The doer and the thinker, no allowance for the other – Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock

A disinterested observer might conclude that there have been two Donald Trumps. There is the doer, someone who had some significant accomplishments during his Presidency. Some good, some bad; they were concrete actions attached to reality, and generally of a practical, transactional form that didn’t stray outside the normal lanes of American politics. History will be the ultimate judge of those actions.

Then there is the thinker. Herein we find the man who gibbered endlessly on Twitter, who spouted half-truths and outright lies with total conviction, who presented as a carnival barker and pro-wrestling trash talker, whipping up his followers into fervency and frenzy, who engineered a highly unlikely victory in 2016… and who ultimately fell prey to his own hype. Herein was the man of dubious character and thin skin, who engendered a loathing far in excess of what his policies might otherwise have prompted.

Some loved his boorish and in-your-face manner, figuring that the lizards in DC are even worse people who hide behind more genteel veneers while they do unto the populace. And, after a fashion, they’ve got a point. Trump was a giant eye poke to the DC machine, and a deserved one at that. It’s also the case that this low character wasn’t exactly unique in Presidential history. Trump’s outwardly head-and-shoulders worse than his predecessors in this, but that doesn’t exactly make LBJ or Nixon or Jackson or Buchanan or Wilson or FDR moral stalwarts.

If, two or three weeks ago, after exhausting the myriad legal options available to him for challenging the electoral outcome, Trump had admitted defeat, and accepted the loss with ‘the people have spoken and it’s time to move on,’ he’d have retained that “low character” title while remaining within the normal bounds of the Presidency, no matter the histrionics that have accompanied his term. His successes and his failures would have been matters of routine history, after the hot tempers of both his supporters and his detractors cooled with time.

All but for one epic failure.

The lore of the Lord of the Rings begins with the forging of twenty rings. Three for the Elves, seven for the Dwarves, and nine for the Men, all ruled by the One Ring. That One Ring corrupted the others.

Similarly, Trump’s one failure: his refusal to accept his loss, coupled with his continued Big Lie assertion that the election was stolen despite an endless string of failures to make a case compelling enough for the courts to consider, has corrupted the entirety of his Presidency, thanks to a riot at the Capitol that was born of his inflammatory rhetoric and a successful inculcation into his followers of the ‘stolen election’ fantasy.

This failure will corrupt everything he did, including his successes in the Middle East, on tax policy, and on deregulation. It’ll also provoke contrarian responses in the wrong places, including China and Iran. Worst of all, it’ll give the Democrats, whose agenda was already shaping up to be rather abysmal, ample reason to ignore any message of moderation from this past election (and that message was clear. They lost 11 seats in the House, and would have not reached even their 50-50 split in the Senate were it not for Trump’s antics).

Trump’s failure here will resonate forward, with a “guilt-by-association” dismissal of all that the Republicans (even those who rejected Trump’s Big Lie) say and put forth, and all that the 74 million who voted for him (even those who accepted the results without squabble) want from government.

Some are using the Democrats’ plans as an excuse to keep screaming about the election, as if “they’re going to ruin the country” predictions are a legitimate excuse to tear it down. They need to stop.

Unfortunately, many won’t, at least based on my social media feeds. This is the other lasting effect of Trump’s failure: continued polarization and rancor. Lefties and Never-Trumpers are beating their chests and demanding that his supporters bow and scrape, and that those who had a mixed view eat a bushel of crow. Trumpists are Rambo-ing “It’s not over!” at anyone who’ll listen and many who won’t.

All because Trump spun a cocoon of delusion for himself and his cultists, and refused to allow it to be opened to the light of day. The “good rings” he forged, the record he built, and any hope of a legacy that runs counter to the MSM’s and Left’s wild hatred are forever debased by the storming of the Capitol by a passel of his true-believers.

It really didn’t have to be this way. Even after the barricades were breached, he could have salvaged it all. That he chose not to is no surprise, sad to say.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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