When you can no longer tell yourself that all will be OK in the end, and how it can’t possibly get any worse, you confide in the relentless march of time: it must be over soon.
The twenty-second amendment of the United States Constitution means that Monday 20th January 2025 is the latest possible date that Donald Trump must vacate the office of President, even if he ends up serving two consecutive terms.
With the prospect of a Trump presidency lasting into my forties – hell, “The Simpsons” may still be producing new episodes by then – I need to plan for what lies ahead.
When the date of a meeting with North Korea was first announced, I refrained from writing about a post-Trump world because I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, even if I previously said that was something he never needed before [link]. However, after the commemorative coins were minted, Trump cancelled the meeting, then said it was back on, then said “we’ll see,” then attacked “The New York Times” for the umpteen thousandth time, I feel safe that the level of chaos Trump has created around himself is enough to imagine I may, one day, be able to look past it.
I do not expect public discourse, let alone politics, to return to how it was, because people have been emboldened by what Trump has said, either in opposition or in agreement to them. It is all the news has become: racial hatred, sexual assault, cultural wars, identity politics, immigration, democratic processes, the due process of the law, and “alternative facts” – everything is conjecture, everything is debatable, and we all have to live with that, apparently.
What I do know is that everything will find its centre, or equilibrium once more, even if it has to make a new one, as people take stock of where everything has reached. All the rhetoric of “drain the swamp,” and “Make America Great Again” – originally Ronald Reagan’s slogan, without the inclusive “Let’s” – implies that the core of what the United States was has been lost, or destroyed, although you would only talk your own country down in the way Trump has if you were insistent that you were the only person who could fix it.
The only reason I can feel sure of this, apart from hope, is that this situation sounds a bit like what happened to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, as people failed to grasp his concept of “deconstruction,” which he intended to be a continuing re-evaluation of Western values, as done by previous philosophers, and not a destruction of them, with the intent of making your own ones. Derrida had to explain that the notion of there being a “centre” was a functional one, as there had to be a centre that helped to form our understanding. Then again, when all you have is the text, the words, to hand, you have to see them in the sense of how they have been used. For Trump, this is all we have, no matter how badly it is presented, or spelled, on Twitter, in a form that relies on impulsivity, ahead of deliberation, time, and thought.
I hope it is clear that this isn’t a repudiation of the way politics is currently conducted in the United States, but of the way conduct is currently conducted. The lessons that the next President may take from Donald Trump may be to engage with their population in a similar way, or find different ways, but any American who may feel the same as me, a non-American, does not have a President that effectively represents them – we’ll just have to wait and see how long before that changes.