I watched the throng outside the historic, and somehow redundant-feeling, Trump Arraignment in Palm Beach today.
It was even smaller than the one outside his first indictment. I expect the turnout for the third and fourth will be tinier still.
They were a sparse crowd of miserable-looking people, sweating profusely in the Florida sun; a newscaster said the heat index was over a hundred degrees. Almost all were white. Almost all were middle aged. I don’t think many came from Florida, but that’s just a guess: I didn’t see any suntans, just pasty skin going pink as the proceedings wore on. Few were dressed for the weather. One particularly uncomfortable-looking gentleman was wearing the trousers to one suit and the jacket to a different one. I saw one gentleman stumbling around with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag a great deal taller than he was. One woman in a pink sun dress fanned herself with a small American flag while leaning on the pole of a larger one. Somebody waved a hand lettered sign that said “USA [illegible] CUBA.” Nobody looked energetic or even angry; they just milled around.
At one point, a woman with a TRUMP flag draped over her shoulders raised a large olivewood crucifix toward the courthouse, interceding.
If God replied, I didn’t see it.
It was a far cry from the furious crowd on January 6th.
I wondered, for the thousandth time, if it was over.
I heard a handful of Trump’s minor presidential rivals actually daring to say that he’d done a terrible thing within the past 24 hours, and it caught me off guard. Most of the vocal Republicans are still adamant that he’s an innocent victim. Others are conspicuously silent. I know the day will come when they all either turn on him or pretend he doesn’t exist, but I thought for a moment, “it could be today.”
I saw that Mike Pence, who stood lovingly by his man even when the ex-president stirred up a riot to have him hanged in front of the Capitol, say that he couldn’t defend the allegations of the indictment, and I thought it again: “It could be today.”
The day will come when everyone abandons Donald Trump.
I don’t think it’s here yet. At this moment, I expect that he’ll somehow be the 2024 Republican nominee and we’ll be in for a nightmare of a presidential race like the last two. I am not looking forward to that. After 2016, I wouldn’t venture a guess as to how it will turn out. Anything could happen. Whether he wins or not, I think there’s likely to be more violence. His remaining devotees are irrational and well armed.
But there will come a time, however far in the future, when he has no defenders left. His personality cult will collapse.
And then what?
It’s not as though we can bring the dead back to life. The people who died in the botched handling of the COVID pandemic, the people murdered on January 6th, the uptick in abortions under Trump: these things can’t be undone.
It’s not as though those of us who saw through him all along will get an apology. No one who didn’t think we were right is going to tell us we were right. More likely, his acolytes will go on to revere another bully and inform us we’re not true Christians for not revering that one as well. The next one may well be worse than Trump. The next bully might be smart. He might not be a would-be fascist, but a real one. Not four years of ludicrous chaos, but the true end to America’s democracy– a democracy which was never terribly good to begin with ,but is better than that replacement.
The people who got bullied out of parishes or families will never be welcome back. Those who were put off of Christianity entirely by the shameful example of American Christians are not going to return. God will have to meet them somewhere else.
The rich and powerful who got richer and more powerful are going to stay that way. Oh, the most famous will probably end up in jail, but not the majority of his backers.
I don’t know.
I have no idea where we go from here as a nation. I think it’s entirely possible that things could get much better. The reverse is also possible.
I’ll just be glad when it’s finally over.
I think it might be soon.