Op-Ed: US is bracing for a surge of “T2” Trumpism in twilight of Covid-19 pandemic

While most Americans go about their calmer post-Trumpian lives under the Biden administration, a significant number of their fellow citizens live in a different reality entirely. For them, a world of dystopian intensity has just begun. After all, those Trumpsters are now experiencing their worst-case scenario—a Biden victory in a “stolen” election and Congress in Democratic hands. They have no desire to normalize what they consider a socialist regime in Washington. Astonishingly, one-quarter of Republicans belong to the church of QAnon with its imaginary global syndicate of Satan-worshipping child traffickers.

 41 percent of Republicans still say they won’t get inoculated (compared to 4 percent of Democrats). Against all evidence, they believe the vaccines . . . will subject their “victims” to nonstop surveillance through a supposedly injected microchip. Fixated on such imaginary threats, the anti-vaxxers are dismissive of a [non-imaginary] pandemic that is still a clear and present danger.

In the good old days, people with such a tenuous connection to reality would retreat to their armchairs to listen to Rush Limbaugh. They’d live in their own private dystopias—stocking their bomb shelters, polishing their guns, muttering to themselves—with lots of fire and fury but little real-world impact.

Thanks to Trump, the Proud Boys, and QAnon, however, the dystopians of today have turned their delusions into a political project even to the point of taking over the Republican Party. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican who still believes that the 2020 election featured the “worst voter fraud and election theft in history,” repeatedly incited his followers to post-election violence. Gun nut Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, called Joe Biden a “tyrant” for his tepid gun-control proposals after a spate of mass killings this spring. Led by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the party is now rewriting the events of January 6th to blame the violence on supposed left-wing agitators.

The Nation

Equally troubling, true believers of this sort are still attempting to overturn the results of the election, beginning with the vote “recount” in Maricopa County, Arizona. The outfit in charge of that recount, Cyber Ninjas, has been set loose in a basketball arena in Phoenix like the Keystone Kops on a mad caper. In the process, they’re violating all the rules of a proper audit, from tolerating a huge error rate in tally sheets to flagging ballots as “suspicious” for things like folds, Cheeto stains, and suspected bamboo fibers (the result, supposedly, of having been sent from somewhere in Asia). According to Jack Sellers, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Maricopa recount is “a grift disguised as an audit.”

The nonsense now being spouted by the loony right would be grist for satire if we hadn’t seen all this before. Karl Marx once proposed (and Groucho Marx proved) that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” Trump has turned this dictum on its head, since many of the laughable things he said on his road to the presidency—his paeans to his future “big, fat, beautiful Wall,” his white nationalism, his love of Vladimir Putin—were indeed turned into tragic policy by his minions.

My professional dystopianism extends to the political sphere. I’m grateful on a daily basis that Donald Trump is no longer in the Oval Office or blathering on Twitter. I now take for granted a Democratic Congress (however marginally controlled), which seemed like a longshot last Election Day.

But let’s face it, politically, things could go south fast. Even though the Democrats are working overtime to inoculate this country’s economy with one stimulus shot after another, the Republicans could retake the Senate and even the House in 2022, and, three years from now, Donald Trump could still prove to be a viable presidential candidate.

Business Standard

By then, for all we know, an even more infectious strain of Trumpism — call it T.2 — might have emerged in the form of far-right challengers like Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley, or even (god save us all) Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Their followers who lurched from Reopen rallies to Stop the Steal protests were struck dumb by the failure of their Duce to cling to power in January 2021. In the months since Joe Biden’s inauguration, with a majority of Republicans still proclaiming his election stolen, they’ve again become restive. (more)

Sources: The Nation and Business Standard and CNN

Op-Ed written by Jack Feffer for the Nation with additions from CNN and Business Standard (which is basically the Nation article without the paywall)