In the weeks following the presidential election and preceding his departure from office, Donald Trump managed to do what his enemies, as hard as they tried, could not do in four years: He thoroughly disgraced, discredited and marginalized himself.
By persisting in challenging the election, and then inciting a riot, and thus assaulting American liberal democracy itself, which no president has ever done, Trump destroyed his own legacy.
Whether that means he is finished politically no one can know. But he has surely sealed his fate with the historians. The last days will overshadow everything else, and the Never Trumpers — Republicans who said “I like many of his policies and some of his appointments, but the man is an authoritarian nutcase” — will be vindicated.
But, is it possible to separate Donald Trump from the movement he led, the instincts and impulses he expressed, the yearnings of the people he both inspired and exploited — the “deplorables” and their many silent kin?
The bumper sticker credo of Trumpism can be summarized in four slogan-like notions:
— America first.
— Bring back manufacturing.
— Represent rural and flyover America.
— Disturb, if you cannot dismantle, the elites and their norms of governance and political engagement.
Is there any good in any of that? Anything worth keeping? Or is it all half-baked crankery, or worse?