As we watch embers fly from the conflagration that is #Donald Trump’s unhinged campaign for America’s presidency, it is tempting to start probing questions of its legacy. What will remain after this bad hombre retreats to Trump Tower and ascends the escalator from which he once entered our lives to announce his noxious candidacy?
Much has been written about the toxic brew of misogyny, racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia that Trump has served up in generous quantities at rallies and on the Twittersphere. The rhetoric and malice found here have permeated large parts of the country. Long-harbored grievances and fears are now expressed openly. As Jeremy Scahill of the Intercept observes:
While Trump has encouraged some of the darkest sentiments, he has also inspired a wave of vile followers, from Scottie Nell Hughes and Katrina Pierson to Rudy Giuliani and Pastor Mark Burns. The Republican nominee’s message emboldens Europe’s far right. Hindu nationalists in India are enamored with the Islamophobia he has channeled during the election. Former KKK leader David Duke is attempting to ride the wave of hate into a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.
Whether Trump wins, loses, or loses big, he has empowered fascists, racists and bigots. He did not create them, but he has legitimized them by becoming the nominee and openly expressing their heinous, hateful beliefs. This, to me, is one of the most frightening developments on a domestic level in the U.S. this election cycle. Trump may go away, but the people he has empowered will not.