Sunday, 29 November, 2020
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OPINION

Trump Lost, Trumpism Won



Aashish Mishra

The people of the United States of America (USA) have spoken and they want Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. as their next president. Instead of conceding his defeat in the election, incumbent president Donald Trump has filed numerous lawsuits, challenging the election results. But presuming that they go nowhere, Joe Biden is likely to be inaugurated as the 46th President of the USA on January 20.
However, Biden’s election does not mean Trump’s rejection. In fact, Trump won the second-highest number of votes for any presidential candidate in the American history (the highest was this time’s winner Joe Biden) and increased his popular vote share by 11 per cent. This means more people voted for Trump this time than in 2016. Yes, Biden got more votes but they did not come at Trump’s expense.
Trump, as a person, may or may not have lost (depending on the outcome of the aforementioned lawsuits) but Trumpism definitely did not. White rural working-class Americans continue to embrace Trump, so much so that the entire Republican Party has been forced to back him. Even after he has lost, he remains the face of Republicans because he just has that much support. Whether Trump stays or goes, Trumpism has become a mainstay of conservatism in America.
Also, when we dive into the minutia of the election results, we see that while Trump may have lost, his conservatism won. Illinois elected Biden for president but voted down the Democrats’ income tax plan. California, a state that is blue to its core, unsurprisingly voted for Biden but surprisingly voted against his proposal of affirmative action in workplaces.
Similarly, Biden’s victory did not translate into the victory of his peers. His Democratic Party lost seats in the House of Representatives and does not look like it will win a majority in the Senate. This almost never happens in America. A person who defeats an incumbent also carries his party to Congressional gains. In 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated George HW Bush, Democrats gained three seats in the Senate. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter, Republicans snatched 12 Senate seats from Democratic legislators. As far back as 1932, when Franklin Roosevelt limited Herbert Hoover to a one-term presidency, the Democrats gained nearly 100 seats in the House of Representatives and a dozen in the Senate.
What all this shows is that people were fed up with Trump, not his ideas. The American citizens wanted someone new in the White House but not necessarily something new for their country. The 2020 vote was a vote against Trump personally, not against Trumpism. And that is what will truly make an impact in the long-run.
Republicans have seen just how popular Trumpism is and just how popular peddling it can make them. They stood by Trump throughout the Mueller investigation, supported him during the impeachment, defended his every action, repeated and amplified everything he said (truth or otherwise) and essentially made his words de facto party policy and were quite clearly rewarded for it. The message this gives is that echoing Trumpist views wins votes. The astoundingly large voter base garnered by Trump is a signal to other Republicans that Trumpism is a viable strategy to increase one’s chances of entering and staying in office. The right-wing conservative base that feels they have been victimised by the progressive globalised system will want and demand Trump for generations to come. And, naturally, where there is demand, there is bound to be supply.
Trump is a person; a significant person, but a person nonetheless. If not this year then he would have definitely gone four years later. But Trumpism is here to stay.

How do you feel after reading this news?