During the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, there were some irrefutable facts laid bare about the dangerous bigotry and hate residing in pockets of our nation and Trump’s role in legitimizing and mobilizing it. So, even though the Senate failed to find him guilty, there is now an established record of Trump courting and stoking the flames of hate and racism throughout this country.
According to The Washington Post’s national political columnist EJ Dionne, this record matters as it will inevitably shape our future; not just for those members of the GOP who were complicit in Trump’s behavior, but for all of us as we begin to look back at the Trump years from the rearview mirror.
“We don’t always think that much about history but I think history matters and how we look back matters. Every political era is in part the product of what came before” –EJ Dionne, The Washington Post
Listen: Longtime national political columnist EJ Dionne on how Trump era aftermath will affect GOP politics and the nation for years to come
EJ Dionne is The Washington Post’s national political columnist and author of “Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country.” He recently wrote a column titled “The beginning of the end of Trumpism.” In discussing the inclination to forge ahead into the future, Dionne notes that it’s important to consider how the past four years will impact our collective future as a nation. “We don’t always think that much about history, but I think history matters and how we look back matters. Every political era is in part the product of what came before,” he says. This point is especially important as members of the GOP who were Trump loyalists will have to chart a path forward now that Trump himself is no longer in office. Dionne points out the philosophical and political contortions performed by Senator Mitch McConnell on this particular front during the impeachment trial. “He voted against impeachment and then gave a speech that could’ve been written by the impeachment managers… I think that shows what a problem (the GOP) has… trying to go both ways and you can’t really do that,” Dionne says of McConnell.
As far as the party as a whole, Dionne says there’s a big choice that needs to be made. “(Does the GOP) want to go down a democratic path or an anti-democratic path? If they go down the democratic path, they will have to appeal to a broader electorate (than they have in recent years),” he says. This will mean creating meaningful outreach and relationships with communities of color, immigrants and other groups the party has intentionally marginalized in the past for political gain.
As far as what it means that Democratic President Biden is now in a position to make some policy changes to orders carried out during the Trump administration, Dionne says that Biden is willing to reach across the aisle, but doesn’t expect that he’ll bend over backward to get bipartisan support on issues that matter to him. “Biden is somebody who talks about reaching out to Republicans… but he’s also made clear that the economy needs a big jolt to move forward out of this pandemic and if the Republican Party doesn’t go along with him, he’s going to move forward with the Democrats to get it done.”