I hope that former U.S. President Donald Trump does not choose to stand for election again. I hope this because I believe that conservatism possesses an unhealthy dependence upon messiah-like figures.
This dependence allows an abrogation of personal and subcultural responsibility. The successes of the political messiah are celebrated as ‘ours,’ and the failures as his or hers; we were ‘let down,’ she or he did not live up to our expectations, which is obviously his/her fault. We deserve better, but we shouldn’t have to wait for that ‘better,’ nor actively produce it.
It allows conservatism to metaphorically slip off the pants, flop into a comfortable armchair, and demand ‘Get me a beer, woman!’
Donald Trump was not our beer wench. At the risk of feeding a tract of intestinal worms, neither was former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It doesn’t stop conservatives engaging in incessant what-ifs, however, as though repetition will trigger a rewinding of history.
Those what-ifs have not produced measurable outcomes: evaluation of past strategies and, where necessary and practical, adapted or new strategies.
The lesson that does not seem to have been learned – or even acknowledged – about the Trump Presidency, is that rather than a single individual (Trump himself) letting his voters down, it was the latter – at least those of them with the means to act, beyond simply at the ballot box – who let the President, and the whole country down.
His and our opponents made no secret of their intentions and desires. They literally shouted them from the streets, television, social media, and Hollyweird, ad nauseum. I’m not referring to the election result here; that’s an issue which may never be satisfactorily resolved. Leaving that outcome aside, and acknowledging that the details of funding and co-ordination for much of the activities remain opaque, the intentions to damage the man, his family, businesses, the party he represented, and the United States wholly, were obvious, and indeed celebrated. Yet the core MAGA crew did nothing. The highlighting of hypocrisy is nothing, because it achieved nothing. The outcomes of this highlighting of hypocrisy were not measured because there is no means to quantify delusion.
If you have to ask ‘What could we/they have done?’ you are proving my point. You’re not thinking. You are reacting to stimuli, which is about all conservative activity amounts to. Initiative? Nah, they’ll trip themselves up soon, then they’ll learn the error of their ways, give up (they’re probably just bored or misunderstood), and it’ll all be back to normal. Except for the massive damage they’ve achieved – for them, it is an achievement – in the meantime.
If a person – known or unknown to you – walks up, and states explicitly, multiple times, that they intend to punch you in the face, what do you do? Do you look at their dirty t-shirt that reads ‘Love is Love’ and verbally inform them of the contradiction between their apparel and their stated intention? Or do you quickly conclude that any attempt to trigger guilt or shame, thus producing a modification of their behaviour, is unlikely at this stage of arousal/escalation, and opt for another, more active response?
If Trump stands and wins again in 2024, the same will happen; only the details will change. Here in Australia, we will sit back and calmingly stroke ourselves while he turns his posterior toward us, squats and pushes out a golden egg, which magically floats across the Pacific and hatches into the saviour we’ve always demanded and deserved. ‘About time,’ we sigh (but not too loudly). ‘Now I can get back to the cricket/footy/synchronised extreme-knitting/lecturing about the importance of values to my universal remote control: ‘I have values, you know. Values!’
At the end of four years, we will fantasize about a new messiah, having in the meantime only left the sweaty comfort of our armchair to tend to one orifice or another.
Are conservatives still the fragile princess of traditional fairy tales, unwilling to help themselves in any manner, lest they break a fingernail or risk their social status as victims? Are we still waiting – while everything about us atrophies – for our ‘knight in shining armour (our messiah)’ to slay the dragon, and then present us with a beer/shandy?
Is the atrophy not just taking place within us, but all around us, yet we refuse to acknowledge it?
It is time to look past former President Trump. If he can be of further use, then certainly, we might continue to embrace him. But if he is the only individual or idea or strategy within our vision, we remain deluded that ‘Magic will happen,’ or ‘the Universe will provide.’ Unicorns exist.
Trump is not our beer wench.
Conservatism needs to propel its beer-belly from the saliva-stained armchair, and attempt the perilous journey to the fridge, alone. By doing so, maybe it will finally realise that the voluble noises from the kitchen were not the hippy neighbour Roger giving the wife free practical plumbing advice.