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Why the Trump Era Won’t Pass Without Serious Damage to America


Why the Trump Era Won’t Pass Without Serious Damage to America

Neal Gabler

Conservatism has turned itself into a civic religion and columnist Neal Gabler fears the damages wrought in the Trump era will be permanent and lasting.

"Here is hope. Even if 40 percent of Americans have gone to the dark side, there are still so many people who are good and decent and self-sacrificing and who will continue to fight for a just society," writes Neal Gabler. (US Map by Mina De La O/Getty Images)


Linguistically, it would be better to use the term regressive than conservative, as the right-wingers have put the country in reverse and stepped hard on the accelerator–undoing the New Deal whenever and wherever possible.


And this article propagates the same “religious” fervor that the author credits to the Right.

Both ends of the spectrum embrace their cause with religious fervor - as T.S. Eliot said

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Yes, most of what Trump had done can be reversed by future administrations and legislators, but not all of it. For instance, he has set a record pace for appointing federal judges and these serve for life. Short of starting a nuclear war, this will likely be his legacy.


Things have to change or we face collapse. If an insurgency is a religion, then count me as religious. MLK said militarism, racism, and materialism are our demons; I agree.


Egg on my face - I meant W.B. Yeats…


Yes. Trump is the culmination of a multigenerational project. Its architects and engineers hate and fear democracy, while using its forms and language to dismantle it.


First of all, I think the recent election was in some ways a fluke. If not for one man, former head of the FBI James Comey (the man who kept the investigation of Trump’s connection to Russia secret while going full blast in publicizing investigations of Clinton’s e-mails almost up to the day of the election), Hillary Clinton probably would have won a close election. And if not for the massive interference by Russia, which fed social media numerous false news stories that were targeted to Bernie Sanders supporters among others, Clinton probably would have won by a large margin. After being exposed to many false stories many people no doubt actually believed that Hillary Clinton was actually guilty of many crimes and that is reflected in polls that actually showed people trusted Trump more than Clinton which would seem to be mind boggling. So we have the votes but the problem is we no longer have the truth. For many voters the truth has been lost in a flurry of lies. In other words, democracy itself is under attack and the attackers seem to be winning. This may be the legacy of this election. The end of democracy. The liars are overwhelming those who are dedicated to pursuing the truth. And the attacks on the press and higher education continue in an effort to end democracy in the US for good. The fight has to be to save democracy. When facts once again become the fact the best candidates will most likely win and we will no longer be electing an ignorant fascist white supremacist to the highest office in the land.


And well explained in Sinclair Lewis’ (1935)
It Can’t Happen Here. Trump is our Buzz Windrip. We must all be Doremus Jessup…


Neal, I am sad to see you leave this space. Your insights will be missed. This final essay is excellent, sobering, instructive and hope-inspiring. I agree with you that the answers are probably not to be found solely through politics. I also agree that it would be a mistake to try to beat Republicans at their own game. One has to sell one’s soul to win in that game. Trying to live ethically and promoting a sense of community wherever possible is probably our best hope. Good luck to you, Neal, in whatever you do next. Keep the faith!



“Serious damage” is the plan, and always was.


Can you give some examples of Mr. Gabler’s unreasonable “fervor”, presumably on the left, that is comparable the manifestly extremist views of the Republicans? Because, his views expressed in this article would be quite centrist and moderate everywhere else in the developed world - including Canada.


You got it !


As a seventy some white man I am getting damn effing tired of reading every self described pundit telling ME that I am causing this abomination of an administration.
I didn’t end the regulation of banks. It wasn’t me that so stupidly decided that money equals speech or that non human court created personages with a psychotic bent deserved to be heard and influence elections. No, I didn’t vote for a self loving con man or support a right wing liberal in the last election.
Far be it that I should have the effrontery to argue politics with Bill Moyer or call out one of his chosen but I will suggest that his writers shun the low hanging fruit and stop this insane mantra of blaming this situation on all old white men and notice that many of us, through no fault of our own, are also looking for comfortable bridges to die under.


Substitute Democrat, and the sentence is still true:

This new civic religion has already put Republicans in the position of turning every election, every legislative squabble, into Armageddon.

How many of the posters on CD claim the political process is “rigged”

Trump really has very little interest in politics, none in policy, and no respect whatsoever for the political process, which he ridicules at every turn as “rigged.”

Substitute your favorite “antifa” protest

Just watch the people at Trump’s rallies. That is what makes the future so perilous. They are not going to convert.

Count the number of posters here who regularly call for those on the other side to be strung up or otherwise killed…

Let them sow hatred.

There is as much extremism on the Left as on the Right, as much blindness and as much hatred.


There is extremism on both sides but for the most part the extremism on the left is compatible with democracy as the truth remains important. There are no attacks by the left against science and higher education in general. The situation on the right is very different. Truth doesn’t matter. There have even quotes about alternative facts and creating their own reality. Higher education is under attack as is the press.This is not compatible with democracy. It is compatible with fascism. The extremists on the left care about whether or not politicians are truthful while extremists on right don’t (Trump is a good example). Once truth doesn’t matter then there is no basis for criticizing the government. What you have is a fascist government that cranks out propaganda that is accepted by the public. The extreme right is much more of a threat to democracy in the US than is the extreme left. The antifa probably includes a couple of thousand people at most and is not representative of left-wing extremists in the US. They are supposedly anarchists and their protests are often violent and they try to stifle free speech. There are usually several times as many wildly cheering people at any Trump rally than are antifa in the US. The left should not in any way support the antifa even though they are included as being part of the left.


What fake news calls “extremism on the left” were mainstream centrist values a half century ago prior to the start of the destruction of the New Deal.

George Orwell said it best: “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”.

Trump alone could not inflict damage that will take decades to undo, if it can ever be undone. The combination of GOP control of Congress and so many state gubmits combined with POTUS Trump enables bankrupting the US Treasury and stacking the judiciary to overturn legislation for at least a generation.


I don’t agree about your characterization of the “extreme left.” I think this group believes both parties are really the same and act together to fool people into thinking they have a choice. That all wars are fought because the military-industrial complex wants to make profits. And that the mainstream media only puts out propaganda which is based on the requirements of their corporate owners.


Anybody who wasn’t locked in a closet or afflicted with terminal denial syndrome for the past three decades has watched both parties serially fool voters. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Its not the parties’ fault we got Trump, its the fault of 90 plus % of the voters who keep voting for corporate parties.

During the sixties the mainstream media acknowledged the government’s “credibility gap”. One pundit characterized the gap as being wide enough to fly a B-52 through. Within two decades the mainstream media was a willing participant in widening the credibility gap to a width that the entire B-52 fleet could fly through in V formation.


Much of what this article says rings true, but what it doesn’t say may be more revealing. It does not, for example, mention the corrosive role of elitist conservative billionaires and the media channels they control in polarizing and mobilizing “aging white Americans” (which, being one of them, I’d rather call “the religious right”). It also does not mention the gutting of the middle class by a less wealthy and less conservative but much larger band of equally elitist “professionals” (or what Mike Lofgren calls “The Deep State”), via such vehicles as the WTO, NAFTA etc., the perpetual undeclared war that’s been waged continuously since way before 911 supercharged it, and of course the fact that “corporatism” has been not merely allowed to take over our economy, but been massively subsidized by the tax-payers in too many ways to discuss. Finally it does not mention the most corrosive result of that last conscious decision on the part of the ruling class (conservative and progressive alike), which is the fact that (as Trump so cynically pointed out) that the majority of politicians only win if they are nothing but unabashed lackeys for the ruling class. All of this has been going on since well before Trump, who I think we should actually thank for helping to bring these trends to our national attention (somewhat). But I’m afraid the Democrats are going to have to see things become a whole lot worse before they have the courage to look in the mirror and say “we enabled Trump and his ilk to take over”. And that is the REAL PROBLEM.