Friday, September 22, 2023

A “ first family ” that distorted America

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As Donald Trump prepared to deliver his infamous speech during last week’s ‘March to Save America’, his son – Donald Jr – shot video for ages. He captured a festive first family – President Ivanka Trump, Eric and Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle – swinging on Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” shortly before the Capitol Hill breach.

The video was for “all the super patriots who are fed up with bullshit,” Don Jr. said. It showed Mr. Trump and his self-proclaimed first daughter transfixed by footage of the waiting crowd. It ended with Ms Guilfoyle calling on the gatherers to “do the right thing – fight!”

Ninety minutes later, that’s what happened. Unlike the sacking of Capitol Hill by the British military in 1814 – the only other time Congress has been overwhelmed – this desecration was prompted by instigation by the US President. He was also encouraged by his family. His two adult sons spoke before him. Everyone has sworn to overthrow any Republican who voted against the cancellation of the US presidential election. Donald Jr.’s speech was so controversial and full of profanity that it was interrupted by Fox News – but only after he said, “It’s not their Republican Party anymore. It’s Donald Trump’s Republican Party!

The danger is that it becomes the party of the Trump dynasty. Many constitutional scholars celebrated that 10 Republicans voted to impeach Mr. Trump on Wednesday, 10 more than he did for his starter Accused 13 months ago. They made up less than 5 percent of the caucus. In fact, more Republicans would have voted to impeach Mr. Trump if they had not been intimidated by death threats. This is not how an institutional party behaves. It is the mark of a cult. Any cult focuses on its leader and family – not its ideas, which can be whimsically changed.

The walkers who changed America’s history last week have supported a number of motley causes. They ranged from white supremacist and Christian fundamentalist, to QAnon and “America First” Republicans. What united them is loyalty to the Trump brand. Such devotion is a formidable weapon. If the rally had taken place a day before the Trump presidency, Mike Pence, the vice president, surely would have spoken as well. Because of his role in overseeing voter certification, Mr. Pence had become an enemy overnight. Some of the intruders chanted “hang Pence” as they raided the Capitol building. Executioner’s scaffolding has been erected outside. There is no one as vulnerable as an apostate.

The only people Mr. Trump and his base can trust are his family. Even the servile devotees, like Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey, William Barr, former Attorney General, and Mr. Pence in particular, can turn on you. Luckily for Mr. Trump, his children are all keen to carry the torch. Lara Trump, her stepdaughter, is urged to run for the North Carolina Senate in 2022. Don Jr. is said to be considering a presidential election in 2024 if his father drops out – or is unable to do so for health reasons or legal difficulties. Ivanka Trump does little to disguise her ambition to run for either governor of Florida or sit in the Florida Senate in 2022. She and her husband, Jared Kushner, recently purchased a $ 30 million plot on Indian Creek Island in Florida, also known as the “billionaire’s bunker.”

Following the President change of residence in 2019, most of the Trump family are now leaving New York, where they are collective personae non gratae. Tiffany, the youngest daughter, and Don Jr, are the latest to announce that they are moving their official residences to Florida. They are never leaving America. Not only does Florida host the White House in exile in Mar-a-Lago, it is also the emerging center of Trumpian conservatism. It provides a framework in which you can avoid masks and simulate social distancing. It’s the kind of state where you can rush over to Gloria before you stir up the crowds.

As the Trump family moves south, much of the country will celebrate the end of a uniquely toxic era in American culture. They must be careful. Over the next five days, Mr. Trump may very well forgive himself and his family for crimes they may or may not have committed. Alas, there is no law against dynastic cults. The assets will be down but they are by no means released.


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