It Keeps You Runnin’

Here’s another nightmare scenario to ponder, even if it might seem a bit remote: what if Donald Trump loses the 2016 Presidential election by a margin so close that he could actually come back four years from now?

There’s a reason why the New York Daily News ran that editorial last week expressing hope that Trump would be defeated in a landslide. If the polls suggesting a knockout Clinton victory are somewhat inaccurate, and if Trump only ends up losing by one or two points, there is a non-negligible possibility that this particular monster could crawl back out of the closet in 2020.

History has taught us that you can’t keep a bad man down. Remember November 1962, when a demagogue who had demonized Rep. Helen Gagahan Douglas a dozen years earlier, and who had lost a Presidential election just two years earlier, declared, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”? Look what happened six years later.

In August 1976, a man who thought Medicare was mendacious failed in his effort to unseat a sitting President in a primary. Four years later, that man unseated a sitting President in a general election.

We’d all like to think that Trump has embarrassed himself on such a colossal scale that he could never come back after this contemptible campaign. We’d all like to think that Trump will indeed be just a footnote in history.

However, we might be wrong.

Trump’s supporters aren’t going away after November 8. They may turn out in droves in the 2018 midterm elections, reversing whatever gains Democrats might make in the House and Senate this year. In 2020, they’ll be even more bloodthirsty–and under the right circumstances, Trump could easily make a second run for the Presidency to quench their demented desires.

Remember what Janeane Garofalo observed in April 2009:

I didn‘t know there were so many racists left. I didn‘t know that. As I said, the Republican-conservative movement has now crystallized into the white power movement…Here‘s what the right-wing has—there’s no shortage of the natural resources of ignorance, apathy, hate [and] fear. As long as those things are in the collective conscious and unconscious, the Republicans will have some votes, and Fox News will have some viewers.

Donald Trump and Steve Bannon know this. They will probably be thrilled if Trump loses by a closer margin than expected. Then, they’ll just have to bide their time until they have another chance to combat Clinton.

If there’s an economic slowdown in 2020…if another significant terrorist attack occurs…if right-wing media entities exhibit more skill in taking advantage of America’s most gullible citizens…then Trump could indeed have another shot, assuming he loses closely in ten days. In addition, were he to run again, mainstream-media entities would once again exhibit cowardice by embracing false balance and promoting the idea that Trump’s supporters aren’t really terrified suckers.

Those who would be injured by a Trump administration may breathe a sigh of relief on November 8, thankful that a catastrophe was averted. What if it turns out that the catastrophe was only delayed?

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.