Rethinking America, Richter Scale

Donald Trump’s 40-Year Shadow

It will take future Democrats large majorities, luck and sustained effort to undo the national and global damage imposed by the Trump administration.

Credit: Tony Webster


  • Analysts inside and outside the US continue to underestimate the Trump effect.
  • Even a four-year Trump presidency will take as much as 40 years to unwind.
  • It will take future Democrats large majorities, luck and sustained effort to undo the national and global damage imposed by the Trump administration.

The Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court makes one political statement incontrovertible. The presidency of Donald Trump — not even two years old at this stage — will cast at least a 40-year shadow over U.S. society and the country as a whole.

Of course, there are still those who think that Donald Trumps time in the Oval Office may ultimately add up to little more than a bad dream. Their hope is that the evolving nightmare will be over in 2018 (and 2022 at the latest).

Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking. This has a direct bearing not just on citizens in the United States but, in view of their country’s continuing preeminence on the global stage, also on people around the world, no matter where they live.

Global Nero

Analysts inside and outside the United States continue to underestimate the Trump effect. He may look and act like a clown. But even if there is no method to Trump’s madness, there is a clear result for the country.

His main driver seems to be the rigorous pursuit of a “scorched earth” strategy. He is a master at playing to the socioeconomic delusions of both the affluent suburbs and the disenfranchised rural underclass across the United States.

Because of the demographic shift currently underway in the United States, the odds are that there will likely never be another demagogue in U.S. history who will play as successfully as Trump to the socioeconomic delusions of both of these otherwise very disparate groups.

The design

The reactionary way in which Trump is proceeding is designed to create the greatest deal of policy damage. Worse, it is so staggering in scope that it can outlast any number of election defeats for conservative Republicans in the future. What Trump has broken will be very difficult to put back together again.

A sham democracy

The administration’s main focus, shared by many Congressional Republicans, is to make the common-people-despising, deadly vision of Ayn Rand a reality. The ultimate goal is something truly daring — to remove “the people” as a factor out of the broader political equation, while always pretending, in Truly Orwellian fashion, to serve only them.

The commoners’ aspirations are deemed unworthy because, in Trump’s and Rand’s shared vision of the world, they are not the “winners.” They are but a severe cost factor that unnecessarily stands in the way of how billionaires and plutocrats envision their life in and rule of the United States.

Not so coincidentally, this is also where the persona and lifestyle of Donald Trump and his clan are such grotesquely truthful representations of what’s on offer.

With his penchant for the gilded lifestyle, he personifies the relentless pursuit of American-style materialism in its most grotesque form. His special gift is his ability, much like snake oil dealers, to sell America’s de facto proletariat this lifestyle as the one to aim for in their own future.

Trump’s not-so-hidden suggestion is this: You follow me — and you’ll get there. In other words, acquiescence to ruthless political change a la Trump is the stepping stone to future self-enrichment.

40 years to unwind?

Still, isn’t it an exaggeration to say that it will take as much as 40 years to remove the damage done by the Trump presidency to date?

Unfortunately not. This assessment is a direct function of the structure of the U.S. political system at the federal level that greatly strengthen the hand of conservative minorities.

Brett Kavanaugh alters the balance on the Supreme Court decisively. There is no more “swing” vote. The revanchists, keen to dismantle any and all aspects of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s welfare state, are now in control. And Brett Kavanaugh himself may well serve 30 years in his new post.

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About Stephan Richter

Director of the Global Ideas Center, a global network of authors and analysts, and Editor-in-Chief of The Globalist.

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is a senior editor at The Globalist. [United States] (@BillHumphreyMA)

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