Growing up in Georgia, you learn a lot about the first civil war. My 8th grade history teacher spent months on it. He drew every major battle on the board and made us memorize them.
We started with the First Battle of Bull Run.
It’s sometimes called “the picnic battle,” because civilians and politicians actually rode out to watch. They brought food. They were looking forward to a good ol’ Yankee ass whoopin’. According to Kat Eschner of Smithsonian Magazine, “many Americans believed the conflict would be short and relatively bloodless.” Instead, it ended with five thousand causalities. By then it was pretty clear how wrong everyone had been, and how carelessly they’d acted. Both sides had spent years provoking each other, with no idea what they were getting themselves into.
The lesson here is simple: War never goes the way anyone plans. It doesn’t obey orders. It doesn’t take sides. It doesn’t wait for a declaration. There’s no winners, just a bunch of death and destruction.
Nobody needs another one.
We’re down a path now.
Donald Trump spent the last decade unifying white supremacist groups and militias into one semi-coherent movement. They might look like a bunch of yahoos right now, but they’re organizing.
That’s what January 6 was all about. You can even find interviews with some of these extremists, claiming loud and proud that storming the capitol was “a test run” for bigger things to come. We keep dismissing them, and they keep coming back bigger and stronger.
When are we going to learn?
The legal challenges were a front.
Ladies and gentlemen, we were played again. The last two months of court challenges might’ve looked like a comical farce, but something much darker was brewing beneath all of Giuliani’s theatrics.
Trump knew his legal battles were doomed. He also knew they gave him and his conspiracy mongering lawyers plenty of air time to feed misinformation to the general public. His team eventually got a large crop of Americans, including my own mild mannered relatives, to start questioning the election results at the dinner table.
It’s hard to say if anything is ever really planned in Trump’s head. He often simply makes things up as he goes.
He’s good at it.
Trump has what he wants.
The media spectacle did what it was meant to, which was fueling backroom conversations in every dark corner of the internet. It gave everyone from right wing pundits to militia leaders just the cover story they needed to organize their first attempt at a coup.
It also normalized conspiracy theories.
Now Trump has what he wants, or at least what he thinks he wants. He’s the full-blown leader of an insurgent movement that will stop at nothing to overthrow the government.
Trump would’ve preferred to win the election fair and square, but in his twisted mind this unfolding chaos is just as good. He’s addicted to violent confrontation. He wants to see how far he can take it. He loves the rush. You heard him on television. He’ll never concede.
It’s too late for that.
We’re out of options.
Donald Trump has to go. It’s a choice between bad and worse at this point. Removing him from office will incite violence, but letting him walk out on his own will only condone and encourage it.
This is a rock and hard place scenario. Everything we do now plays into Trump’s narrative. He forced everyone into the role of antagonistic big brother. No matter what comes next, it’s going to be a violent year. It doesn’t sound like our politicians get it yet.
At this point, we might as well evict Trump. We’ll be doing it for history and posterity. We also need to deny him any opportunity to launch a potential comeback. It’s not going to mean a lot in immediate terms. It’s definitely not something that deserves celebration.
It’s a sad necessity.
Big tech did too little, too late.
We’re all cheering Donald Trump’s ban from Facebook and Twitter. We’re treating Google and Apple like heroes for finally kicking hate platforms off their devices, when they really did the bare minimum, and it’s probably too late to even make much of a difference now.
We’ve made it harder to spread hate, but not impossible.
Think about what happens next.
Trump is already talking about building his own social media platform. It’s encouraging that Amazon is pulling the plug on Parler, leaving them without a service provider for now. Something tells me they’re going to persist in coming up with some kind of alternative.
Banning Trump might’ve made a difference a few months ago, when he started touting his conspiracy theories.
Now it’s sadly irrelevant.
We’ve deepened the divide.
There’s another level of fallout to Trump’s disappearance from the internet that we haven’t considered yet.
Soon we’ll have a world where echo chambers don’t even exist on the same platform. Everyone will have their own apps and devices, just like they have their own news channels. Now that Trump’s gone, we’ll have absolutely no idea what he’s thinking or planning.
The next Donald Trump will be more careful. He’ll get better at his dog-whistling and vague double-speak.
Doesn’t that worry you a little?
We can’t keep letting enemies of democracy get so powerful that our only choice is to kick them off the internet.
That’s a losing game.
The problem is bigger than fascism.
Movements like white supremacy and fascism don’t grow in a vacuum. They need a conducive host.
America’s perfect. You’ve got everything you need:
- Vast poverty.
- Systemic inequality.
- Political dysfunction.
- Deep anger.
- Everyday violence.
- Widespread mistrust.
- Overwhelming fear.
Trump and his enablers manipulated these forces, but they didn’t create them. Our politicians did that, funded by the 1 percent. Some of the corporations now condemning Trump are the ones who brought about the very conditions that allowed him to thrive.
It’s easy to sit back and judge Trumpers. Even if we agree the extremists who stormed the capitol should all go to jail for a very long time, ideally with Trump, that’s never going to be the end of it.
It’s just not that simple.
After we get rid of Trump and lock up the extremists, we have to deal with the problems at the root of our country.
There’s only one way to stop Trumpism.
Trumpism will persist long after the man who founded it is gone. Simply put, poor white Americans are going to keep voting for tyrants and causing violence when they don’t get their way. The ones we’re locking up now, they have kids. They’ll grow up thinking their mommies and daddies were heroes standing up to a corrupt government.
See, we need more than righteous condemnation.
We need a better story.
Deterrents never stopped any movement in history, good or bad. The only way to preempt the next Trump is to rethink our economy and our political system. They’re not working for 99 percent of us.
If we don’t fix our bigger problems, all of this will happen again — and sooner than we think. It will get worse next time.
It will lead to war.