As a write this article, the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is playing on my TV in the background. I mention this because Hunter S. Thompson is someone I respect more than any journalist alive today, even in spite of my belief journalists get more hate than they deserve. This was a man who spent his life attacking authoritarians, politicians, and anyone who got in his way — which included basically everyone. This was a man who was always a fighter for the little guy, regardless of who that little guy was. This was a man who only had one mode when it came to the system: rebel.
I mention this because with the Trump era coming to an end, and him being replaced by the “establishment Democrat” Joe Biden, it will be the place of many liberals to re-enter the sleep they were in during the Obama administration. Many, even the most diehard supporters of Barack Obama during the 2008 and 2012 campaign trails, viewed him as a “do nothing President,” and the efforts of John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell do not make that accusation undeserved. However, the Tea Party would have never taken over had the progressive base that gave Barack Obama a landslide victory simply shown up to vote in 2010 and 2014, which they refused to. Hence why when the Tea Party tried to take over during the 2012 Presidential Election, they failed because the people actually interested in defeating them showed up.
Some leftists (a group of which I do not belong to) have used this a reason to vote Trump, using some dumb “the only way out of the storm is through the eye” nonsense. However, to believe this is to misunderstand the answer to one question: Why did progressives think the country was so safe under Obama that they no longer felt they had to vote? I think this is, in large part, because people were actually excited for Barack Obama, while I knew many Biden voters I can only think of one or two who were actually excited for Joe Biden. Keeping the progressive base awake has long been one of the few good things about having Republican Presidents — Ralph Nader even encouraged his supporters in swing states to vote for Bush in 2000 specifically for this reason. When Nader said that, he had watched the same Progressive base he once rallied sleep through eight years of Bill Clinton, even in spite of men like Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole taking over Congress for most of Clinton’s term. With that said, I do think that Biden in the White House is better for the country than Trump in the White House, although that is not saying much.
The fact is, the need for political involvement to defeat authoritarianism, you could even say the need to resist, did not end earlier this month, nor is going to end with the Georgia Runoff Election on 1/5/2021. Many liberals have already gone out to brunch, and will remain on break until either the next Tea Party rises in two years or the next Trump rises in four. Despite my disagreements with Catlin Johnstone’s cynicism regarding the incoming Biden Administration, she is right when she said the defeat of Trump did not mean the defeat of Trumpism. The defeat of Trumpism will not occur until we run every single one of the men who were planning on campaigning as “the next Trump” in 2024 out of politics.
Dan Crenshaw, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Tucker Carlson, and of course Donald Trump Jr. are all 2024 Republican frontrunners who are going to campaign as “the next Trump.” Maybe they won’t use those specific words (although with how big of a cult of personality Trump has, it would not surprise me if they did), but their ideas will be the same, their goals will be the same, and they will appeal to the same people Trump has rallied over the past four years. Three of these people are in Congress, and one has the most popular cable news show on television.
To be honest, I could not imagine the hell of being a popular liberal commentator right now. Could you imagine half the hosts on MSNBC, let alone Pod Save America on Crooked Media or whatever else is hosted by that network, having any career now that Trump is gone? It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in the game, they are all seen as one trick ponies who will outlive their usefulness to the American left starting 1/20/2021. The fact that Rachel Maddow has been doing commentary since the later 1990s, and first got popular back when Air America was still a thing, seems to have disappeared from everyone’s memory — myself included — as she has become known as “the anti-Trump woman on MSNBC.”
This is what worries me the most about the left, as it was the same mistake they made with George W. Bush. For eight straight years, they acted like Bush and Cheney were the only thing wrong with government, and once Obama (and before him, John Kerry) got in everything would be fixed. Of course, that is far from what happened and eight years after Obama took office, he was replaced with George W. Bush on cocaine — okay, on more cocaine. Just as the next Republican President is likely to be Donald Trump mellowed out on pot.
I have no greater fear than the lessons we’ve learned over the past four years, the benefits of radical politics being among the most significant, being forgotten. Obama famously told people to move on from the Bush era in his 2009 inauguration address, which was basically a giant middle finger to everyone who had voted for him. Biden must tell us not to move forward, but to stay in the past, to remember what happened and what we learned, and to never forget who it is that spent the last part of the 2010s wronging us.