That so many Americans are interested in Presidential “legacies” and are personally and emotionally involved with “my President” and "my leader” is unhealthy. After all, the President was supposed to be a Constitutional public official.
A President should respect the Constitution and Union, obey and enforce the laws, and keep a firm but prudent stance in regard to the world beyond our borders. He was not assigned to be the leader of the world or to have a legacy as the reformer of human society. “Legacies” usually mean some change in society and change is always the agenda of some self-interested minority.
And we should remember that any President is always first and foremost a politician.
There are still optimists who think Trump might yet emerge as the winner of a second term. He has against him much of the judiciary and of his own party, the authorities in most of the States in question, the entire federal law enforcement apparatus, the military, and the media. Suppose the unlikely event that he emerges victorious from the lawsuits, the States, the Electoral College, and the House of Representatives. Does he have the determination, the skill and vision, and the support in power to deal with the obstruction and violent uprising that is bound to come?
His election would provoke the greatest law and order crisis ever seen in an English-speaking country in modern times. We can expect conditions similar to what preceded dictatorships in Russia and Germany. The Enemy is well-organised, we Deplorables are not.
Wishful thinkers are convinced that Trump has left a “legacy” of a new perspective and direction in American politics and society, that he has permanently reformed the Republican party and given a voice to us Deplorables, the millions who have supported him.
It might be useful to consider how we Deplorables will be faring after late January. Will we have a better view of the future of our country? No. Will we feel more secure? No. Are we less fearful of the federal government? No. Are we likely to be more prosperous? In fact, millions of us have been devastated economically by Trump’s truckling to the bureaucracy over the Covid scare.
How many Trump voters and policemen have now been killed and maimed by “peaceful protesters”? How many are now in prison for defending themselves against thugs who have been freed? I see no evidence that Trump really cares about this and I know that the Republican Establishment does not.
In power Trump was unable to master the Republican Establishment. Is he more likely to do so out of power? Nothing prevents the party from reverting to its natural state, serving the capitalists and providing public office to its myriads of mediocrities while expecting to keep the votes of us Deplorables who have nowhere else to go---even after four years of Trump.
Good folks in Georgia are holding rallies and demonstrations in support of the GOP candidates in two doubtful U.S. Senate elections. And what use if Republicans maintain a slight majority in the Senate? Both the candidates are weak on immigration and the defense of Southern symbols. And doubtless Mitt Romney is smiling complacently at the prospect of thwarting any opposition to the Harris agenda. Trump is working for the candidates. He is not doing it for himself or his people, but for the Party, which will show no gratitude. Romney is a genuine Republican while Trump is a Republican in Name Only.
Trump’s great and enthusiastic support rests upon his rhetorical performance in repudiation of the Deep State. But there is nothing substantial to justify this support, which is entirely sympathetic and hopeful without even the rudiments of a useful organisation of the Red People. Making America Great Again is a slogan, not a political agenda.
A Trump post-presidential movement will require an organisation, a platform of tangible satisfactions for his voters, and a clear rallying justification. (And a determination to destroy the Republican party.)
The primary constituency of both parties is the financiers. This is a given of American government since 1865. But beyond that the parties still have to win elections. The Democrats already have all that is needed. They offer tangible benefits, i.e. money rewards, to the bureaucrats and minorities. They have a rationale---Cultural Marxism, an evil delusion but one that seems to attract millions of Americans. Red State Americans have nothing except our discontent.
It is true that Trump has suffered slander and obstruction of an extent never before seen by an elected Chief of State. His task was very likely impossible for anyone. But he is his own worst enemy whose legacy will be but a blip in the story of American degeneration.
But there might be still some hope for a legacy. Trump might actually come to understand the people for whom he has posed as a spokesman and become the genuine leader of a movement or a new party that represents them. Perhaps there are new younger leaders rising now from the grassroots who will speak for us Red people. That prospect is hopeful, providing such potential leaders are not bought or suppressed by the Republicans before they can become effective.
A real historical view of Donald Trump’s one term in the White House will require the passage of considerable time. Assuming intelligent history is still being written twenty years from now, not an entirely safe assumption, the emphasis will probably be on Trump’s role, positive or negative, in the degeneration of American society that is the main theme of our time.
The President was supposed to be the Chief Magistrate of the Union, responsible for administering the executive branch and enforcing the federal law, keeping up the armed forces, and being the front man for our very limited contacts with foreign governments. Like the rest of the Constitution, that President disappeared long ago, to be replaced by any number of made-up responsibilities, including Leader of the World.
But we might take a look at how Trump has performed in his actual constitutional responsibility.
*His appointments have been catastrophically bad, right up to the last weeks of the administration. He has apparently even now not realised that he needed to appoint people who support him to high executive offices. The federal branch has remained an employment bureau for Republican hacks, most of whom disdain him and his voters. Good people were available and ready, but were never called. Should he get a second term is it likely he will do any better? No, the Republican Establishment will become even stronger with a beleaguered and lame- duck President.
It is claimed that he has appointed good judges, but that remains to be seen.
*Immigration, his signal issue and vital responsibility. A few gestures, marginal, have been made in securing the border, but too little and too late. Illegal immigrants remain in the millions and continue to come. The gap between campaign promise and action is immense.
*The President should be enforcing the laws, not only in regard to defending the borders. Yet Trump has failed to pursue the obvious course of prosecuting Hillary Clinton, and even the evil men who illegally conspired inside the government against himself. We should ask ourselves why. Such prosecutions would have exposed dramatically the corruption of the Deep State. The Democrats drove Nixon out of office after he carried 48 States. Without any doubt Trump will spend his next years out of power defending himself against official charges, mostly, like his impeachment, phony. He may yet win himself personal immunity by some concession to the enemy.
*He might also have taken some preventive measures against the overwhelming election fraud that has defeated him. But he seemingly left this to the Republican Establishment, eager to get rid of him and get back to business-as-usual.
*Law enforcement rightly should be a local and State matter. But the government has never shown any hesitation in federalising law enforcement when it fit their agenda. A foreign billionaire is subsidising violent mobs in the streets. He has been busy promoting the election and appointment of local district attorneys who favour those mobs and are inimical to decent citizens. This is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Nor does it fit any legitimate definition of government of, by, and for the people. The situation is ripe for RICO investigations. Trump could have made himself a champion of democracy for that.
*Another entirely lost opportunity to be the champion of democracy was to move against the internet oligarchs. These billionaires make government of the people impossible and they are the active censors of Trump and his people. A little creative statesmanship could go a long way toward curbing such illegitimate power.
*Trump’s welcome promise in foreign affairs was a wind-down in international interference. Who can forget his bold repudiation of Bush the Lesser’s illegal and catastrophic war-making and his promise of peace with Russia? All gone and forgotten. It is hard to find anything substantial Trump has done for us Deplorables, but he is certainly the best president the Likud party ever had.
*Covid. It was natural to be cautious at first when such a threat appeared, especially since its origins were in the vicinity of a Chinese poison facility. (I have yet to see any explanation of why U.S. troops were operating in the same vicinity shortly before. I doubt if many Americans even know such things are going on.) While Trump showed some personal disdain for the panic, he did nothing else. He lost a great opportunity to defy the bureaucracy and preach common sense to the public. But he let the lockdowns go on and even supported the dubious vaccination business, promising that it would be implemented by the army. He damaged the people, mostly his own supporters, economically beyond repair and left the enemy free reign to go on with the tyranny.
*The candidate might have marshalled a real re-election campaign, championing real issues and making clear to the people the evil of his opponent’s support and agenda. Instead, he never rose above the daily news cycle or effectively countered the opposition. Voters rallied to him out of fear of the other side, not because he presented them with any clear alternative.
In my first paragraph I mentioned Trump’s evaluation in the light of history. Actually that is already decided. What memorable speech or Presidential message has he left in the hearts of the people? The historical record, which only the most deep and contrary future historians will question, already has Trump down as a dangerous man and a failure from whom America was saved by the righteous and wise.
White picket fences
Comic books that were actually intended to be funny
When boys could play football in the street without fear or helmets
When a boy could explore the woods alone with a rifle (probably an old .22)
Old Fashioned service stations with 35 cent per gallon gas and air pumps that were free and actually worked
The Southern Methodist Church
I don’t miss it but it was certainly a better time when all young men went into the service instead of just poor men (and women).
A country too honourable to put women in harm’s way
Smokehouses and tobacco curing barns
Huge pots of Brunswick stew cooked and served outdoors
Old-time windup Southern orators in white suits. (My favourite was Senator Clyde R. Hoey of North Carolina.)
When abortions were done rarely and quietly and only for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
When county courthouses and state buildings were not armed fortresses excluding citizens
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews