• The Student Lens

Picking up the Pieces: A Post-Trump GOP


In the empty halls of the Andrew W Mellon auditorium, the empty stale rhetoric of the Trump campaign was spewed out at the Republican National Convention (RNC) as it was four years ago. Except this time it was to an audience of none, the tired ‘American first’ speeches echoing through the grand auditorium as the RNC becomes a literal echo chamber. The S.O.S. that was sent out in 2016 was met with silence, no lifeboats deployed. America’s forgotten millions still forgotten. And the positions of the elites who they sought to destroy remain as strong as ever. The RNC was an empty convention for an empty rhetoric.

The so called ‘silent majority’ made their voices heard last time- however It’s unclear whether the voters who showed up in 2016 for Trump will do so this year, polls suggest they won’t, but polls were wrong last time. Will people feel betrayed by the lack of 'swamp draining' or will they buy into the same WWE style trash talk? While my guess isn’t anything to go by, it has to be said that it seems the shock value of Trump has weaned slightly. I no longer feel as enraged as I once did, I just feel tired. A sense of numbness seems to come over the American population as every major network covers any news on the man as if Canada has invaded. The president’s nickname for Joe Biden: ‘sleepy Joe’ might not be as damning as he thinks. America might just want a guy who reminds them of their dying grandpa, more than a man who reminds them of their crazy uncle who ruins family dinners by spouting conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace.

So, what will the GOP look like after Trump leaves office, will it cling to the days where ‘The Donald’ roamed the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or will it try to make you forget about the strange blip in history where a reality tv star was commander in chief. The Republican future favoured by the Trump camp was on full display at the RNC, with rhetoric echoing the sentiments of cold war paranoia, with many Republican speakers asserting the dangers of the ‘radical left’ or ‘far left’. At the RNC, a new dawn did seem to be forged for American conservatism, the silent majority was not only silent, but ‘silenced’. Cancel culture was one of the hot button issues at the convention. The democrats supposedly not only wanting to take away the second amendment, but the first amendment too.

The general feeling of righteous indignation comes from both sides, Democrats feel they’re being oppressed by the Republican establishment and the Republicans feel they’re being oppressed by the Democrat establishment. This new demagoguery that we are seeing across the political landscape is a powerful tool which began its rise on the Trump campaign in 2015 and has now made its way into every facet of American politics. There is nothing more powerful than making a group feel as though they are oppressed, whether it’s true or not.

In recent rallies, Mr Trump suggested that if the election results are not to his liking, he might just ignore them, shows a worrying slip into dictatorial territory for the leader of the free world. If he loses, the following months will be no doubt entertaining, I can almost see the CNN infographic reading: ‘Chaos at the White House’. The media circus around Trump’s departure from office will surely reach levels never before seen on cable news, the word ‘dictator’ will be thrown around by everyone from Wolf Blitzer to your mum.

The GOP will have to build itself a whole new type of party, if Trump really doesn’t leave office. It will have to present itself as more sensible, compared the socialist looneys on the other side. The democrats are moving further to the left, with DNC superstars like AOC and Bernie Sanders. Now unlike the past 50 years of Democrats stagnating in the centre and Republicans moving to the right, maybe the tables will turn. Maybe the Republicans will have a go at being the centrist party.

Who knows, maybe Trump will gracefully leave in a calm and presidential manner, maybe he’ll call in the army to keep Biden out, or maybe he’ll win the next election. But it is hard to ignore that the fire that once burned in the hearts of many Americans, seems not to be burning as strong as it once did. Is the short-lived age of 21st century right-wing populism at its’ end or is it just the beginning? My words are nothing more than that of a foolish spectator, I am not soothsayer, I don’t know what the political landscape of the next ten years will look like. All I know is that the American electorate has a big decision on their hands.

ALFIE MCNICOL

Student at London Screen Academy, studying film. Interested in film and politics.

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