Why the age of Trumpism isn’t over

Why the age of Trumpism isnt over

By Aishi Debroy, Co-Web Content Editor

To the millions of progressives who opposed Donald Trump’s presidency, do not get too comfortable celebrating President Joe Biden’s victory. Trump lost the 2020 election, but that does not mean he lost the movement he cultivated for four years. Although the former president left office on Jan. 20, his legacy has notoriously stained the White House so that Trumpism will outlive and outlast Trump. 

In this case, Trumpism refers to the political movement ushered in by the 45th president of the United States, introducing a new wave of authoritarian, xenophobic and anti-science politics. In fact, what historians are calling the “Age of Trump” can be broken down into three categories that explain why his rhetoric and policies will leave a long-lasting effect: distrust, distaste and a damaged democracy. 

A large part of Donald Trump’s support base holds distrust of everything, from scholars to scientists, which has led to what I like to call a “fake news epidemic.” In the minds of many Trump supporters, the media wants to spread fake information and is inherently against the public. According to a Reuters Institute poll, the trust in media fell from 25% to 13% among conservative-leaning respondents from 2015 to 2020, while trust grew among left-leaning respondents to 39%. However, news outlets have not been the only sources subject to intense skepticism. Trump’s “fake news” slogan has decreased the trust in science and even the government among his supporters. 

Minimizing the magnitude of and making a mockery of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as dismissing scientists’ concerns on climate change are just a few of Trump’s attacks on science. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the Trump administration took only 2 1/2 years to make the same number of attacks as George W. Bush’s infamously anti-science administration, which lasted eight years. 

Trump’s own government agencies were not exempt from his critiques either, as he “jokingly” labeled them “the Deep State Department.” He also refused to read daily briefs, one of which contained warnings of the pandemic. His negligence leaves the American public in an extremely vulnerable situation, seeing as deaths continue to skyrocket and many of his supporters still refuse to take pandemic precautions. 

Second, “distaste” is a gross generalization of the rise in prejudice and violence seen in the past four years, with a direct correlation between Trump campaign events and hate crimes. In fact, FBI data shows a 17% rise in hate crimes during Trump’s first year in office, with the second-largest spike (first being post-9/11) over the past 25 years in counties where Trump won by large margins. These crimes are motivated by antisemitic, racist, anti-LGBTQ or xenophobic groups with intent to maim or kill.

Lastly, the most alarming and long-lasting effect of Trumpism is a rise in authoritarianism and facism, leading to a truly damaged American democracy. Trump’s legacy has redefined the narrative on the political right, walking a fine line between conservatism and authoritarianism. The sheer number of the “14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism” that coincide with Trump’s America is startling, becoming a constant conversation among experts and historians. 

The attempted coup that occurred on Jan. 6, as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building is a critical example of the effects of Trumpism. As his staunch supporters reach to defend his actions that have embolden these domestic terrorists, the administration continues to deepen inequality. Trump and most billionaires relish in the money taken from marginalized American’s tears. 

The economic, environmental and ethical losses we have faced as a country under Trumpism will always outweigh any good that might have happened. What we have left moving forward into 2021 are the remnants of a polarized public, a not-so-united United States. If we want to shake the effects of Trumpism, we need to start reevaluating “patriotism” and realize that no politician should be idolized.

To ameliorate the effects, we need to explore diversity and increase intergroup contact, listen to different perspectives while forming our own, approach issues with objectivity and vote on policies without a party loyalty mindset. Most Americans want a better life for all, and those with the sole intention to spread hatred and violence should not be emboldened, especially by the highest office in the country.