Today Donald Trump “finished” the “Birther Movement.” He only devoted about 45 seconds to doing so, despite having obsessed over it for years, riding its wave to prominence among right wing fringe groups. But hey, he’s a busy man these days.
“Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” he said ending the speech.
The Donald seemed annoyed—annoyed that the “lamestream media” was forcing him to address such an irrelevant non-issue at such an important time in history.
To be sure, pushing birther conspiracies was one of the biggest contributions to politics he’d made before entering the 2016 race. Today’s announcement was a massive flip-flop in a giant sea of absurdity, inconsistency and outright lies. There’s so much crazy, it’s impossible to sift through.
Donald Trump has been a Republican and a Democrat. More importantly, he’s been a batshit crazy conspiracy theorist that thinks the country has been taken over by a jihadist and a presidential candidate for a mainstream political party.
Donald Trump won the nomination because he promised change. He represented not just an alternative to Hillary Clinton, but an alternative to corrupt career politicians and the dominance of big money special interest groups and everything that’s been holding back the working man.
He’s already walked back his mass deportation plans, adopting a more liberal approach than many mainstream Republicans. And considering that building a 30-ft (and counting) wall across the entire Southern border is basically impossible (and Mexican leaders keep saying there’s no way they’ll pay for it), it’s seems clear that “making America great again” has some flexibility to it.
At some point — after he compromises the “alt right” revolution a few more times, president or not — some contingency of his base is going to turn against him. Then what? What happens when the people steering the Trump movement don’t have to appeal to mainstream voters and don’t care about an election?
His campaign has emboldened a lot of xenophobic, racist, potentially violent groups (see: former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke running for Senate) but it’s also pulled a lot of otherwise uninterested people into the system. People that used to spread their ideas via email forwards are now interviewed by the dozen on national cable news networks.
We all know that Trump says offensive, inflammatory things. But even he’s not as bad as many of the people in his crowds. What will those people do after they’ve tasted some level of media legitimacy and are without a golden-haired god to rally around?
Their guy is on the national stage for once; their beliefs have never been more validated. What will they do when they’ve lost all sense of real political power?
We may very well see a shift in what the broader Republican Party looks like and stands for, like we did with the Tea Party movement. I’m worried, though, that we’ll see stronger, more violent right wing conspiracy groups outside of that.
Two terms of Obama have given us unprecedented growth in militia and “sovereign citizen” groups, including armed stand-offs with federal authorities in Nevada and Oregon. Four to eight years of Hillary Clinton is only going to continue this trend.
In today’s world, only those with real power need be concerned with ideology. The rest of us are divided primarily not by ideas necessarily, but by realities (or lack thereof).
We can’t have dialogue about how to overcome our problems because we don’t even exist in the same world.
I don’t know how to fix political polarization and this “post-factual democracy” we live in, but I am deeply concerned about what it’s going to lead to. Trump and all those who have stoked rabid conspiratorial paranoia on the right for decades have no idea what they’ve created.