Trump 2024 and the Progressive

Trump 2024 is an initial step to desensitize and normalize violence.  As progressives we would benefit from a more in-depth understanding why that is and what we can do about it.

Language and imagination imbue a touch of infinity into all of us, stifled only by the reality of being an advanced linguistic primate. Humans are context-driven beings; language and communication always have and will always be our defining strength. But that advantage comes bound to weakness, as language can influence us beyond the immediate moment.

Herein lies our problem. Trump 2024 isn’t about one specific plan of action. It’s intentionally ambiguous because his intent has nothing to do with making a statement. It has everything to do with building a foundation for when Donald Trump confronts the limits of his power whether it’s through impeachment or the elections of 2020 or 2024.

Trump 2024 as a statement is an attempt to create a mental anchor. Anchoring an idea plays on our subconscious bias where the first piece of information we hear on a subject dominates our future decision-making processes [1]. Trump 2024 is all about anchoring the idea of Donald Trump as the persistent future leader among his core supporters.

So what messages is Trump 2024 conveying without explicitly giving them words? One is the assumption of a Trump victory in 2020. An odd strategy as polls from a variety of perspectives continue to show a decline in Trump’s popularity [2][3][4][5]. If losing is a possibility for Trump then progressives should assume alternative strategies exist to maintain a grasp on power, even if that strategy is to create chaos.  Alternatively, he may be hoping to insulate himself from the fallout of impeachment. 

Setting his core base up for an assumed victory isn’t a strategy to increase turnout and it’s looking even less likely given his recent Ukraine scandal. What Trump may be doing is setting his core base up for a very bitter defeat. A defeat that he will blame on the corrupt media, corrupt democrats, foreign interference, immigrants, and disloyal republicans among others. Are you noticing a trend? Of course, there is one thing we know Trump will not blame is a loss on —himself.

Anger and fear are defining aspects of the ideologies fueling Trump’s more radical base. Consistently reinforcing a 2024 position of leadership is one pathway to reaching a critical mass of anger within them. Progressives should consider what options will be available to us if Trump is impeached or loses the election and refuses to vacate the office. How might his core supporter’s anger manifest into action? What is our visionary message to bring people back into the fold after the schism?

Another possible message within Trump 2024 is to gain support for a third term. One that signifies a genuine shift in American governance and elevates Trump from a sociopathic conman to a genuine authoritarian. Extended presidential terms are constitutionally prohibited via the 22nd amendment which limited Presidents to two terms with an additional two-year window in the case of succession.

Eliciting a third term is a dangerous tactic and one that Trump is using deliberately. By placing the concept of a guaranteed 2020 victory into the consciousness of his core base, he is attempting to lay the foundation for multiple potentials.

The most obvious is that he’s implanting the idea that a third presidential term would be both acceptable and normal. This is incredibly dangerous. Trump’s stable base is a fervent mix of people who are convinced that the majority of news, science, and perspective they hear is false. The only truth stems from Trump himself. This ethos is fueled by a steady stream of cash from Trump’s wealthy conservative base.

It’s common knowledge that formal declaration for a third presidential term would create a crisis in the United States beyond anything presently experienced. In reality, we’re already here. Donald Trump’s strategy is death by a thousand cuts. If Trump and his team can deliver this message over the next five years consistently, we may have to deal with a violent revolution. Such an event would fully recognize Trump’s authoritarian desires.

I don’t invoke the possibility of violence lightly, but what alternatives would a fervent but comparative minority base demanding a third term for Donald Trump resort to? Data from the FBI demonstrates an increase in hate crimes since Trump’s election [6], and since a third term would be illegal, there is no democratic compromise.

The complacency of the modern Republican party and Trump’s recent history of violence enticing rhetoric and criminality also contribute to this theme. Today we have a rare historical moment where our foresight is just as great as our hindsight. I’m referring to the Republican party’s wholesale backing of Trump’s increasingly cruel and divisive policies.

Trump’s election was a gift to the wealthy elites presently ruling the United States. It’s one thing to continue the wealthy’s perpetual war on the middle and lower socioeconomic classes. It’s an entirely different thing to blindly support initiatives that are directly contributing to a planet-wide climate crisis. The cowardice of the modern Republican party is astounding. 

Republicans have also supported the weakening of our elections through inaction on security measures and action to suppress citizen voices locally. South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are moving to cancel Republican primary contests to avoid Trump facing exposure by other, more sensible Republicans. 

History will undoubtedly look at the Republican party of today with great disdain, providing a model for future generations to truly understand the meaning of weak leadership. What is not certain is how significant the damage will be when all is said and done.

Trump 2024 is violence wrapped in the guise of politics, but it’s not that different than anything else he has been saying. Calling asylum seekers an invasion, referring to other nations as “shit-hole countries,” framing the refugees from the recently devastated Bahamas as “gang members, drug dealers, and very bad people” [7].

The underlying theme is the same — using language to lay a foundation for anger, fear, and the potential for violence. As progressives, we cannot afford to be blind to the realities that we face. This administration recognizes it’s consistently weakening position among the majority of the American populace. Its only hope for survival is to create a divide between its core base and the rest of America. Division so significant that it holds the potential to become a catalyst for a violent attempt at revolution.

It’s an idea that’s doomed to fail, one but that we would be foolish to ignore. Progressives believe in a pluralistic vision of the future, but if we’re going to create genuine transformation, we’re going to need to explore ways to break the spell entrancing Trump’s base. Failing that we should prepare for Trump’s last-ditch effort to secure his power here in the U.S. We owe it to ourselves and our movement.

Outreach and Effort

So how do we frame efforts to mitigate the risk of violence from hardcore Trump supporters while simultaneously keeping pathways open for reintegration into society under progressive reconstruction?

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War provides universal insight on an initial strategic understanding. Progressives would be wise to apply the logic of not pressing a desperate foe too hard, giving them instead a pathway to retreat. It is only a matter of time before Trump’s most fervent supporters recognize the futile position they have placed themselves in. Our wisest course of action is to provide a path of retreat that is easy, accessible, and free of humiliation. It may not be ideal, but our objective is to transform society not to punish people for momentary ignorance. 

Progressives need a proactive approach to bridge-building with a base that holds a seemingly unwavering belief in Donald Trump. The lies, blatant corruption, policies directly damaging U.S. industries, and a strategy that focuses on concentrating wealth in the hands of the wealthiest do nothing to dissuade their passion for Trump’s America. Studies have shown that their driving motivator is not economics, but rather a loss of social status [8]. It’s not that they fear any one aspect such as immigration, economics, or guns. Instead, that the world is changing and their lifestyles don’t fit particularly well in the new paradigm of human thinking and being.

Progressives can use this knowledge to lay the foundation for a reintegration program that focuses on addressing these underlying concerns. Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal [9] already demonstrates key pathways towards a tangible solution—job training, wage guarantees, socialized ownership of energy production and resources, housing assistance, and more. The plan lays the practical foundation for how we encourage buy-in through economic and social benefits and is a model that can be exported to alternative industry verticals as the need arises.

But economic buy-in isn’t enough. Like many of us, Trump supporters have inherent psychological biases from decades of propaganda that have formed their worldview. The data concludes that Trump’s base is more likely to support authoritarian figures, believe in a social hierarchy where a prerequisite to personal elevation is the diminishment of another, and have higher degrees of racial and religious prejudice due to lack of exposure to individuals outside of their immediate circle [10]. To break these biases we’re going to need to include integrative social training within the economic approach.

Pulling from the vision of job training and guarantees described in the Green New Deal, the United States could take an integrative approach to workforce development.  The training can assume the dual role of professional experience and cultural integration. Connecting U.S. citizens from various ethnicities, cultures, and locations together.  Progressives recognize that by reducing fear of the unknown, by making the human to human connection, we can dramatically decrease hate and fear within our country.

Because the political duopoly has poisoned the minds of multiple generations of Americans our pathways forward must be apolitical. The policies must speak for themselves. This pathway requires progressives to do a lot of listening while exercising restraint. A united path forward to healing cannot be structured under the guise of one party saving another. It will not work. To many Trump supporters, “Liberals” are a supernatural enemy despite no first-hand experiences with the evil they seek to eliminate. It will be frustrating, but keep in mind that we cannot defeat hatred with more hate.

Trump 2024 is a subversive call to violence lost in a sea of confusing and anxiety-inducing propaganda. But Donald Trump is not permanent, and neither is his spotlight. The American people will have to come to terms with our circumstances sooner than later. Progressives find themselves in a unique position to transcend political boundaries and create and implement solutions that invest in our confused and disenfranchised. 

Progressives recognize that every human can change the direction of their lives no matter how vile and low they have become given the appropriate resources and education. The task of reintegration isn’t particularly exciting or motivating, but it doesn’t change the fact that progressives are the best suited to the job. Being progressive isn’t a political affiliation, it’s a way of thinking about change, and that gives us a distinct advantage to begin the work of building a united front.  

[1] Anchoring Wikipedia

[2] New polls: Trump’s approval rating slipping Hardball MSNBC

[3] Trump’s one good 2020 poll just turned against him Washington Post 

[4] Trump is trying to discredit recent polls because he’s losing in nearly all of them by Sean Collins Vox 

[5] 5 Democratic contenders lead Trump in head-to-head matchups: POLL by Allison De Jong ABC NEWS 

[6] Hate crimes rose the day after Trump was elected, FBI data show by Aaron Williams Washington Post

[7] Trump Defends Keeping Bahamian Hurricane Victims Out of US: Some are ‘Gang Members,’ ‘Drug Dealers,’ and ‘Very Bad People’ by Ken Meyer Mediaite

[8] Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump | PRRI/The Atlantic Report by Daniel Cox, Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D.,

[9] The Green New Deal by Bernie Sanders

[10] Pettigrew, Thomas F.. “Social Psychological Perspectives on Trump Supporters.” Journal of Social and Political Psychology [Online], 5.1 (2017): 107-116. Web. 24 Sep. 2019 

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