There are millions of Americans who will never hear Michelle Obama’s words.

As eloquent, as passionate and as accurate as the First Lady was Thursday in New Hampshire, we must face the reality that a large portion of this country–a portion mentally contaminated by the lies of Limbaugh, the filth of Fox and the trash of Trump–didn’t even bother listening to what she had to say. For almost a decade, these Americans have been told by their preferred media entities that the First Lady is nothing more than an uppity black woman who got into college due to quotas, a woman doesn’t even deserve to be called a lady, much less First Lady.

Think about how sick that is.

Remember when Janeane Garofalo declared that women who support the Republican Party suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome? When one thinks of the right-wing women who still plan to vote for Trump after all that has been exposed about him, how can one construe Garofalo’s remarks as anything other than a fact?

There are millions of right-wing women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace…who were catcalled and objectified for their looks…who were groped and forcibly kissed…who were discriminated against on the job…who will still enthusiastically back Trump. They look at a pervert–the same sort of pervert who put them through hell in the workplace–and see a leader.

There’s nothing one can say to them. It is Stockholm Syndrome. They won’t snap out of it…but what about the rest of us?

What will it say to our daughters if Trump is politically rewarded for his behavior on November 8 (something that is still not beyond the realm of possibility, no matter how profoundly eccentric the Trump campaign has become)? What message will they take from such a result?

The day before Michelle Obama’s speech, I had a discussion with a friend who thinks that a Trump victory will constitute, on some level, a political form of domestic violence, that the men who are backing Trump want to symbolically treat Clinton the way abusers treat their wives and girlfriends. If that theory is true, what does that say about our country? How much progress have we made, really?

I’m not surprised in the least that so many Americans feel election anxiety. Even if Trump loses, it says something vulgar about America in 2016 that this would-be despot made it as far as he did.

Remember what Rebecca Traister noted Friday night on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher: even if Trump loses, a kinder, gentler version of Trump could come along in four years, embracing the same nonsense policies, but speaking about those policies in a way that makes too many Americans feel warm and fuzzy. Trumpism could be alive and well in the 2020s, finding a home in a more politically attractive host body.

Speaking of the 2020s, it certainly would be nice to see Michelle Obama run for President in the next decade…but consider this: solely because she is a black woman, Fox and the alt-right would go after her even more aggressively than they went after either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton–and a significant portion of the country would agree with every slur and sick slogan made against her. That is the dark legacy of Trumpism. That is the virus that sickens the body of our democracy.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.