Right now—and this is a real thing—Donald Trump has lost the Secretaries of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Education, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and whatever the heck role Mick Mulvaney held And really, that’s just the tip of the milky white iceberg of milky white people who made the tough moral decision that 3.95 years of inciting violence, instilling racism, and driving divisiveness was simply all they could take. I mean, 3.94 years? Sure. But they always expected that Trump would become presidential before he stopped being that thing. Everyone has their limits, and for a lot of Trump’s associates, those limits seem to be symbolically stepping back at the very last possible second out of a powerful delusion that this will somehow purify them in time for their next six-, seven-, or eight-figure position.
Then, as happens in serious democracies, this run of camels who finally discovered their last straw, led to Trump spending a good part of his week talking over strategy with the MyPillow Guy. Mr. Pillow came to the White House clutching a sheaf of papers that cleverly pointed out Trump could use the insurrection he incited to declare that people were being insurrectiony. Then he could invoke the Insurrection Act. Then, once Trump had installed himself as president for life and turned the CIA and FBI into the KGB and Stasi, respectively, Trump could just declare martial law and shoot them. Really. That was the plan. Plus you get 80% off a full body pillow using the code #CrossTheRubicon.
Admittedly, there’s no truth behind the discount code. I think. But since the pillows are nothing but cloth bags of shredded foam that probably cost Mike Lindell a nickel apiece to manufacture, feel free to give it a try.
In any case, the major point here isn’t that the pillows are demonstrably smarter and more patriotic than the guy who peddles them. It’s that Trump is so devoid of anything that looks like a serious adviser, he really did spend hours in the White House going over a plan to take America along the same path blazed by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and, of course, Adolf. At the direction of the MyPillow Guy.
All of this is extraordinarily sad. But not for Donald Trump. It’s sad for everyone who isn’t Trump.
As The New York Times reports, everything that has happened with Trump, was exactly what had to happen with Trump.
The siege of the Capitol wasn’t a departure for Trump, it was an apotheosis. For years, he’s been telling us he wouldn’t accept an election loss. For years, he’s been urging his followers to violence, refusing to condemn their violence, and insinuating that even greater violence was on the way. As he told Breitbart in 2019, in one of his characteristic threats, “I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
And what do you know, Trump was right. It was very bad.
The Times also points out that Trump didn’t start cheering on mobs overrunning capitols on Jan. 6. That was really more of an endpoint. Trump started off by cheering on crowds who tore through multiple state capitols over social distancing guidelines, or rumors that someone might restrict 100-shot magazines for their AR-15s, or threats to statues dedicated to racist mass-murderers and traitors. In every case, Trump praised the militias, the white supremacists, and the hoarse-throated mob.
What happened in D. C. on Jan. 6 was just a national version of what happened in Wisconsin, in Colorado, and in Kentucky, and in a dozen other states. Trump not only encouraged these events, he even refused to say there was anything wrong with a plot to kidnap and publicly execute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Speaking of which, here’s Trump from the rally that came right before his people swarmed up the Capitol steps, smashed through doors and windows, and went prowling the halls of Congress with handcuffs. “We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople,” said Trump, “the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them … Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Gee. Where did people get the idea that he wanted them to kidnap, try, and execute members of Congress? Right from Trump. (Bonus: Note why Liz Cheney was so willing to sign on to impeachment).
What happened on Jan. 6 was shocking, but it should not have been surprising to anyone. Trump has been calling for this moment since he came down that gold elevator. He’s not just overlooked violence, but encouraged it. He’s made it clear, at every speech and every rally, that beating people up is okay. That violence is good. That executions are fine. In fact, he has complained that there was not enough violence and brutality to suit him in this wimpy modern world. He didn’t just license his followers to smash the police in the face with “thin blue line” flags, he made it inevitable.
Trump is who he has always been. His followers are doing as he has always wanted. None of this was a secret. For the last four years, all of the Republican Party and half of the media has pretended they could not see that Trump was simply a fascist, doing what fascists always do—offering violence and calling it order.
Don’t expect them to start admitting it now.