The results of the midterm elections in the United States are mostly in, although one senate race has yet to be decided. However, the Democrats are happy because, although they lost the House of Representatives, it was by a narrow margin. The Senate is still in the Democrats’ hands. The red wave never materialized and there was a demonstration that Trump’s influence in the political arena has diminished. Many of the candidates that he promoted during the election appear to have been defeated.
So, does this mean that he may have permanently lost his touch and the Trumpian philosophy will not play such a large role in future elections? I think that, in many cases, it was simply that Trump decided to back candidates whose main attribute was that they were true believers of all of Trump’s basic conspiracy theories, and of Trump himself. Yet they demonstrated limited knowledge of politics and government, and they had limited political experience. In other words, it wasn’t so much Trump’s philosophy that was being rejected or even his outrageous personality, but rather the competency of many of the individual candidates.
There were exceptions to this pattern. J. D. Vance, the writer of “Hillbilly Elegy” won the race for Senator of Ohio against Congressman Tim Ryan who had some real political experience and who could hardly be labeled a progressive. And, of course, then there is Florida, which is in a category by itself. No other state demonstrated such a marked turn to the right in this election cycle than Florida.
Was this because of the continued direct influence of Trump and his personality? I doubt it. Rather it was because the Trumpian philosophy and the Trumpian personality has taken on a life of its own. The dominant Trumpian personality in Florida is not Trump, but rather governor Ron DeSantis who just got reelected and whose influence in the Republican party extends far beyond Florida. Which is why he is being seriously considered as the Republican candidate for president in 2024 in Florida instead of Trump. The point is that people may be getting tired of Trump, but they are not getting tired of the right-wing authoritarian populism that Trump has brought into the Republican party. DeSantis is proof that the Trumpian philosophy has taken on a life of its own independent of Trump himself. And this probably means that because it can be transferred from Republican leader to Republican leader, it will continue to be a major force in the Republican party and in the United States in general.
So, what is it that has proven so compelling, one might say, so addicting about the Trumpian philosophy. Perhaps it is not the philosophy itself, but the emotional underlay that makes it so attractive to so many people. The fact is that, as has been discussed many times in this column, the fundamental problem for people living in modern technological society is that the technology has succeeded all too well in making life frictionless for comfort and in making life mediated for purposes of safety. And this has resulted in human life becoming dangerously numb. To a great extent, life has become a living death for many people.
Someone like Trump and a way of thinking like that of Trump with all of its unpredictable accusations and all of its wild conspiracy theories is just what many people need today to shock them out of their numbness, to pull them out of their living death. Denying the legitimacy of the elections is a perfect example of a friction generator. It means endless grievances with the government for accepting the results of what the Trumpsters perceive as a potentially flawed vote. Even though in the midterm elections there have been no major recounts that I am aware of, there were certainly a lot of private Republican poll watchers to make sure there were no dirty tricks on the part of the Democrats.
So, what’s going to happen to the Republicans over the next two years now that they are in control of the House? On one level, it may be almost a better situation for them than if the red wave had succeeded. The way things are now, they have just enough power to follow through with investigations and impeachments regarding any suspicions they may have of Democratic conspiracies, yet not so much power that they can crush the Democrats’ opportunities for actually trying to do something really nefarious before they actually can. We can expect not only gridlock but endless investigations of things the Democrats have done in the past, and investigations of things the President, the President’s family, the President’s cabinet and the Democratic members of the House and the Senate are perceived to be conspiring to do in the present. Also, there will probably be attempts to impeach the President and some members of his Cabinet. The political temperature is about to go up considerably after the Republicans take over the House.