Maybe using a different strategy the Democrats could have cast Trump out into political irrelevancy, maybe not. The point is they messed up, with good intentions spoiled with a rather sickly infusion of self righteousness. Let there be no mistake. Just as America is the only country in the world where the citizenry is legally armed and empowered in certain circumstances to kill without penalty, the word fight is used more than another in political campaign rhetoric by all parties and candidates.
Already, whilst what Biden says is interesting and even worthy, what Trump says, again, grabs the headlines. Trumpism has not changed America. It has instead unmasked what the Unites States, from the beginning, always was. An awkward coalition between two different visions of the future, two conflicting interpretations of freedom, two ideals for the roles and responsibilities of individuals versus the State. The conflict is part and parcel of America’s energy, but it also inhibits its ability to resolve. Anything.
During the twentieth century, Democracy was engaged in multiple defences from assaults by Autocracy, Communism, Fascism and Dictatorship and emerged battered but triumphant. But now the combination of free markets and globalisation has allowed neglect by elected politicians, together with abuse of power by ruling elites in whose hands 90% of everything is gripped, to create a new, far more dangerous, challenge. At the start of the twenty-first century the greatest threat to democracy, comes from democracy itself.
For it has allowed, even promoted, the very behaviors and actions which have created a groundswell of ordinary decent people who, one way or another, through no fault of their own, have become casualties of this age of top down prosperity which values assets over labour, wealth over sufficiency, power over service. Every free country, like the contagion of Covid, now has this growing cancer of resentment and discontent. In most it is scattered across the populations but in America it is concentrated in those who see their heritage reviled, their statues torn down, their faith under threat, their wellbeing diminished. This is the bedrock of what is called Trump’s base. Their champion was a terrible President, but as a showman campaigner there is nobody to touch him.
Trump has not gone away. He has survived two ill judged Impeachments. He can run again in 2024 and if he does he could win. If the issues above set out are not well on the way to being fixed by then, he will.