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Trump's self-obsessed narcissism and vanity has culminated in the destruction of the movement he helped create. The question becomes if there is a road forward for the people who believed in Trump, and if so, what that is. One thing is clear: it's not with Trump.
Each individual is responsible for their own actions, and those who stormed the Capitol and facilitated that violent action have no one to blame but themselves. But Trump does bear culpability as well, as so many have said in the wake of the violence on Jan. 6. He betrayed those who were loyal to him by filling their heads with fantasies of a revolution. He left no clear road to concession for himself, or for rebuilding for his supporters.
A man who demands loyalty but offers none in return is not a man worthy of leadership. Those who supported him can take heart in some of the policies he implemented during his term in office.
As Kimberley A. Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Trump achieved "The withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the Iranian deal. The greatest tax simplification and reduction since Reagan. The largest deregulatory effort since—well, ever. Three Supreme Court justices and 54 appellate court judges. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. The Jerusalem embassy. Criminal-justice reform. Opportunity zones. He could have noted that the greatest proof of just how much Democrats and the establishment feared his mission were the five years of investigations, hysterical allegations and 'deep state' sabotage—which he survived."
So what of those Trump supporters who believed that because they had Trump's back, he had theirs too? This was not a man in whom to put one's faith. That honour should still belong to God alone.
Our culture was in a place where the only one willing to defend natural rights was a narcissistic troll; that is to say, we were already in trouble. The upholding of our natural rights, as stated clearly in our nation's Bill of Rights, is an essential undertaking. It was before Trump and it will be long after anyone remembers his name.
Trump supporters are primarily conservatives with traditional values, not insane people who want to commit mass violence and disrupt the Democratic process. As Trump amped up his rhetoric surrounding allegations of voter fraud, it was hard for many on the right to back him, but given the staunch allegiance the man's ego requires, it was hard to look away, either. The nation must resist the urge to judge Trump's supporters, those who voted for him, by Trump's actions. Nor are those 74 million citizens who voted for Trump white supremacists.
The election fraud claims did not prove out, yet Trump kept insisting, and as the courts dropped the cases, his supporters were left holding the bag. He had a legal right to pursue these claims, but he had a moral right to drop it when it was clear that it was over. The legislature and the executive branch of the federal government will be in Democrat hands. As the fallout continues to spread across the conservative eco-sphere, where should Trump supporters who disavow violence, yet feel alienated from the party of Mitch McConnell, turn?
Speaking on his livestream, Michael Malice said that for conservatives who fit the MAGA mold, there's really only one option. "Keep your mouth shut," Malice said, "don't start engaging with people, so you can pass." He said that "As far as you can, keep your mouth shut and support people who are doing the fighting."
Malice's view is one where dissent is not only unfruitful, but dangerous for the average American. "The time for conversation is long past, people are looking for heretics, they are looking to do you and your family harm, they are emboldened by these lockdowns, so picking fights on social media is going to have a high cost and very little benefit."
But could there be another option to silencing one's self out of fear of being silenced by another? Trump has been obsessed with his own ego to the point of not caring to feed anything else. But bending to the will of a self-obsessed man due simply to faith in his goodwill is not for the free-thinking individual.
Carry in yourself your own guidance, look to principles that serve truth and justice, not that serve one man. All men's kingdoms fall. There must be no worship of false idols; we must not be driven by vanity. Such is the story of Ozymandias in a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
"I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'"
Such is Trump's legacy, that of a deeply flawed leader, who put his own glory before honouring those who followed him. Trump was driven by vanity, and those who put their faith in him, a false idol if ever there was one, were driven as well by Trump's obsession with his own reflection.
All kingdoms will be consumed by sand, all false idols will crumble under the weight of their own meaningless vanity. It is within our hearts and with God's light that we can find meaning and purpose, not in one man who hasn't the strength to admit defeat.