Trump defeated but not Trumpism

Something you will hear a lot of is that Trump has been defeated but not Trumpism. What this means is that the Republican Party overall did well enough that it will not treat Trump as a pariah. In fact he may remain the most powerful Republican for the next four years. There is talk he may set up his own TV network or show, or even run again. Of course that may all change as his legal problems grow once he leaves office.

Let’s look at the overall results:

  • President: Trump looks likely to lose by around 4% to 5% on the popular vote and around 232 – 306 in the electoral college.
  • Senate: There are two run off elections in Georgia. The best result for GOP is 52-48. Worst is a 50-50 tie which would see the Senate flip
  • House: No Republican lost their seat. Seven Democrats have. Dems picked up three open seats. Overall GOP up six at this stage.
  • States: Democrats have not won a single state legislature off the GOP. GOP won New Hampshire House and Senate and Montana Governorship giving them control of all three parts of Government there. This has a big impact on redistricting after the census

So it appears unlikely the GOP as a whole will turn its back on Trump and Trumpism. They have a decent chance of winning the House in 2022. The Senate may be more challenging for them as they will be defending 20 seats and the Democrats 12.

So what do we mean by Trumpism. It is hard to define but I’d divide it up into three areas – policies, style and authoritarism.

Policies

Trumpist policies which differ from traditional GOP ones are anti free trade, anti military intervention and no concern about deficits or debt.

It is unlikely that the GOP will revert back to its former policy stances, even though some individual politicians will.

Style

It is likely aspiring 2024 candidates will try and follow the Trump style to some degree. By style I mean the highly combative take no prisoners approach where you demonise your opponents and work at getting out your base rather than persuading centrist voters. I expect more prominent GOP politicians will attack the media relentlessly and continue populist rhetoric where all the problems of society are blamed on identifiable groups (illegal immigrants, Antifa, media, etc). I expect the GOP will especially fully fight a culture war against identity politics on the left. This is what most motivates their base.

Authoritarianism

Trump broke numerous democratic values and norms. He sacked the FBI Director for not dropping an investigation. He blackmailed Ukraine to try and smear his opponents. He publicly demanded charges be dropped against his friends and laid against his opponents. He has spent months undermining the legitimacy of elections.

This is the area least likely to be taken up by others in the GOP. They don’t share Trump’s psychological disorders and it is hard to see what Trump did here working for anyone else.

So overall I suspect the GOP will reject authoritarianism but continue to embrace Trumpist policies and a Trumpian combative style to the culture war.

Whether this works will depend partly on how well Biden governs as President and also the final results of the Senate elections. Personally I expect the GOp to win at least one of the Georgia run offs as I can’t see Georgia wanting to hand over both chambers of Congress to the Democrats.

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