The World After Trump

Ryan Nehring

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=28w43a_0XfxKIUI00(“Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Like so many Americans, I’ve spent the last four years in an ever-increasing state of disbelief about the occupant of our highest office. A man who once mocked a reporter's disability, bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” and lies like it’s the only way he can draw breath has continued to redefine the social contract we all at least previously pretended to live by.

With just over a week to the election and polls showing an overwhelming likelihood of a Biden victory, the question of what happens after Trump leaves office is more pertinent than ever. Assuming he loses (and I acknowledge, this by no means a foregone conclusion), this will not be as simple as wiping a slate clean. Some of the vilest, most vitriolic parts of American society have been exposed as alive and well, and we can no longer continue to believe they are a fading relic of a time past.

It would be naive to a dangerous extreme to think we won’t have to deal with a new reality in a post-Trump world. You may have witnessed neighbors you once thought benign wearing white supremacist regalia in your neighborhood store, or had family redefining blowouts over Thanksgiving dinner. These experiences and memories will endure long after the final ballots are cast and counted and the time to prepare for that new world is now.

Where will the racists go?

White supremacists and neo-Nazi’s emboldened under a Trump presidency sadly will not simply slink back into the countryside we like to believe they emerged from. The truth is they’ve always been here, in our cities as well as the rural areas, and as we’ve learned; ignoring them did not make them go away.

America cannot unsee what it has seen in these last four years. Racism has had a comeback the likes of which even Hollywood rarely has the audacity to attempt. From systemic and institutional racism, police violence against Black Americans, all the way down to interpersonal racist interactions captured on cell phones, our twisted history of violence around race must be reckoned with openly and honestly in a way we’ve been avoiding since our inception.

The social dynamics will take some time to play out, and could get far worse before (if) they get better. Humiliation, anger, and self-delusion are dangerous states of mind that easily breed violence, and are likely to become commonplace should Trump lose. Americans will need to choose to confront and denounce racism, xenophobia, and misogyny at every turn. Coupled with the emergence of widespread race and equity training, the tools to build a better, more equitable society will be there.

A 52-state solution

Puerto Rico has been a commonwealth territory of the United States for over 100 years. Its residents are U.S. citizens and pay taxes. The District of Columbia pays the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the country. Neither are actual states. Puerto Rico has no electoral votes, and the District of Columbia has no representation in the Senate, while Puerto Rico enjoys 1 non-voting resident commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Collectively they represent 4 million non-represented American citizens; about one and half times the number of people in Chicago. Arguments for statehood for both have been ongoing for years, but appear to be coming to a head as the United States begins to grapple with the shortcomings of its electoral college and its disparities with the popular vote.

It’s been over sixty years since a new state has been added to the union, but a post-Trump consolidation of all U.S. citizens could include finally recognizing statehood for these under-represented Americans.

The Supreme Court

Last night, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed and sworn into the United States Supreme Court. She became the third judge seated to the highest court in the land under President Trump and solidifies a jarring 6–3 conservative lean. The implications for reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, healthcare, and electoral sovereignty are potentially staggering, and a sad coda to the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Discussions about “court-packing” have abounded in recent weeks, and are likely to intensify if Democrats do win the election, and even more so should they flip the Senate at the same time. Debates around term limiting Supreme Court justices have also come much more to the forefront than at any time in our countries history.

It’s entirely possible we see movements to do both. Expanding and term limiting the court are essentially the only weapons left to rebalance the scales in the justice system. Beyond that, legislative options will become much more important as new and bulletproof laws will need to be passed should the Supreme Court strike down reproductive rights, healthcare, or LGBTQIA+ protections.

Donald Trump’s ouster from the Oval Office is by no means a done deal. We all saw how wrong polls could be in 2016, and an invigorated and motivated Republican base could yet again propel him to another win, or at least an outcome close enough to be contested and begin a drawn-out war in the courts. 2020 could look a whole lot like the violent and evil sequel to the 2000 election.

Should Trump lose, however, the time for accountability, healing, and reconciliation for millions of American citizens has to begin immediately. A compulsion towards victory laps and endzone dances will be overwhelming, but unproductive if we wish to begin to repair the damage done in the previous 4 years.

We are at a historical inflection point; we have been faced with some of our worst demons dancing audaciously in our streets and on our screens, daring us to confront or concede to them. The story told in the days, weeks, and months of a post-Trump America will shape our collective futures for decades to come. Let us hope it is one of collective growth.

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