“Trumpism Without Trump” Is a Dead End—Until It’s Not

Does this look like the kind of guy who can pull off a Trump impersonation?Dan Herrick via ZUMA

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National Review editor Rich Lowry explains how Trumpists have turned on Ed Gillespie so fast it’s a wonder they didn’t suffer whiplash:

As of last week, Gillespie looked to be gaining on Ralph Northam fast (I thought he had a good chance to win). Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the self-declared keeper of the Trumpist flame, believed Gillespie had cracked the code by fashioning a “Trumpism without Trump.” He managed, per Bannon, to close the enthusiasm gap “by rallying around the Trump agenda,” and Democrats needed to be “very, very worried.”

At least that was the party line until the race was called soon after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Then, Gillespie became an establishment tool who had betrayed Trumpism and the president. A Bannon spokesman blasted Gillespie for allegedly having no message and being inauthentic, which is quite the charge coming from people who will change what they are saying on a dime, depending on the imperatives of the political spin of the hour.

Lowry believes that there’s really no such thing as “Trumpism without Trump.” I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s certainly true that, at the very least, it requires a blowhard candidate in the Trump mold. A milquetoasty guy like Gillespie had no chance of pulling it off and probably shouldn’t have tried.

Beyond that, “Trumpism,” such as it is, is mostly just a garden variety conservative agenda with a border wall tacked on. Trump’s extreme popularity with his base isn’t really about taxes or abortion or Obamacare, it’s about his willingness to rabidly attack everyone and everything they hate. As Lowry suggests, this is not really something that can define an entire party. There just aren’t enough people who are willing to go down that road, and even fewer who can pull it off.

However, there are some, and Trump might bring more of them out of the woodwork. After getting blindsided by Trump, Republicans should keep a very sharp lookout for these pestilences. Believe it or not, there are worse things than Donald Trump.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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