Donald Trump returned to the public eye last night and showed just how much he still controls the Republican Party.
Not even wearing his pants backwards — which Trump looked to be doing — could diminish his grip on the party.
In a speech before the North Carolina Republican Party, Trump engaged in his customary rants against his enemies.
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He called Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg “a beauty” for Trump’s two-year ban on that platform announced just the day before his speech. He insisted that his claims that China deliberately unleashed the coronavirus were true and said that China should pay the world $10 trillion in damages.
But most of all, Trump continued to lie about losing the presidential election, insisting that “our country is being destroyed before our very own eyes,” while praising the faux audit currently underway in Arizona. He insists his loss will “go down as the crime of the century,” although he didn’t specify which one.
But the key point of Trump’s rambling 90 minute soliloquy was his characteristically apocalyptic language and ability to flip reality on its head.
“We’re not going to have a country — if you don’t have election integrity, and if you don’t have strong borders, our country can be run like a dictatorship and that’s what they’d like to do,” Trump said.
“They want to silence you. They want to silence your voice. Remember, I’m not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I’m the one that’s trying to save it.”
Of course, it was Trump that used that presidency to reward his friends and punish his enemies in a way that would make any tin-pot dictator proud. Trump wanted to turn the Justice Department into a kind of Mafia law firm meant to protect his family.
But Trump’s supporters don’t care about that. They care about ensuring they can preserve their view of America as a white, straight, conservative Christian nation. The fact that most Americans disagree with that view only enflames them.
Having their rights protected isn’t good enough. They want to strip others of their rights in order that views triumph. Hence the Republicans’ voter suppression efforts throughout the nation and the anti-trans measures meant to reassure conservatives that they can legislate LGBTQ people out of existence.
What Trump did not mention in his address is his delusional belief that he will be reinstated as president in August. Apparently, Trump cronies as unmoored from reality as the ex-president think that somehow the election will be overturned and Joe Biden will leave the White House so Trump can return to it.
At this point, though, Trump is almost beside the point. Republicans fret that the president is a drag on their midterm election chances, but they don’t seem to recognize that their party’s base now consists of people who want what Trump has been serving up.
Republicans may not need Trump, but they need Trumpism. That’s the future the party has made its bet on.
Meanwhile, the best part of Trump’s return to public was the speculation about his pants.
Fact-checking site Snopes, insists that Trump was wearing his pants the right way. As Trump might say, many people are saying otherwise.