Editorial – Extremists haven’t been defeated just because Trump lost at the ballot box

Editorial – Extremists haven’t been defeated just because Trump lost at the ballot box

Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential election in the US might dampen the hopes of the far right here. He was seen by many Irish extremists as an icon or figurehead for the wider movement. His election loss won’t go unnoticed or unmourned.

Don’t expect Trump to go gently into that good night either. Whether he won or lost — and he did lose, despite what he says — his mark on US politics and society wouldn’t just disappear. And his role in emboldening extremists across Ireland and Europe also wouldn’t just evaporate in the light of Joe Biden’s victory

Celebrate, for now

People are rightful to be jubilant. But his election defeat represents a battle that has been won more so than a war. At the time of writing Trump intends on fighting his loss as aggressively as possible. Like Hitler’s orders to continue fighting to the last man when Berlin was surrounded by the Red Army, Trump will fight as long as he possibly can no matter the cost. 

That he has refused to concede is nothing compared to his behaviour since polling day on Tuesday as well as not being surprising. His behaviour has been enough to warrant the US warning of an imminent invasion to install a democratic regime. From stating that he won as counting was still underway, and well before any idea of real outcome was known, to declaring that he was being cheated out of his apparently rightful electoral victory, his actions are as much deluded as they are dangerous.

The FBI had already warned that the period between polling day and the inauguration in January would be a “flash point” for far-right extremists. This scenario rapidly started to play out after the polls closed. Trump-supporting mobs have targeted election workers who dared to do their jobs of sorting and counting the ballots.

In one case two men armed with assault rifles were arrested in Philadelphia while on their way to the count centre there. It was reported that their SUV was festooned with QAnon stickers. Advocates of the QAnon conspiracy believe that Trump was doing battle with a satanic paedophiles who invariably were those who opposed Trump and his policies.

What lies ahead

This is just a few days into the morass of a presidential election while Trump is in the White House. What lies ahead is uncertain. But a miasma that emanated from the Oval Office won’t dissipate any time soon. Trump has made certain of that. 

The days and weeks ahead are dangerous. For now the US, and the rest of the world, can take pleasure in knowing that Trump has lost. Scenes from all over the US have shown people celebrating in the streets knowing that a madman has been given short shrift by a substantial part of the electorate.

But another sizeable part of the electorate — roughly 70 million people — also liked what Trump stood for. And this was reflected at the ballot box. Considering this, tomorrow is likely the start of another battle. And just like the ascent of Trump to the Oval Office in the first place, its effects will likely reverberate around the world. Only this time the stakes are much higher.

So, his loss shouldn’t be mistaken as a victory for the left and progressives. Those who would do harm to minorities will quickly move on. New figureheads can be found. 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Gage Skidmore

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