13 November 2020

How Trump Keeps Escalating His Loyalty Test for Republicans - and the question the rest of us are left with

When she got onto the plane, she looked dazed. I thought she might hate flying. Shortly after take off she put her head on the tray and appeared to doze. When she lifted her head she looked really distraught. I asked how she was.

She was about 20. And she told me a story for which I had no good response. She'd met a guy and traveled out from San Diego to be with him. They had a wild and wonderful weekend. And then - without telling her what he was doing - he drives up to the entrance of a pharmacy, pulls out a gun, and runs in to hold the place up. By the time it is over, they are both on the ground in handcuffs and by the time she got out on bail (the day she got on our plane), she was facing a court date that could leave her in prison for years. She was still in disbelief and wept as she told me this story. I was shocked just listening to her and couldn't imagine how full of fear, confusion, and disbelief she must feel. I don't know what happened but hope that a good lawyer was able to establish that she was another victim of this guy and not an accomplice.

Which brings me to Republicans.

When Trump ran in 2016, Republicans got kind of excited about a candidate who spoke his mind. Suddenly, tired of the pressure to be politically correct, here was someone who gave them license to call Mexicans criminals, reject the idea that anyone captured by the enemy and held in prison was a war hero, and cheer for the guy who bragged about the size of his dick in a presidential debate. Here was a billionaire celebrity so shameless that he made them feel like his equal. Maybe even a little superior.

The loyalty tests have escalated. Very quickly Republicans had to choose between believing news reports that the president was lying or the president himself. By 2020, they had to choose between believing QAnon conspiracy theories and actual scientists.

And now? Now, Republicans are still supporting their guy as he attempts a coup. He and his administration have no plans to peacefully or willingly transfer power and they are ignoring the results of a fair election.

What began as the thrill of thumbing their noses at politically correct stances from self-righteous liberals has become the frisson of overthrowing the political system itself. What I still don't know is what percentage of Republicans love the idea of doing away with elections that give an unfair advantage to the majority and what percentage are wondering who this guy is to have decided that his feelings are more important than the will of 78 million Americans. That is, what percentage are wondering how it has escalated to this and what percentage are thrilled at the prospect of a shootout.

Because we have bigger problems than Trump if 72 million Americans have grown tired of a constitutional democracy. If that's the case, we're the ones who've found ourselves lying in the ground in handcuffs wondering how the guy we've been driving around with turns out not to have been a conservative at all but is actually a fascist.

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