For those of us who suffer from the chronic disease of optimism, the “news” can be difficult to digest, this is: Donald Trump is on his way to return to the White House. In other words, neither his undeniable criminal behavior, nor his coup attempts, or countless egotistical and vulgar insults have been enough for him to remain in the wastebasket of history to which, we assumed, he was destined.
Just eleven months before the presidential election on the first Tuesday of November 2024, the polls indicating that in four of the five key states Trump would defeat Biden are a forceful reminder of the seriousness of the social phenomenon that the gentleman with the orange toupee represents.
If for a moment we accept that “the people are wise and never make mistakes”, we would have to recognize as valid a good number of the racist, discriminatory, xenophobic, and authoritarian acts with which Mr. Trump has managed to maintain his popularity and in control of the Republican Party.
Of course, there is still a lot that can happen in the next year. The strategic moves of Xi Jinping, the imperial ambition of Vladimir Putin or the foreseeable collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu can change the entire scenario from one moment to the next. In addition, Trump’s advantage has its main support in the apparent weakness of a Joe Biden whose main “depravity” would be his longevity.
In any case, the very fact that Mr. Trump still has a real chance of repeating the surprise of 2016 with an offer of change dangerously similar to the formula of populism that swept Europe almost a century ago, should be a cause for greater concern, if not what frank depression.
Despite his narcissism, brutal ability to communicate, lies, that allow him to manipulate and even seduce broad social groups, much more than being the cause of these disastrous and “interesting” times, Trump himself is a symptom of a mayor problem. Billionaire from deception, fraud, and tax evasion he is a role model of our time. Famous for his scandals, excesses and fascination with villains and autocrats, he is widely admired. Powerful from intimidation, attacks, and the promotion of hate, he is the leader many implore for.
In 2020 Trump lost at the polls and a few weeks later he tried to steal the White House. He also failed, but some of his main flags – racism, violence against minorities and xenophobia – continued to advance. In his country and beyond.
In a few weeks, the internal election processes for Democrats and Republicans will begin. The battles for control of the narratives will be brutal. The first seeks to get President Biden to decide not to seek re-election with the argument that he is “too old”, since he just turned 81 these days. The “argument”, which ignores that almost a quarter of the American population is 60 years old or older, would break the entire strategy of a political class plagued by defects but that in 2020 managed to stop the collapse that Trump represents.
The multiple judicial processes against the virtual Republican candidate could conclude with a “guilty” declaration, which, although they could fuel the fire among the most extremist groups that support him, could significantly reduce his acceptance among that fifth of the citizenship that declares themself as “independents.”
In any case, the very fact that a character like Trump (we could say Milei, Ortega, Maduro, Putin, or so many other neo-populists who today occupy positions of power around the world) continue to remain at the top of the pyramid should be matter of concern.
Of course, when it comes to the United States, the main military power on the planet and supposed global model of democracy and freedom, his case has particular relevance. Above all, for countries and societies where the consequences of possible historical regression may be greater.