The king is dead; long live the [new] king.*
With today's transfer of power in Washington, DC, Trump isn't dead, but the best hope for the future of America and the world is that his political movement does, in fact, die an ignominious death.
Trump, of course, didn't create Trumpism; like pretty much everything else in his life, he stole it.
When Fred Koch poured his money into the John Birch Society to protest the Supreme Court's Brown v Board decision in 1954, helping fund billboards across America proclaiming that Chief Justice Earl Warren must be impeached, the scar of racism that was etched into our nation at our founding entered a new turning of our political cycles.
Richard Nixon picked up that banner with his 1968 Southern Strategy, and in the 1980s Ronald Reagan burned it into our national soul with policy after policy designed to disenfranchise, deny education or jobs, and keep healthcare, food and housing assistance away from Black people.
Trump was marinated in racial hatred by his father, who was once arrested at a Klan rally, and he spent his young years marking "C" for "Colored" on his dad's rental applications. As president, he turned white supremacy's hatred, horror and brutality into a new official policy, using the tools of government to intentionally inflict as much pain and violence as possible on Hispanic refugees and their children seeking asylum from rape and murder.
Thus, at this very moment, the vile private, for-profit prison industry he poured billions into is still running modern-day concentration camps for non-white refugees, and thousands of children tonight will cry themselves to sleep not knowing if they'll ever again see their parents.
When David Koch ran for President in 1980 on a platform of ending all free public education, giving Social Security to the big banks, banning unions, ending Medicare, and eliminating unemployment insurance, food stamps, and all forms of government assistance for those who'd fallen on hard times, he lost the election but his ideas were quickly picked up by Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party.
Reagan even kicked his campaign off with a speech near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where 3 civil rights workers were brutally murdered in 1964, then a very recent memory. His speech's theme was "States' Rights," code for maintaining legal racial segregation in America for over a century.
As President, Reagan put a man who'd called for the end of the Education Department, Bill Bennett, in charge of that very department; Trump's appointment of anti-public-schools crusader and billionaire Betsy DeVos to the same job was merely an echo of the 1980s policy positions of the party Reagan reinvented.
Bill Bennett would later restate the white supremacist policies of the 1950s in more modern, academic-sounding terms when, in 2006, he said, "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could - if that were your sole purpose - you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down."
When Nancy Pelosi called him on it, he replied, "We've got to have candor and talk about these things while we reject wild hypotheses." Riiiight.
Trump putting Eugene Scalia, a lawyer who spent much of his life helping corporations crush or keep out unions, in charge of the Labor Department, was an echo of Reagan putting Ray Donovan, a businessman with a somewhat less radical past but still no advocate for unions, in the same position.
Trump putting Ryan Zinke in charge of the Interior Department, where he promptly began selling off federal lands for pennies on the dollar to mining and drilling cronies, was just an echo of Reagan appointing James Watt to the same job.
When asked why he'd so quickly despoil public lands, Watt said Reagan hired him to "undo 50 years of bad government" and that "my responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns."
It shouldn't surprise anybody that Trump put a coal lobbyist in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, a military weapons lobbyist in charge of the Pentagon, a disgraced banker known as "The Foreclosure King" in charge of Treasury, and a Verizon lawyer/lobbyist in charge of the FCC. Reagan did largely the same.
He filled the senior ranks of department after department with lobbyists; after all, Saint Ronny told us that government was bad, so why not just take the opportunity to have some fun and make some profit looting the taxpayer's lands, air, water and treasury?
Trumpism, it turns out, isn't all that unique; Trump merely put a brutal and violent face on the putrid near-corpse of Reaganism. But retellings of Reaganism are still very much alive and well - and even revered - in today's Republican Party, particularly among the Donor Class.
Reaganism/Trumpism isn't dead yet.
President Joe Biden brings an opportunity for an American renewal, if he has the courage to stand up to what is still the GOP of Reagan, Bush and Trump.
In that, he's going to need all of our help.
*The saying, in various forms, dates back to 1272, when Henry III died, leaving his throne to crusader Edward I, and has been used for hundreds of years in numerous countries to mark the transfer of royal power.
Originally posted at thomhartmann.medium.com