Get ready for the next 18 months to be very dark

With the indictment of Donald Trump scheduled to take place tomorrow (Tuesday) in Manhattan at 2:15pm Eastern time, this week is going to be all about this case and him. The more he is pushed into a corner, the more he lashes out and the next eighteen months at least are going to be dark times in politics in the US as the indictments against him start to pile up and he has to keep fighting legal battles.

It is clear that Trump is going to portray the next election as akin to Armageddon and so we are headed for a steady diet about how America is doomed to go to hell unless he is re-elected. Susan B. Glasser writes that Trump has a far more sinister vision of America and his role than just a couple of years ago, as can be seen from his speech at CPAC last month.

His call to arms was not merely the stuff of political symbolism. Echoing the inflammatory language with which he summoned his supporters to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Trump urged them to fight once again in explicitly end-time terms. “We have no choice,” he said. “If we don’t do this, our country will be lost forever.” In case the comparison was lost on anybody, he explicitly extolled the “great, great patriots” unfairly sitting in jail, recasting the rioters who breached America’s own Capitol building as maga martyrs. “This is the final battle,” he insisted. “They know it. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows it. This is it. Either they win, or we win, and if they win we no longer have a country.”

And it is already clear that 2024 Trump is far different from 2020 Trump, more willing to pronounce extreme beliefs after having become the first American President to seek to overturn an election—and still emerging as his party’s front-runner two years later.

To reinforce just how much he meant the threats in his CPAC speech, the Trump campaign later sent out a gritty meme from it as a fund-raiser. It showed a black-and-white photograph of Trump, glowering as he pointed at the viewer: “I am YOUR retribution,” the caption said. Vengeance-minded in the best of times, Trump is now outright promising a second term filled with unchecked purges and payback.

Without Trump, it’s hard to imagine any other Republicans carrying on about 2020, or about the so-called heroes of January 6th. Most parties like to move on from elections they lost.

But, because of Trump, today’s G.O.P. cannot. And his rivals, so far, are proving to be a timid bunch, all too wary of poking Trump. Faced with voters who overwhelmingly supported Trump’s election lies, they kowtow or equivocate as he continues to untruthfully decry the “Massive Fraud” of the 2020 election. This does not suggest a party that is on the verge of abandoning its leader for a newer, less controversial figure. And, besides, the more crowded the field ultimately gets, the more the gumption—or lack thereof—of the other candidates may not matter: in a divided party, the Only and Always Trumpers have more than enough votes to prevail.

There was more dark rhetoric in his CPAC speech, where he lists all his purported enemies.

“The sinister forces trying to kill America have done everything they can to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this nation into a socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals, and dangerous refugees that no other country wants. No other country wants them. If those opposing us succeed, our once beautiful U.S.A. will be a failed country that no one will even recognize. A lawless, open borders, crime-ridden, filthy, communist nightmare. That’s what it’s going and that’s where it’s going. . . . That’s why I’m standing before you, because we are going to finish what we started. We started something that was a miracle. We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory.”

It is a cartoon caricature of fear mongering. When you step back a bit, it is quite extraordinary that a person who once was president and is seeking the position again could deliver what would be considered the nightmarish ravings of a deranged person if said by anyone else. But instead of the Republican party urging him to have a glass of warm milk, lie down and try to sleep in order to soothe his fevered brain, they will echo and even amplify his message of doom.

But that is where we are. Trump has widened the Overton window for political rhetoric so much that there is not even a window anymore. Just about anything goes.

He may be hindered in his inflammatory campaign if the judge overseeing the case issues a gag order on all the parties


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    He may be hindered in his inflammatory campaign if the judge overseeing the case issues a gag order on all the parties

    His lawyers would immediately appeal on grounds that, for Trump, it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

  2. Matt G says

    The evangelicals will eat this up. It’s all their language. And there are plenty of atheists with whom this language will resonate, ironically. I live and work in Midtown Manhattan, just a 5 minute walk from the Tower….

  3. sonofrojblake says

    “if the judge overseeing the case issues a gag order on all the parties”

    Is that even legal? And surely it could only apply to discussing the details of the case? Also, good fuckin luck getting the Angry Cheeto to comply, or to take any notice of threats about contempt of court.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Since his campaign for 2016, I’ve thought Trump was using Mussolini as his role model. Just hope it ends as well for him.

  5. jrkrideau says

    Sorry but as some one who does not live in the USA, why should I see Trump as much crazier than a few dozen other US politicians?
    De Santis

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @6: Don’t be so disingenuous. You live right next door, and are inundated with US news. Trump isn’t crazy. Unlike the loons you mention, he’s potentially the next President, and therefore fucking dangerous. A sociopath like Putin, but without Putin’s intelligence.

  7. Steve Lion says

    My parents spent two years in Italy after the war, ’46 and ’47 I think. I wasn’t born yet. One of the things they brought back with them and was, and still is, in the photo album of those years, was a postcard of Mussolini and his friend, hanging, upside down, from a lamp post in a gas station, as I recall. For some reason, that pic has stuck in my mind for more than 60 years, and I’m inclined to this day to refer to it when contemplating what out to be done about Trump.
    That picture is out there on the internet for anyone that might care to refresh one’s memory.

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