In the End He Lost

In the end Trump lost a conventional bourgeois democratic election—by a convincing seven million votes. Unwilling to accept the result, he challenged it in court, repeatedly embarrassing himself as his suits were thrown out. He made a show of force, rallying butthead Republican lawmakers to protest the election results, but he could not prevent the official confirmation of Biden’s victory. So—lacking creativity and listening to rogue aides—Trump figured it would be a good idea to summon some goons to the White House, fire them up, and sic them on the Capitol while Congress confirmed the election results.

It just made sense, right? Having exhausted other means, Trump moved on to armed insurrection. So classic; the French and Russian precedents.

But then what? Was this supposed to be the coup that would force the Congress to grant Trump a second term? Was there a plan?

Some hundreds of Trump thugs wielding “Jesus Saves” and anti-communist banners, Confederate and U.S. flags, invaded the building, meeting with minimal police resistance, forcing the Congress to go on lock down. Terrified Republican lawmakers were forced to don gas masks. Invading idiots lolled about on lawmakers’ swivel chairs, smashed furniture, pilfered souvenirs, smashed a policeman’s head with a fire extinguisher. Most were ultimately escorted from the building, although there have been scores of arrests.

The mob had no clear strategy; this was not a coup attempt so much as a tantrum of the brain-dead following Trump’s directive to march on the Capitol.

The tragicomic putsch effort backfired badly. Just as the Democrats took control of the House through the Georgia votes, the loathsome Kelly Loeffler turned on Trump, withdrawing her challenge to the Georgia presidential result. Cabinet members resigned, or threatened to resign.

Trump was obliged to announce early Friday morning: “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

Capitol police officials have been fired for their negligence Wednesday. The police—whose “systemic racism” has during the Trump era become widely exposed among the masses, including white people—are under increased media scrutiny. Pelosi is planning another impeachment case, at this late date. Trump is not poised after this last antic to go out with a bang. He will slink out of the White House abandoned by all but maybe Ivanka.

Trump did not come to office as a self-defined fascist, with a coherent fascist ideology. He has no ideology other than opportunistic self-promotion. He has no capacity for organization. He is incapable of sustained intellectual concentration, preferring simple power-point presentations to written briefs, resists facts at odds with his preconceptions, adulates and denigrates his intimates indifferently, lacks the people skills needed to maintain an effective cabinet. As a wannabe fascist, he is just that—an aspirational autocrat, lacking the wherewithal needed to execute a coup.

Trump never commanded a fascist party. He hijacked Jeb Bush’s party, forcing its leaders including Ted Cruz to publicly lick his butt. Having stumbled upon a winning strategy (mobilizing white racism, religious idiocy and general ignorance and paranoia around the primitive call to Make America Great Again) Trump found himself the head of the 40% of people in this country sufficiently stupid and vile to support him blindly—even indeed should he shoot someone on Fifth Ave.

Trump has rejoiced in his ability to manipulate Republican politicians dependent on his endorsements. But it is all about him. Not about a party program. Not about a national plan, or a plan for military expansion and Lebensraum (common among fascists). Just about him, Donald Trump.

Now it’s reported that many on-line supporters of Trump are turning on him. Because on Thursday night he recorded that message about a “seamless transition of power.” The QAnon community feels like Trump—imagine this!—used them to punish Pence as planned but then turned on them after the mainstream media trashed their righteous revolution! They are discussing whether the Deep State has gained control over Trump’s mind.

Repeat: Trump never commanded a fascist party. He galvanized a disparate menagerie of white nationalists, neonazis, klansmen, conspiracy cultists, religious idiots, grandmas concerned about pedophile cannibals led by the lizard people kidnapping our children. But they never constituted a coherent, disciplined movement.

The Trump tour concludes January 20. It may be viewed in future as an era of flirtation with fascism, in which the nation came “this close” to abandoning the manifest goodness of constitutional democracy for the obvious evil of autocratic rule. But in the end Biden normalcy triumphs.

The Republican Party is divided between the proudly imbecilic, the secretly embarrassed and ashamed, and the worried and appalled who find opportunity to posture as old-time virtuous “Lincoln” Republicans. The party will continue to attract and recruit idiots and fascistic individuals, as it has traditionally. (The other party has experience in this too.) But the Republican Party however slavishly Trumpian in recent years has necessarily denounced the Capitol invasion. It generally understands that the Moron President went too far. When the Wall Street Journal editorializes that he must be removed now; when the New York Post demands he accept the election results; when Pence refuses to do what he can’t do—then Trump is defeated, fascism or no, leaving behind him a motley array of scum that can surely be defined as generally fascistic but which never coalesced into an effective organ for a malignant narcissist and solopsist whose sole political strength has been to galvanize the stupidist on behalf of his obviously corrupt self.

Trump’s bright future is as cult head, God’s anointed afflicted (like Jesus) with colossal injustice, inflicted by the lizard people. With faith in his second coming, in 2024, a slice of his scum base will adhere to Trump. Maybe they will morph into a fascist movement of some sort.

But in the wake of the storming of the Capitol, in which the capital police apparently colluded with the flag-waving thugs, the movement to defund the police is going to intensify. The Congress itself is deeply pissed at the police performance. The Republican Party while vacillating is not uniting fascist-style around the Leader. The wannabe fascist is revealed for what he is: a fake, even in this.

A fake student, cheating (according to his sister) on his SAT.
A fake real estate genius, concealing his extraordinary bankruptcies now revealed by investigative journalists.
A fake stud, impersonating a spokesperson to boast of sexual triumphs (to People Magazine in his 40s).
A fake author, relying on a ghost-writer to produce his bogus book The Art of the Deal.
A fake judge of talent on The Apprentice, the gig that won him his initial fan base.
A fake president, lying every day, pleased to note that 40% of the people remain blissfully stupid, clay in his hands.

But Trump is losing ground. Wednesday was no March on Rome (that brought Mussolini to power in 1922). It was at best a strategic miscalculation in which Trump used buttheads to further embarrass himself. I would not downplay the evil a madman is capable of, given another 12 days on the throne. But he is just that—an isolated, sick, vile madman—not the leader of a movement poised to seize state power. Which is to say, he’s a fake fascist too.

The impending reign of Joe Biden will entail confrontation with China over its control over its own waters, Russia over its borders and NATO expansion, Syria over its desire to preserve its sovereignty versus U.S.-backed terrorists, Iraq over its people’s desire to expel unwelcome U.S. forces, etc. It will be back to Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton normalcy. Cable news anchors considered “left” including those adulating Black Lives Matter will find no contradiction in embracing Harry Truman and the Cold War conception of U.S. (exceptional) leadership of the Free World against “our adversaries.”

The idea is to reject the despicable Trump’s coup attempt by a return to the ferociously familiar. Not fascism; that threat was always over-rated. But war. Just watch. The return to normalcy under decent Joe—after the long dark night of Trump—will be illuminated by the traditional rocket’s red glare, and bombs bursting in air, giving proof that the U.S. flag is still everywhere. And as Joe always says: God bless our troops.

Gary Leupp is Emeritus Professor of History at Tufts University, and is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 and coeditor of The Tokugawa World (Routledge, 2021). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: