While I still hope Trump’s incompetence, ignorance and impulsiveness trips him up and blunts most of his agenda, I no longer believe he'll be ejected from the American body politic like a deadly virus. The GOP, with a few notable exceptions, has embraced the brand, and there we are. I now believe Trump will serve out his first term.
Me, I'm worried about the next guy.
America's next fascist president will be a much smarter operator than Trump, and we should all dread the arrival of this man or woman.
That, in short, will be the greatest legacy of the Trump presidency: priming the pump among tens of millions of Americans for a crude, lying bully with seething contempt for both political parties and every American political norm (a free press, an independent judiciary, the Constitutional right to protest).
Normalizing the Abnormal
Trump has effectively normalized the abnormal. In so doing, he has softened up the American political system for the next fascist ideologue. His style is now acceptable among a wide swath of American voters: a shallow, petty leader who demands personal loyalty and adoration, while being openly dismissive of the boring, slow movement of ideas through a legislative process.
The next one, like Trump, will install a cadre of oligarchs -- some, laughably unqualified -- to lead (read, hollow out) the federal agencies they nominally run. (Like the buffoonish character of Sgt. Schultz on "Hogan's Hero's," Trump's antics can distract us from the truly dreadful people being installed by his bureaucracy into positions of power.)
But I expect the next Trump won't bungle so badly, so obviously, so soon. This next one will push authoritarian policies even harder, crushing opponents and critics alike -- likely under the banner of "protecting the homeland." And his conservative apologists will let him, just as they've let Trump say an enormous number of shocking things.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Trump will be remembered as a weird political detour. But I don't think so.