Mulling The Political Psychology Of A Trump Supporter

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I had a long a painful discussion with a Trump supporter that just left me furious. It’s like they were living in a different universe than me. Their argument boiled down “Lulz, nothing matters” with a heavy dose of “the economy is doing well” and “Trump defeated ISIS” along with a side dish of “he’s securing the borders.”

What made me so angry was I would present the person with number of insane things Trump had done — things that would destroy any other politician — and they either lightly admitted it was outrageous or rationalized it out of existence.

The whole thing left me white hot angry that otherwise sane people could believe such stupid shit. It makes me so angry. I want to make Trump supporters furious. I want them to hate me. But weirdly enough they’re so numb to any disagreement that it’s like talking to someone in a well-medicated cult.

That’s really the only thing I can compare it to — a cult. Trump supporters are in a cult and they’re holding my country hostage. All I can do in response is vote. Maybe engage in some political activity to get help my little corner of the world.

But as of right now, things are looking kind of grim.

‘Have A Great Life’ — #Lyrics To A Woke Power Ballad

Trump, besides putting his grubby hands on a great Beatles lyric, is just a fountain head of lyrics today. So, here goes. The meaning of these lyrics is kind of muddled.

Have A Great Life
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls
please give credit if you produce or perform

the end is near it seems between us
we’re going to have to accept
that the last lap has been run
we’re done, done, done
you’ll be gone soon enough
leaving all this behind

have a great life
is all I have to say
have a great life
I mention to my dismay

the powers that be have kicked you out
you had power over me now you’re just a lout
when we look back upon this time
we’ll struggle to figure out
how it happen at all
we will climb to a new fate
leaving me to wonder why we ever did date

these days are scary
with the tweeting going on
war seems about to happen
so I hide in the lyrics of a song
when it will be over is anyone’s guess
but will tell you now Godspeed and God bless

have a great life
is all I have to say
have a great life
I mention to my dismay

[bridge]
you’re quoting Beatles’ songs
much to may dismay
how would you do such a thing
I say with a sway

but goodbye is all I have to say
you’re gone now for good
at least that is your claim to fame

have a great life
is all I have to say
have a great life
I mention to my dismay

Some Thoughts On How America Gets Out Of This Trump Mess #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The existential question of the day is whether or not Donald Trump is a fluke or the dawn of a new, dystopian era in American history. One thing is fore sure, Trump’s rise to power is the culmination of structural, systemic issues in the American body politic. Not to invoke his name too lightly, but Trump, in a sense, is an American Hitler if you think of history but as the biography of great men.

It is possible that the United States will bounce back, at least momentarily, from this Bad King. I mean, Caligula in all his insanity didn’t manage to bring down the Roman Empire. But I do think Trump is endemic of the end of the American Republic. The entire system is so broken, so built to squash leadership in any meaningful way, that there’s a real chance the United States is fucked.

And, yet, it is at least possible to put a positive spin on things. But it would require some pretty astonishing things to happen. The crux of the issue is — has Trump so fundamentally warped American politics that we can’t go back to traditional politicians? Have we reached Idiotracy at last and from now one, our politicians have to be establish celebrities and our celebrities have to be politicians? The answer to that kind of question will come, probably about November 2018.

When people begin to throw their hats into the presidential ring in earnest in late 2018, that will determine the tempo of things. A lot, unfortunately, depends on one Donald J. Trump. If Trump manages to survive past 2020 and have a second term, it’s really likely that there really will be no turning back. It’s very possible that we will have entered a new era in American political life that really is dark and uncharted. A lot depends who Trump is going to be up against in 2020.

I have long suggested that the only type of person who could defeat Trump, who is nothing more than overgrown middle-school bully, would be the adult equivalent of a middle-school class clown. It seems readily apparent that someone like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or even Chelsea Handler might be the silver bullet that might be able to slay the political monster that is Trump. Handler, in particular is, in a weird way, perfectly suited to the task at hand. She’s got just the right acerbic wit combined with a tough as nails sensibility that she could effectively deal with whatever horrific vitriol the Right wing managed to throw at her. There is the issue of a sex tape released by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, but I would like to think in this bizarre political world we now live in that wouldn’t be held against her too much, at least by most voters.

Meanwhile, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be great candidates as well, but it’s highly unlikely that Stewart would leave his petting zoo in New Jersey or that Colbert would leave a successful late night talk show to run for president.

One thing we have to take seriously is how the Russians might try to meddle in the election again. The American political system is so fucked up in a structural way, that it’s very well possible they could throw the election to Trump AGAIN and nothing would happen. Trump really has a near mystical hold on his followers that is difficult to explain or break. It is very well possible that he will not only survive, but thrive and prosper in the coming days and that there really will be nothing to stop him from finishing two complete terms.

That, of course, would leave the issue of where will America be once he finally has to step down. I would, again, suggest that that will be settled by who his successor is. If Trump’s successor, after eight years in office, is another celebrity, then that would be a definitely different spin on things than if it was a career politician. At this point, it’s too early to tell which it will be. Right now, it seems as though Trump is going to plow his way through the American political system, doing as much damage as possible.

And, yet, if, say, someone like James Comey were to succeed Trump at some point in the future, the American Republic might bounce back a lot quicker than you might think. But that is being really optimistic. It is difficult for me to say in good faith that the United States is even a Republic at all anymore. We are careening towards a theocratic, autocratic plutocracy of sorts. No amount of leadership will fix such long term trends. Effective leadership might manage it, mitigate it or ameliorate it but it won’t eliminate it altogether.

Having said all that, I would also like to say that as an American, I have hope that American exceptionalism still burns in the hearts and minds of its citizens and we ultimately will reject the “managed democracy” of Russia. I’d like to think that at some point people power will kick in and we’ll take back our government from the kleptocracy that it’s succumb to for the time being. But I don’t know, I just don’t know. I can’t predict the future and it could go either way, it really could.

At this point, we’re just going to have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune until November 2018. If the “Blue Wave” really does wash down on the shores of Washington, then we can talk. Then there is a real chance that this Trumpian nightmare will end sooner rather than later and we can put it behind us. But every day Trump is in office, we risk bigger and worse disasters.

A real chance exists that Trump will try to save his sorry ass politically by pulling the biggest “wag the dog” in American history by initiating a “preemptive war” against the DPRK. I could totally see him doing it by, say July 2018, so in about November 2018 his approval rating will be in the high 80s as TV and social media are awash with the spectacular images of the long-oppressed people of North Korea at last being liberated. We could all wake up in 2021 to a truly distopian future.

One fear I have is Trump is, really, the only thing keeping the United States away from a civil war. The peace of mind that Trump gives the insane Right wing may be a weird firebreak that we won’t realize we enjoy until it’s gone. The United States is, right now, effectively two different nations and it could tear itself apart if we don’t find some effective leadership in years ahead. But sometimes you don’t get leadership until there’s a reason for people to rise to the occasion, so who knows what will happen.

Trump’s Campaign Colluded With Russians. Now What. #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It’s pretty obvious that we now have proof that the 2016 Trump Campaign knowingly and in a systematic manner colluded with the Russian government to rig the election in their favor.

The question, of course, is now what?

I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait and hope that Congress is flipped in 2018. That’s all I got. I say that because, well, the Republican Party is so surreal in its partisanship that they would rather protect treasonous behavior on the part of Trump than potentially risk the passage of an enormous tax cut for the wealthiest amongst us.

So, in short, we’re fucked. We are so completely fucked that this lurch towards authoritarianism will grind on for at least another year. In the end, I think this scandal will be a lot like Iran-Contra. We’ll know the facts, the president might even admit what happened and say something akin to “I’m sorry,” but ultimately we won’t get rid of the fucker in any meaningful way.

I fear that even if we do flip Congress and impeach Trump, he won’t be convicted by the Senate. Or if he is convicted by the Senate, I worry he won’t see the vote as legitimate and we’ll have shoot out on the West Lawn between the FBI and the Secret Service.

The prospects of things going back to normal are extremely dim. We’ve entered a new age and the future is dark for the American Republic. I think when we look back upon this period 20 years from now, we’ll see it as the period where the United States finally transitioned from a constitutional democratic republic to an theocratic, autocratic quasi-fascist state.

Is 2018 Our 1968? Next Year May Be A Crucial Year In American History #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The thing we have to understand is that because of gerrymandering, The Resistance could win 54% of the popular vote and still lose the House to Republicans. Let that sink in. That’s why if you love the United States as I do, you may have to seriously contemplate getting out of your comfort zone and begin to actively participate in politics in a way you never have.

The 2018 mid-terms are so crucial because House Republicans are so Vichy and callow that if we don’t vote them out of office in a big way, the morphing of the United States into autocracy. Trump is doing real damage to the American Republic and if nothing happens to change the current chronic Constitutional long-jam we’re in, there may be no stopping Trump completely seizing power.

There is an ebb and flow to politics and it was inevitable that Republicans would come back into power. What we didn’t fully appreciate is the hysterical rage caused by the bullshit echo chamber epitomized by FOX News would make the Republicans so bad at governing. So, we have a historical imperative to throw them out of office in at least the House, if not the Senate. If we could flip the Senate, then we could end the appointment of extremely Right wing, extremely unqualified judges to the federal bench. But we’re kind of desperate, so we need the House to flip more than anything else.

A lot of things could go wrong between now and November 2018. Chief amongst them being, Trump could do his failsafe and start a preemptive war against the DPRK. This is a serious possibility that we need to see with clear eyes. We can’t take for granted that Trump will “do the right thing” and not kill a few hundred thousand people by prompting the North Koreans to freak the fuck out. I am of the opinion that they have a vested interest in not starting a war on their own simply for the reason that they know that in the end they will lose, and lose badly.

Regardless, there is a real chance that 2018 will go down as 1968 as a year where the universe changed in a big way. In many ways, 1968 marked the beginning of the modern age and it will be interesting to see of something similar happens in 2018. We face a historical turning point. Either the Republic fails and we become an autocracy, or it bounces back and Trump is destroyed politically.

I am not very sanguine about our prospects. It seems as though the Republic has fallen already and we’re a “managed democracy” like they have in Russia. It’s all over but the shouting, as the say. But we have a small window of opportunity in 2018. It’s possible, just possible that I’m wrong.

One thing is for sure, we need new leadership. We need a new generation of people to fight the good fight. The current crop of leaders is old and out of touch. Trump isn’t going anywhere, but maybe we can mitigate his damage if we manage to flip Congress in 2018.

The Great Undoing: 2020 & The Death Of The Republican & Democratic Parties

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The Republican Party started about 1856 when several groups, including the Free Soil Party, The “Know Nothings” and the last vestiges of The Wig Party merged. Though they ran a candidate in 1856, a gentleman with the nickname of The Pathfinder, it wasn’t until the victory of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 that the party really came unto its own.

The Republican Party has proven to be surprisingly popular and resilient over the decades, but it appears one Donald J. Trump has killed it. I say this because while Republicans seem likely to grow in power due to the rot the Republic currently suffers, the GOP that I have known my entire life is effectively over. The Republican Party now has become an enormous fetid, rock hard diamond of ideological fecal material lodged in the sewers of the American government.

Because of the likes of faux populist intellectual Steve Bannon, the long-term trend of the party is grow in power while at the same time becoming a parody of itself. It is possible, not probable, that Trump himself on a personal level may smash the Republican Party to bits in 2020 simply because the divide between the Trump-loving base and the Republican Establishment will grow so enormous that the party will split in two like a sinking Titanic.

Unfortunately, the same forces threatening the Republican Party are also threatening the Democratic Party. Republicans have become so obsessed with power and winning at any cost that they are inflicting unprecedented pressure on the center-Left. The Progressive base of the Democratic Party may split from the centrist Democratic Establishment and we’ll have not two, or three, but four parties vying for the presidency in 2020. This, of course, opens an enormous hole for Trump to plow through and it’s very possible that he will sail through the Electoral College to a second term.

Should that happen, which it may not, we will possibly see the greatest political turbulence in American political life since the Civil War. And, remember, all of this is happening in the context of a gradual shift from a constitutional democratic republic to a simple autocracy bound only the populace’s unwillingness to admit this new harsh reality. And that doesn’t even begin to address the efforts of some on the Far Right to force through a Constitutional Convention through state legislatures.

But back to parties.

What might we see happen under this scenario? Depending on the self-evident mercurial personality of Donald Trump, Trump may either inherit the Republican Party brand simply because he controls the base with a near Messianic power, or he may out of sheer spite ditch the name and start a Trump branded party. Meanwhile, the Establishment wings of both the Democratic and Republican parties may merge, leaving a rump Progressive Party to fend for itself.

It’s possible that 20 years from now, there will again be two parties — the Trump Party and the ReDem. I can’t see a Progressive Party lasting very long for various reasons.

Remember, put all of this in context. In the next five to ten years, technology is likely to dramatically reshape the American economy in ways we can just barely fathom currently. So, it’s possible that Trump Party will grow in power accordingly and we’ll swerve into a Theocratic Fascist state out of default, if nothing else.

Regardless, it’s unlikely the current two party system is going to stay very stable in the coming years.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va.

American Autocracy #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is too easy to look at the developments of the last year and say, “Lulz, nothing matters!” But that would be a grave injustice to the American experiment in self-governance. We are now in dangerous territory. We like to think only places like Russia and Turkey can succumb to the power of an autocrat and become a “managed democracy.”

At least, that’s what I used to think.

But recent developments make me realize that unless something changes we are slouching towards a new era in American governance. A number of things are coming together at the same time. Dark money, the rise of the Steve Bannon style of populism as well as Donald Trump himself are all shaking the foundations of the American Republic.

If this was an earlier age, historians would say our Republic was gradually slipping into an Empire, with a very specific quirk: the Emperor was elected every four years, but in fact only left office because the Constitution limited him or her to eight years in office. What’s more troublesome is it’s possible America is going to lurch into a “managed democracy” — or already has — and there’s no going back. When a nation has become so divided and partisan that not even accusations of pedophilia can knock a US Senate candidate as Alabama’s Roy Moore out of the race, you know something’s wrong.

All of this leads to the question of what to do. Are we doomed? Is this how the American democratic constitutional Republic ends? Are just one stop away from becoming a quasi-theocratic fascistic state?

Every time I get despondent and assume the worst, I realize I just can’t give up. I just can’t give up on the traditional concept of the United States that I was born to assume was always there. Here are some ideas on how to if not fix, at least ameliorate the problems facing us.

Don’t Enrage, Engage
This is something that the individual can do, regardless of social status or power. Instead of living in your personal political bubble, be willing to engage in cogent political discourse with someone who disagrees with you. Doing so in person is even better. President Obama said something to this effect in his parting speech. Social media — especially how easily it is to for outside forces to influence it — may be what we look back as the deathblow to our American democracy. We have to engage. We have to at least attempt to talk to people we don’t agree with, even if they are angry and think everything we believe is “fake news.” This is really tough and even I find myself not doing it nearly as much as I should.

Liberals Need More Empathy
I’m not suggesting liberals have to compromise everything they believe in. But liberals need to at least attempt to understand why they’re hated so much. Liberals are hated so much that the people who hate them don’t even really understand why they hate them. Liberals too often come off as smug. About half the country is really hurting and is only going to hurt more as technology takes low skill, high wage jobs like truck driver away. It’s a delicate balance given how the Right is full of rage and absolutely refuses to compromise in any way. The Right wants absolute power and absolute victory at all costs and liberals need to take this cold hard fact seriously.

Those are two pretty easy fixes, now let’s move on to some more existential solutions that are probably significantly more difficult to implement.

We Need A New Social Media Platform
We need to burn the village to save it. We need to kill Twitter. Twitter is a real threat to our democracy. I have repeatedly suggested that a new platform designed from the ground up to address the problems of Twitter should be designed. It also might be used to aide and abet people who wanted to protest the Trump Administration should it do something drastic like fire Bob Mueller. A new social media platform designed to fix the problems of Twitter marketed correctly would probably be a success from the get-go for several reasons. A lot of Left leaning celebrities would flock to such a service if they felt more safe. They, in turn, would bring fans and content along with them.

We Need New Leaders
If the rise of Donald Trump has show us anything, it’s that the world of celebrity and entertainment is now completely fused with politics. The center-Left needs to fight fire with fire and recruit leaders from the entertainment industry. I would suggest someone like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be a great start. But, really, I would even go so far as to say someone like Chelsea Handler might do the trick given how costic our political life has become.

Those solutions, too, don’t even begin to address the deep seated problems with the American Republic. The United States really is two different nations now and it is up to us to prevent a civil war. It is very possible that the Blue States will bolt the United States for no other reason than they feel they are no longer welcome. It will be interesting to see how that exactly plays out.

Should the worse happen and Trump fire Bob Mueller the gauntlet will be thrown down, the Rubicon will be crossed. We get our answer. We will learn once and for all if “American exceptionalism” has at last come to an end.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. You can reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Why War With The #DPRK May Be Inevitable

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While it pains me to admit this, I fear we have to accept that war between the United States and the DPRK is almost frightfully inevitable in the near future. When I say “near future” I say sometime between now and Election Day 2018.

I say this because Donald Trump not only lacks basic human empathy, but his personality is such that he will desperately want to boost his poll numbers by Election Day 2018 so Congress doesn’t flip and lead to his impeachment and conviction. What better way to do exactly this than to do a preemptive war against the DPRK in just the right way so by November 2018 American television screens will be plastered with the imagines of the oppressed citizens of North Korea being liberated.

The moment a preemptive war with the DPRK starts, the political clock will be stopped and restarted. The moment the war starts, there will be a darkness at noon not seen since 9/11. And Trump will not only see an enormous boost in his popularity, he will also be a war president with all of the additional power that is associated with that designation.

There is a real risk that should a war with the DPRK begin, that we’ll wake up a few later and there we’ll be in a significantly more dystopian world than we ever imagined. The what’s even more troublesome is many liberals will, once the war starts, be quite supportive of a war with the DPRK because the people of the DPRK legitimately do deserve to be liberated. It’s just that up until this point, the cost of that liberation would be so tragic and so costly that we did not give it real honest thought.

But now, because of the self-evident mercurial nature of Trump what was once unthinkable is now definitely thinkable. If 3,000 deaths on 9/11 are enough to fundamentally change the American experience, imagine what 30,000 American expat dead caused by a preemptive war with the DPARK might change. It seems obvious that we’re rushing towards a dark and dystopian future because of a possible war with the DPRK.

I’m not saying I can predict the future, but I am saying the conditions are there for a preemptive war with the DPRK. All I can say is we will have to be prepared to fight for the American Republic when a war with the DPRK tests it beyond what we could have possibly imagined would ever happen.

Is It Even Possible To Engage Trump Supporters At This Point? #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Something I struggle with is engaging Trump supporters. I struggle to understand their psychology. I worry that if people like me dismiss Trumpist out of hand, that will lead to some very bad things down the road. Like, actual violence in the United States as the county finally tears itself apart like a sinking Titanic.

It is really easy — intellectually lazy, even — to do just that. To simply wince, wave your hand and assume that because Trump supporters continue to be sycophants for a racist, misogynistic bigot that they aren’t worth talking to.

I have struggled to talk to them since Trump got elected and more often than not, I just got angry. One of the more difficult issues to address when it comes to Trump supporters is their America First isolationism. For a “globalist cuck” like myself, it’s difficult for me to grok someone who completely rejects something that seems pretty self-evident: that the United States having a proactive foreign policy is a force for good across the globe. How do you engage someone who rejects 70 years of conventional wisdom? That particular issue is so difficult for me to process that I simply don’t know where to begin.

I don’t know if I’m not smart enough or what when it comes to this particular issue. How do you address the world view of someone who rejects the basis of Pax Americana? They want America to turn inward in a way not seen since before World War II. I just don’t have a ready argument for people who reject any source of facts I might produce on the matter as “fake news.”

But I think some of it all boils down to the absolute rage and feeling of disenfranchisement that that core group of 37% of the electorate that supports Trump no matter what feels. It now, in hindsight, is obvious that because of technological and economic changes that someone like Trump was inevitable. Someone was going to see an obvious political opportunity and strike. Little did we ever imagine that it would be a celebrity TV gameshow host who would do it. And with the help of the Russians, no less! But it happened.

That Russian interference is something that should give all patriots pause for thought. That American conservatives are so detached from the world I know and love, that they feel so disenfranchised that they would willingly ignore what is tantamount to treason on the part of the Trump campaign simply because they want to turn back the policies of the first African American president is pretty mind boggling. The only thing I can compare it to is Vichy France.

We need a national conversation between the rural Trump supporting world and the urban progressive world. We can’t just give up. If we give up we’re doomed. We’re doomed to a civil war. Any student of history will tall you that in the late 1850s, a similar dynamic was afoot in the American body politic as the industrial North with free labor grew increasingly distant from the slave based South.

I love America and I don’t want a civil war. So, that’s why myself and people like me who consider themselves center-Left have an obligation to try to engage Trumpists. We have to figure out how to engage them without compromising to such an extent that we give up everything we believe in. It’s extremely difficult, however.

The crux of the problem we face is just that. Technology has made is so easy to live in our own little bubble that that we aren’t forced to come up with arguments to use against people who disagree with us the most. Bac 30 years ago, we all had a common reality and could agree on the facts. Now, too often, at least with Trumpists, anything they don’t agree with is “fake news.”

When I’m feeling in a particularly bleak mood, I think a civil war is inevitable. It definitely seems that way right now. But if the right leadership arises maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong. We need leaders willing to unite us, not divide us. But it could be we’re doomed and we’ll look back at this era in our history as the precursor to a civil war or worse.

#Trump, A Reassessment: Mulling The Long Con #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

For about six months after Trump’s election, I was so angry that I seethed with rage. Now that I have calmed down considerably, I find myself struggling to understand why Trump won and what is continued appeal is for roughly 37% of the American electorate.

We have to understand that Trump is a product of social media. Something about the rise of social media has made people extremely partisan. Some of it has to do, I think, with how easy it is to block or otherwise avoid people who disagree with you. So, both sides simply wallow in an echo chamber of things they agree with, leading to the breakdown of the traditional basic need of democracy to have consensus, compromise and synthesis. Throw in dark money, gerrymandering and Russian meddling through bots and paid trolls and you have us where we are today.

And, yet, we have one significant thing to be thankful for: Trump has no political ideology. He has no strategy. He’s all about the tactical win. He’s all about winning the moment. If Trump had the rock-hard ideology of, say, Pat Buchanan, we would be in serious trouble indeed.

But, as it stands, there is no Trumpism without Trump. Whatever magical mystery power Trump has over a sizable chunk of the electorate is attached to him personally. So, really, the only way to get rid of Trumpism is to completely vanquish Trump personally as a political force. That is quite tricky because the American Republic is on such shaky legs for various reasons that the core problems that allowed the Trump caner to fester will remain for many years to come.

One issue is people like me are too quick to enrage and not engage Trump supporters because, well, we’re at a loss as to where to begin. Where do we begin to engage people who we feel support a racist, misogynist bigoted nativist? I struggle to do that for various reasons. I closest I can come is seeing that the blind rage of people in rural areas about the modern liberal order was so great in 2016 that they were willing to overlook any flaw on Trump’s part because they thought he would, in fact “drain the swamp.”

That’s the thing that I think people like me have the most difficulty understanding: that core group of people who support Trump really do support the authoritarian chaos that he has caused since he came to power. That’s what they wanted. It’s difficult for secular humanists like me understand why “values voters” could possibly support the thrice married Trump. But they do. They do because they know that while he’s using them for his own political needs, he will, in fact give them the reach around that they have longed for so desperately. He gives them a sense of power that they haven’t felt in decades, if ever. The fact that it’s all a gross political ploy doesn’t phase them.

Another thing people like me struggle to understand is that fact that rock hard core group of Trump supporters that aren’t going anywhere really do think a Hillary Clinton administration would have been worse. They actually, to this day, really think that. They may be a lot more quiet than they were election day night, but they still think it.

Which raises an interesting counter-factual. What if Clinton had won? What would the world look like a year after the election? Probably something like this: instead of Trump’s tweets causing chaos from the White House, they would incite the Republican Congress to look for any number of different reasons to impeach Clinton and they probably would have gotten pretty damn close.

But Trump won. So we have to deal with the consequences. One of the crucial unknowns is will things snap back into place once Trump finally leaves the public sphere, or are we doomed. Are we going to suffer a Russian-style autocracy from now on because of the damage that Trump has inflicted on our body politic, or will we go back to some semblance of normalcy once he’s gone?

The answer to this question lies, in great part, to who succeeds Trump. If it’s Mike Pence, probably things will be more likely to snap back into some semblance of being normal. However, if Trump manages to last a full term, or even get re-elected, all bets are off. It is possible, probably probable, that we’ve reached some sort of event horizon whereby the realms of celebrity and politics are so muddle that they are indistinguishable.

It may be that the person who manages to heal the divides caused by Trump — and they are many — won’t be a traditional politician at all, but a liberal celebrity who manages to bridge the gaping wound that Trump has caused in our national psyche. The longer Trump stays president, the more likely it will be, say a Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart who succeeds him. I like to think that the only person who stands up to the middle school bully is the middle school class clown and it would make a lot of sense if someone like them took up the challenge of bringing down Trumpism. Though of late I’ve begun to think that the only person who could handle the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune any Democrat would suffer at the hands of FOX News’ bullshit would be someone tough as nails like Chelsea Handler.

The most ominous aspect of all of this is it’s possible we’re doomed. It really is possible that the United States is now a failed state and the only thing keeping it together is Trump himself. It’s possible that Trumpists are so completely deluded and brainwashed by their bullshit bubble that once he’s no longer in power things will grow dire indeed. And that doesn’t even begin to address the possibility that someone really dangerous — a charismatic Right-wing nutjob with an ideology — may learn from the mistakes of Trump and inflict the final death blow to the American Republic. That we really may fall of the precipitous into a dystopia.

I would like to think I have some hope that that worse case scenario won’t happen, but I don’t. History doesn’t go in a straight line and there are absolutely no assurances that the good guys will win. All we can hope is that some sort of sanity will return to American political discussion sooner rather than later.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.