There was a whole fear-intoxicated storm of regular people worrying about Trump running again as soon as he’d lost in 2020, their apparent assumption being that nothing much would change in the political landscape and his standing in it over the next four years – even though he’d just lost by seven million votes, a remarkable achievement for a sitting president.
Paid pundits who believe they can prophesy the future also tend to believe it will look just like the present, only more so – hello, “red wave”, which turned out to be a bunch of people in red Maga hats waving bye.
The road we’re on is not linear; you’re probably dizzy like me from the hairpin turns and the precipices. People fall off it all the time into the abyss below, as one does when driving a straight line on a curving road.
The pundits apparently assumed that Trump’s once-strong standing was permanent, but while true-believer Maga folks keep buying what Trump is selling, a lot of other people who tried out what was on offer have moved on, including Rupert Murdoch.
Meanwhile, by demanding Republican politicians demonstrate loyalty to himself and his big lie, Trump has managed to splinter a political party once renowned for its internal discipline.
“We underperformed among independents and moderates,” said the former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, “because their impression of many of the people in our party and leadership roles is that they are involved in chaos and negativity and excessive attacks.”
The Washington Post yesterday referred to what’s going on in the Grand Old Party as a “full scale brawl”, though I thought the brawl/frat party was 2017-2021, and this is the bickering and the hangover.
There is only one unchangeable fact in politics and life in general and you could fold in evolutionary biology and economics and the leftovers in your refrigerator: things change.
Medieval philosophers were fond of the image of the wheel of fortune, which was an allegory of fickle fate before it was a gameshow: those who rode the wheel up eventually ride the wheel down. They do.
I give you tech’s latest whiz kid, crypto-mogul Sam Bankman-Fried (who just reportedly changed his own net worth from $10bn to $0 while also losing many billions of other people’s money in investments he managed).
Let me offer as well the shrunken valuation of Tesla, Meta (AKA Facebook), Amazon (first corporation to lose a trillion in value), Alphabet (aka Google), Microsoft and all the rest.
Things change, but apparently a lot of tech companies did business as though low interest rates were eternal and then, surprise, they went up and stocks went down.
People invested in cryptocurrency as though it was only going to go up, and then speaking of surprising, the wheel turned, and a lot of them rode all the way down into the mire.
When they get there, they can say hi to Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos, now awaiting her prison sentence, and former Trump campaign heads Paul Manafort, serving seven and a half years, and Steve Bannon, appealing his four-month sentence.
Wheels turn. At least the Dutch tulip bubble left people with tulips. By the way, climate is much more important than all of this and all of them.
The same day that Trump begged for attention to his unsurprising ambitions in Florida, Allen H Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer announced in a New York City courtroom that the Trumps bought him a cake (“a small cake”, he insisted) when his plea deal for fraud was finalized earlier this year. The same day Trump and Weisselberg made their announcements, Kevin D Williamson announced in a New York Times editorial that Trump could win in 2024.
The piece featured the kind of loopy illogic white male conservatives writing for the New York Times specialize in: “Because American politics has been so dominated by an entertainer, the most inevitable thing in the world is a sequel” it began.
Trump had his go at a second season and lost by seven million votes. Stewing in his own bile and venom in his soon-to-be-devoured-by-sea-level-rise Florida folly is the sequel.
Being blamed for the midterms’ blue wave is the sequel. Backing Dr Oz and Herschel Walker, Doug Mastriano and Blake Masters for the Senate and a bunch of big lie candidates for secretary of state, who also lost, is the sequel.
Having Fox News recently feature a chyron that says, “Democrats see Trump as easiest to beat” is the sequel. So bring it on, desperate grasp for a third season. It’s not like this is some perennially beloved gameshow, like Wheel of Fortune though there are still chances it’s “America’s biggest loser”.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.