A few weeks back, progressive Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) attempted to hit the brakes on impeachment talk in Democratic circles, suggesting that such chatter was far too premature. The odds of Trump being impeached and removed from office remain low: the chances of Republicans in the House and Senate holding Trump fully accountable over his Russiagate recklessness are about as good as my chances of getting married to Jennifer Lawrence, and even if the Legislative Branch changes hands in the 2018 midterms, it’s hard to see Democrats rushing to impeach Trump, due to the belief that Trump remaining in office would energize Democratic-leaning voters to turn out in force in 2020 in a way that, say, President Mike Pence wouldn’t. (Democrats would have been justified in attempting to impeach President George W. Bush in 2007 for his chicanery in steering the US into Iraq; it’s not too far-fetched to think that Democrats decided not to do so, in part or in whole, because they figured the sight of Bush continuing to contaminate the White House would ensure that the Democratic base would be, shall we say, fired up and ready to go on November 4, 2008.)
Whether Trump’s term ends in impeachment or a re-election defeat, the damage he has inflicted upon the American psyche will remain with us for decades to come. Just as the scars of the Nixon and Reagan years have never really healed, so too will the injuries inflicted upon the populace by the 45th President.
Last Friday was the first anniversary of Trump’s horrific speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Think, for a moment, about the voters who swallowed every lie in that speech whole, who took Trump at this worthless word, who believed that he was going to make America great again–and who victimized this country with their votes on November 8, 2016.
Even if Trump goes away via impeachment or a re-election loss, these voters will not go away, nor will the so-called cultural anxiety that led them to cast their vote for the Donald. Of course, there is real cultural anxiety out there–the cultural anxiety felt by the targets of Trump’s tirades.
The young American Muslim girl who just wants to walk to school without being harassed by someone who hates her hijab because Trump told them to will continue to have real cultural anxiety.
The businesswoman being groped by a supervisor who thinks Trump’s treatment of women was not pathetic but copacetic will continue to have real cultural anxiety.
The young black man who fears being pulled over by a cop who views him the way Trump viewed the folks who were wrongfully accused of the Central Park Jogger attack will continue to have real cultural anxiety.
The Mexican-American child whose parent was kicked out of the country by a government that prefers to have those who are brown not stick around will continue to have real cultural anxiety.
Even if Trump were to leave the White House tomorrow, he wouldn’t take the hate he has whipped up over the past several years with him. Trump, arguably more so than any post-Eisenhower Republican President who came before him, has erected a form of psychological Jim Crow in this country, making it virtually impossible for Americans to coexist across the barriers of identity and ideology.
It’s a grotesque guarantee that Trump will do his best to keep this country psychologically segregated once he’s out of office. The rallies will surely continue, designed to harass either a Democratic successor or a Republican successor deemed insufficiently right-wing. The tweeting won’t stop until he’s physically incapable of operating a smartphone. Every effort to move this country forward–on energy, on health care, on guns, on economics–will be assailed by the ex-president and his execrable partisans, aided and abetted by such outfits as the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
Once Trump leaves office, our long national nightmare will not be over. That’s the reason we have to stay woke.