jews were traitors for voting Democratic. Muslims, Mexicans, and LGBTQ folks were not to be trusted. BLM protesters were violent Antifa tools.

More than that, Trump did what Putin could only dream about: He sowed doubt about the safety and security of our elections. 

A majority of Republicans still believe the election was stolen. 

How do we move on from that?

Trump may be gone, but it’s important to remember the Republican leaders – Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Rudy Giuliani, to name but a few – who aided and abetted his delusional efforts.

It’s vital to remember who helped Trump amplify his message – who still amplifies his message of hate and dissension: Fox News.

In “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Distortion of Truth,” media critic Brian Stelter lays out the twisted symbiotic relationship between Trump and Fox, one that has endured for years, long before he thrust himself onto the political landscape.

It’s a damning read, but it boils down to this: Fox viewers take to Trump’s brand of crazy like catnip. Hosts such as Sean Hannity and the trio of dimwits on “Fox & Friends” egg him on, and he reciprocates with more outrageous assertions.

Trump’s influence has spread throughout the network’s offerings, and even today, after the failed insurrection, some Fox personalities still insist in pushing Trump’s view that he was robbed.

For many Trump loyalists who were radicalized by Fox, it’s not enough. They feel betrayed by the network for not going in harder to support their beloved leader. The network is facing real competition for viewers from fringe right-wing outlets Newsmax and OAN, and so is leaning in even further. 

The radicalization of America continues. An increasing number of Americans prefer their “alternative facts.” How do we come together over that? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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