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IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENTLY LIVING IN A PRE-TRUMP 2 OR PRE-TRUMPIAN TIME PERIOD? AN EXTENDED AND UPDATED REPORT; MARCH, 2022

Authors:
IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENTLY LIVING
IN A PRE-TRUMP 2 OR PRE-TRUMPIAN TIME PERIOD?
AN EXTENDED AND UPDATED REPORT; MARCH, 2022
by Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D., Ph.D.
ABSTRACT
In this article the author continues to discuss the following question: Is the United States currently
living in a pre-Trump 2 or pre-Trumpian time period? The author previously described why he believes
that the consequences of a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian would be disastrous for the
United States, and less directly for the world. Furthermore, he discussed United States President
Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and the dangerous consequences of these ratings very possibly leading
to an eventual 2024 Trump or Trumpian presidency. The author stressed the importance, in regard to
the possibility of avoiding a 2024 Trump or Trumpian presidency, of Congress passing some version of
the Build Back Better (human infrastructure) bill, and especially of deciding to carve out voting rights
from the filibuster in order to pass federal voting rights legislation to offset a number of states passing
voting restriction laws, inclusive of gerrymandering and state legislatures being able to choose their
state electors regardless of how people vote. This continuation article was written 3 months later, and
evaluates the current state of affairs in regard to all the above considerations. The author concludes that
although the United States may very well be currently living in a Pre-Trump 2 or Pre-Trumpian time
period, this is not inevitable, and that there are some preliminary indications that it may be possible to
avoid this scenario from occurring.
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INTRODUCTION
In a book chapter about the topic of this present article (Benjamin, in press a), I previously conveyed
how a number of authors vividly described the destructive consequences during the 4 years in which
Donald Trump was President of the United States, and how some authors expressed their concerns
about the renewed destructiveness that would take place if either Trump or a Trumpian were to become
President of the United States in 2024.1 I also conveyed how these concerns were especially prominent
for some of my colleagues in the field of humanistic psychology:
A number of humanistic psychologists, with their focus on empathy as a foundation of
humanistic psychology (Rogers, 1969; Schneider et al., 2015), have expressed grave concerns
about the authoritarian inhumane aspects of Trump’s presidency, in their contributions to two
special issues of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 2020 that were devoted to this topic.[2]
In regard to what these humanistic psychologists have described as the destructive effects during
the 4 years that the United States has recently lived through under President Trump, the
escalation in racism, xenophobia, and hate crimes are blatant examples of the increasing lack of
empathy hat has grown rampant in the United States. (Benjamin, in press a)
However, in addition, I described the following initially optimistic perspective that many people
shared soon after the November, 2020 election of President Joe Biden, though this gradually changed
as more time passed:
After the November, 2020 election of Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump as United States
president, and through the first few months of Biden’s presidency, many people felt a very
refreshing sense of optimism that perhaps there is a way out of the catastrophic destruction of our
basic human values, as well as our democracy tself, that they viewed our country as being
immersed in during the previous 4 years. . . . But as time progressed, this uplifting optimism
became weathered as a number of Biden supporters with a politically Progressive perspective
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witnessed him making various decisions that could hardly be called “humanistic,” inclusive of
his precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan that lead to massive chaos and deadly assaults from
the Taliban takeover of the country. . . . Nevertheless, some authors conveyed that it is important
to not forget that the alternative to Biden being successful would likely lead to a 2024 Trump 2 or
Trumpian presidency, once again accomplished with enormous assistance from
President Trump’s or President Trumpian’s effective tactics of cult indoctrination and
social media manipulation1 (Benjamin, in press a)
The prospect of Biden being successful appeared to be more and more tenuous as he approached the
one year anniversary of his presidency:
But what concerns me personally even more than the apparent crack in Biden’s purported
extremely high degree of empathy is related to the possible consequences of his low approval
ratings. . . . Aside from his problematic Afghanistan withdrawal, Biden’s current low approval
ratings, appear to be based upon factors that he is being held responsible for that some people
have argued are not his fault. These factors include the recent Delta variant coronavirus surge and
the even more recent alarm of the Omicron variant coronavirus surge, in conjunction with the
counterproductive impact of the anti-vaccination movement, the weakening of the economy, the
rise in inflation and gasoline prices, the problems with the supply chain, and the agonizing
struggles between the Progressive and Moderate Democratic factions in Congress to pass Biden’s
two infrastructure bills, with the continuation of this struggle to pass the second (Build Back
Better) infrastructure bill. . . . The likelihood of a 2024 Trump 2 or Trumpian presidency is
certainly linked to Biden’s approval ratings, but perhaps even more significantly it is linked to
numerous voting rights restrictions that a number of states have already passed and many other
states are in the process of trying to pass, with the ghost of the filibuster very likely assuring that
no federal voting rights legislation to offset this will make its way through Congress. . .
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Furthermore, a Trump 2 or Trumpian 2024 United States presidency would likely escalate the
debacle of climate destruction, as a result of the United States again leaving the Paris Climate
Accord, escalating the drilling for oil all over the world, eliminating environmental safeguards,
etc.1 (Benjamin, in press a)
In my book chapter I discussed at length all the contortions and ramifications of Biden and the
Democrats trying to pass two infrastructure bills, one of which was successfully passed in a bipartisan
Senate vote and focused upon roads and bridges, while the other, the “human” infrastructure bill that
included urgent climate and green energy provisions and was referred to as the Build Back Better bill,
was in serious danger of being passed due to the unwillingness of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin
(Benjamin, in press a). As more time passed, this state of affairs has taken its inevitable course, as
Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote against the bill, and Biden and the Democrats were left with a
severe loss (Foran et al., 2022; Lizza & Bade, 2022). I also discussed what I considered to be the
urgency of carving out voting rights from the filibuster, in order to pass federal voting rights legislation
to offset a number of states passing voting restriction laws, inclusive of gerrymandering and state
legislatures being able to choose their state electors regardless of how people vote (Benjamin, in press
a). However, I was not optimistic about this happening, this time due to the barriers of both Democratic
Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and once again as more time passed the state of affairs took
its inevitable course as both Manchin and Sinema voted against making any changes to the filibuster, in
spite of President Biden’s strong advocacy to to do (Debonis, 2022; Kim et al, 2022; Liptak & Sullivan,
2021).
I ended my book chapter, after describing a harrowing depiction by Robert Kagan (2021) of the
escalated violence and destruction of democracy that he predicted would take place if Trump were
elected as President of the United States in 2024, with the following words:
I must conclude that it is likely that we are currently living in a Pre-Trump 2 or Pre-Trumpian
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time period. However, I also think that it is “possible” that we can avoid this disastrous scenario
from occurring,. . . and therefore I am not giving up hope that we can still preserve democracy in
the United States. (Benjamin, in press a)
In this follow-up extended and updated report, I will continue to discuss the question that I dealt
with in my book chapter, but I will also take a more concrete look at how “possible” it may actually be
to thwart a United States 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian.
WHICH IS MORE LIKELY AND WHICH IS WORSE:
A PRESIDENT TRUMP OR A PRESIDENT TRUMPIAN?
Before discussing how possible it may be to avoid the scenario of a United States 2024
President Trump or President Trumpian, it may be worthwhile to examine which is more likely to
happen and which may be more destructive to democracy in the United States: a President Trump or a
President Trumpian? In another book chapter (Benjamin, in press b), I was cautiously optimistic that it
was possible to avoid a Trump 2 or Trumpian 2024 presidency, partially based upon the likelihood of a
weakened version of the Build Back Better bill being passed:
Why am I not giving up hope that we can thwart the Trumpian destruction of democracy in the
United States? The picture is undoubtedly extremely precarious, as I have described above, and
I am by no means minimizing the immense danger that the United States is currently living in
from the Trumpian threat to its democracy. I have indicated that to have any chance of avoiding
this extremely dire future scenario, I believe that the United States Congress needs to pass both a
weakened version of the Build Back Better bill and a carve-out to the filibuster. Let’s start with
the likelihood of a weakened version of the Build Back Better bill being passed. When Joe
Manchin shocked everyone with his reversal and pronouncement that he was not willing to
support the Build Back Better bill in its present form, virtually all Democrats, including President
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Biden (and myself), were visibly very disappointed and angry (Lizza & Blade, 2021). . . . It now
appears that Biden has gotten back to his constructive communication style of dialogue with
Manchin and that Manchin is open to continuing to work through forging some kind of
compromise on the bill to at least pass “something”. . . . Furthermore, Manchin is under pressure
“back home” in West Virginia to endorse the Build Back Better bill’s expanded child care credit
program, which is one of his key reasons for not supporting the bill (Khalil, 2021). In addition,
America’s largest coal mining union put out a statement supporting the Build Back Better bill
and asking Manchin to reverse his opposition to the bill (Egan, 2021). Apparently the positive
aspects in the bill for coal miners in regard to financial and employment gains outweigh their
concerns that the green energy environmental components of the bill would be detrimental to
them (Egan, 2021). At any rate, I believe that putting all of this together, Manchin will eventually
come around to supporting some kind of weakened version of the Build Back Better bill, and this
will still count as a big win for Biden, the American people, and for taking crucial steps to reduce
the extent of impending climate change destruction. Of course how soon this weakened version
of the bill gets passed is crucial if it is going to be of help to the Democrats before the 2022
midterms, but I think there is enough time that it will likely get passed to help the Democrats
before the midterm elections, quite possibly some time in the Spring of 2022. (Benjamin,
in press b)
But unfortunately I was mistaken in my cautiously optimistic prediction, as events soon transpired
in which Manchin permanently killed the Build Back Better bill even in a weakened version, and
nearly three quarters of West Virginians supported Manchin in his decision, based upon their fears
about the country’s rising inflation (Evers-Hillstrom, 2022; Foran et al., 2022). Hopefully Congress
will be able to pass some form of a “piecemeal” weakened version of the filibuster bill before the
midterm elections, but the Build Back Better bill as a whole package, even as a weakened whole
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package, is dead (Delaney & Golshen, 2022). And in regard to the possibility of carving out voting
rights from the filibuster, which I stated that in my opinion was crucial to accomplish to have any
chance of avoiding the possible 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian calamity (Benjamin,
in press a, in press b), the picture now looks more bleak than it has ever looked before, as both
Manchin and Sinema, along with all 50 Senate Republicans, have voted against doing this (Debonis,
2022).
For a number of months Biden’s approval ratings were going steadily downhill, caused largely by
the continued pandemic and rising inflation, and he was approaching Trump for having the lowest
approval ratings of any American president (Cillizza, 2021; Fink, 2022; Graham, 2022; Malloy et al.,
2022; Page & Rouan, 2021; Stein & Parker, 2022; Tappe, 2022; The Hill Staff, 2022).3 Apparently the
advocacy from the United Mine Workers of America for “Senator Manchin and every other Senator to
be prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish that [the passage of voting rights legislation]” (Egan,
2021, p. 2) was not enough to overcome Manchin’s opposition to carving out voting rights from the
filibuster, and Biden’s strong advocacy for doing this apparently had no effect upon either Manchin or
Sinema (Blaine & Stracqualursi, 2021). The picture certainly looked distressing in regard to the
possibility of avoiding a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian (Place, 2022), and based upon
the preliminary tragic havoc and destruction from the Russian invasion of Ukraine it seemed very
possible that the picture would soon get even more distressing (Collinson, 2022; Smith, 2022).
However, for a while it appeared that it may be possible to prevent this dire sencario from escalating, as
President Biden got a modest boost in his approval ratings after his State of the Union speech, with an
especially favorable response for the way he was handling the immensely challenging Russia/Ukraine
situation, navigating a very tricky path between sanctions on Russia, giving military support to Ukraine
without engaging in direct military confrontation with Russia, and making it a prioriy to avoid a
nuclear war between NATO and Russia, which could be World War III (Cillizza, 2022; Enten, 2022;
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McGee & Calzonetti, 2022; Montanaro, 2022; Romano, 2022)3,4. But there has also been disapproval
with Biden in Congress by a number of Republicans and Independents, as well as some Democrats,
who are frustrated that Biden has not been aggressive enough with assisting Ukraine militarily (Fox &
Herb, 2022; Naughton, 2022; Wang, 2022). As it turned out, Biden's modest approval rating gains were
tenuous and temporary as he currently has the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, as many
people are disturbed by both inflation and the continued Russia/Ukaine havoc (Beal, 2022; KCRG
Staff, 2022). As a consequence, there is a great deal of concern that the Democrats will not be able to
maintain contol of Congress in the midterm elections (Bender, 2022; KCRG Staff, 2022; Kilgore,
2022; Samuels, 2022). In this regard, Robert Hubbell (2022) has described how Biden is doing what he
believes is necessary to prevent the global catastrophe of a nuclear war, and is willing to suffer the
possible political consequences through doing so, and I agree with Hubbell (and Biden):
Biden is taking the responsible and moral path in de-escalating the threat of a broader war
beyond Ukrinae. He will likely endure criticism from all sides becasue of his decisions. Oil
prices will go up, food shortages will increase globally, financial markets will be disrupted, and
every Biden critic will fancy themselves a military expert. As we watch scenes of unimaginable
horror run on a loop on cable news, frustrated and angry Americans will wrongly blame
Joe Biden for not "doing more" to stop Putin's war on Ukrainians. But Biden has no choice. He
must do the right thing to prevent a global catastrophe, even if those decisions inflict political
damage from which he cannot recover. We are fortunate to have Joe Biden leading our nation—
and the free world—during these perilous times. It could have been otherwise. (Hubbell, 2022,
p. 6)
However, on a more positive note, aside from Biden's modest approval rating gains from his
handling of Ukraine, he also benefited from his accomplishments in regard to the U.S. economy
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moving in the right direction and Covid being in retreat (Cillizza, 2022).3,4 There are some additional
brighter spots for the possibility of preventing a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian that
I will describe below, but first off I think it is instructive to consider the question of which would be
more likely and which would be worse: President Trump or President Trumpian? To answer these
questions I have previously described my thoughts as follows:
One can take a look at the Republican potential presidential candidate who is second in
popularity to Trump, and this is the Trumpian governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis (Romano,
2021; Sharma, 2021). So what are DeSantis’ claims to his popularity with Republican voters?
Essentially he has come out very strongly against vaccine mandates and mask mandates, and he
prematurely opened his state up for business in the midst of escalating death and destruction in
Florida from the coronavirus pandemic (Merica, 2021; Rohrer et al., 2021; Rupar, 2021).
Therefore one may very well ask if DeSantis as President of the United States would be worse
than Trump, thinking in terms of climate change and pandemic disasters. And in regard to the
greater likelihood of having a President Trump 2 or a President Trumpian, it is interesting that at
the current time, which is still 3 years away from the 2024 presidential election, just about 1 in 4
voters would like to see either Biden or Trump as the United States 2024 presidential candidate
(Romano, 2024).. . . . Furthermore, Trump is in the process of being challenged from a number
of different fronts, both politically and legally, inclusive of the January 6th Commission, the state
of New York [5], and the city of New York (Al-Arshani, 2021; Andrade, 2021; Blake, 2021).
Apparently there is no legal clause that says imprisonment is a barrier to becoming the President
of the United States (which I find to be repulsively amazing), but I would think that
imprisonment, or even just the fact of being found guilty of aiding the January 6th insurrection,
could be enough of a deterrent for moderate Republicans and Independents to undermine
Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican presidential 2024 candidate (Andrade, 2021). It
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would stand to reason that if Trump still managed to become the Republican presidential
candidate that a criminal guilt verdict or imprisonment would significantly reduce his chances of
actually winning the election, but then we get back to the potential Trumpian destruction of
democracy in the United States through all the states’ voting rights restrictions, and when push
comes to shove, we are left with the horrific situation of state legislatures being able to choose
their state electors regardless of who voters choose. . . . Unless of course Congress manages to
pass a carve-out of voting rights in the filibuster, but this gets us back to my “not optimistic”
outlook of this happening. (Benjamin, in press b)
Some more recent discussions about this from other authors include the perspectives that some of
Trump’s previous criminal activities while he was President are now being discovered and publicized,
with legal actions being taken against him (Breuninger, 2022; Cheney & Gerstein, 2022),5 Trump is
losing his grip on the Republican party (Eleveld, 2022; SignWithIntegrity, 2022), that it would be to the
Democrats’ advantage if it is Trump as opposed to a Trumpian as the Republican 2024 presidential
candidate (Dean, 2022), Trump is much more popular than his closest rival DeSantis in a Conservative
Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2022 straw poll (Bolies, 2022), that more violence and destruction
would result from a “shrewder” Trumpian president compared to Trump (Greenblatt, 2022), and a
description of the nightmare scenario that may very well unfold through trying to stop Trump from
being on the 2024 presidential ballot through the 14th Amendment based upon the January 6th
commission’s findings of his role in spearheading the Capitol insurrection (Ackerman & Magliocca,
2022). John Dean (not the John Dean from the Watergate era) has voiced the following thoughts in
regard to a Trumpian 2024 presidential candidate being more difficult to beat than it would be to beat
Trump:
Although DeSantis may head the pack, any of the Trump alternatives would be worse for
America than the return of Trump himself. All six alternatives [DeSantis, Hawley, Cruz, Rubio,
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Haley, Pence] are younger, smarter, saner, more experienced, arguably mentally healthier than
Trump. None of them have the baggage of a history of sexual harassment or buffoonery. That is
why supporting Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination makes sense. He will be easier to
beat because he would reunite the Democratic party and increase Democratic voter turnout. And
even if his efforts to win the GOP nomination were to fail, he likely will smear all of his
Republican opponents, weakening them in advance of the general election. (Dean, 2022, p. 2)
And Jonathan Greenblatt (2022), the CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), inpactfully
described how the violence and destruction in the United States could explode with “the arrival of
another demagogue—one smarter and more disciplined than Donald Trump:
What might occur if social instability deepens, hateful attitudes become even more pervasive and
entrenched, the traditional institutional protections are worn down even more, and a much
shrewder demagogue rises to power?. . . . In this environment, with hatred seething around us,
the arrival of another demagogue—one smarter and more disciplined than Donald Trump—is all
it would take to produce an explosion of violence, mass death, and the destruction of our society
and democracy. (Greenblatt, 2022, pp. 10-11)
Well Dean’s and Greenblatt’s arguments make sense to me but the thought of “President Trump”
again, makes me feel sick. I wonder what meaning anything anymore would have if we followed
Dean’s advice and purposely supported Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. Rather, I think
we need to just let things play out as they will and support the January 6th Commission investigation of
Trump’s involvement in instigating the Capitol insurrection, as well as all the legal proceedings against
Trump. And Jonathan Greenblatt (2022) reminds us of the violent consequences that may arise from a
political leader’s hate-filled rhetoric, as he focused in particular on Trump:
When a political leader, especially one with the tremendous reach and influence of President
Trump, not only fails to condemn hate but actively encourages it, the entire tone of our nation’s
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discourse shifts. Extremists become emboldened, hateful ideology spreads, and society becomes
far more susceptible to violence. (p. 164)
Yes I believe that Trump should be held accountable no matter what the consequences, perhaps
through the 14th Amendment, but here is a glimpse of the harrowing possible scenario of doing this, as
described by Bruce Ackerman and Gerard Magliocca (2022):
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment—the disqualification Clause—expressly bars any person from
holding “any office, civil or military, under the United States” if he “engaged in insurrection”
against the Constitution after previously swearing to uphold it “as an officer of the
United States.” These terms definitely apply to Trump, and some Democrats are exploring the
use of Section 3 against him. . . . Before he can run for the Republican nomination in the
primaries, he must convince each state’s election authorities that Section 3 doesn’t bar him from
the White House. . . . It isn’t necessary to delve into the complexities, however, to know that
once Trump announces his candidacy, his lawyers will be confronting multiple challenges to his
qualifications on a nationwide basis. One thing is clear. It is virtually impossible that all 50 states
will come to the same decision. Instead, some election authorities will disqualify him while
others will conclude that the facts are insufficiently compelling to justify his exclusion under the
14th Amendment. . . . Violent opposition in these states will respond with counter-demonstrations.
Violent confrontations may well result. . . . This will dramatically reinforce the polarization
dividing Americans. Election Day will escalate these tensions. . . . The constitutional crisis will
escalate further once the polls close and each state decides who won the election. . . . If Joe
Biden’s term expires on Jan. 20, 2025 before Congress has designated a clear successor, the
speaker becomes acting president until the House acts decisively. This is a recipe for disaster.
America will be governed by a temporary caretaker president while Democrats and Republicans
denounce each other’s nominee on Capitol Hill. Not only will this provoke massive street
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demonstrations by militants on both sides but it will also invite foreign adversaries to take
advantage of American paralysis with aggressive power plays. Two scenarios are possible if the
House eventually chooses a winner. Both are terrible. (pp. 2-4, 6)
I take Ackerrman and Magliocca’s (2022) gruesome depictions of what may likely occur in the
aftermath of the 2024 presidential election very seriously, especially from the reports of how multitudes
of American are now open to violence as “legitimate” political discourse (Kagan, 2021; Lott, 2021;
Schwartz, 2022), with the horrendous statistic that “Nearly a quarter of Americans say it’s sometimes
OK to use violence against the government—and 1 in 10 Americans say violence is justified
‘right now.’” (Schwartz, 2022, p. 2). But let’s continue on and examine a few “brighter spots” for the
possibility of preventing a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian scenario.
”BRIGHTER SPOTS” FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF PREVENTING A
2024 PRESIDENT TRUMP OR PRESIDENT TRUMPIAN
Esteemed social scientist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky, based upon his extreme
concerns about the environmental destruction of the planet, has described the Republican party as the
“most dangerous organization in human history,” “a radical insurgency,” and a “serious danger to
human survival.” 6 (Oppenheim, 2017, pp. 1, 4; Villarreal, 2022; p. 2). If we listen to Chomsky’s
perspective on the Republican party then it may be irrelevant which is worse and which is more likely:
a President Trump or President Trumpian. Consequently what I believe is most important is to prevent
either of these catastrophic scenarios from taking place in 2024. And along these lines, there
are some preliminaries developments that may be construed as somewhat hopeful signs for Democrats
that perhaps the situation is not quite as bleak and hopeless as the pundits have been predicting. First
off, there is a current bipartisan effort in the Senate, inclusive of Joe Manchin, to formulate a bill that
would secure the legitimacy of the counting of state electors in United States presidential elections
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(Fox et al., 2022; LeBlanc et al, 2022). And it now appears that the Republican Congressional House
advantage from gerrymandering may not be quite as extreme as Democrats were concerned it would be
(Hounshell & Askarinam, 2022; Kight, 2022; Mtmofo, 2022). Esteemed economist Robert Reich
(2022) cited a number of reasons why he believes that it is quite possible that Democrats will retain
control of both the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, inclusive of improvements in job
growth, a decrease in inflation, a significant reduction in the pandemic, uniting behind President Biden
if Russia attacks Ukraine (Reich’s formulations were made soon before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine),
the passing of a weakened version of the Build Back Better bill, the courts pushing back on Republican
gerrymandering, the overturning of Roe v. Wade to unite Democrats in the midterms, the findings of
the January 6th Committee, Trump increasing his conspiracy theories that will turn off moderate
Republicans, and Independents, and Biden and the Democrats focusing upon the vulnerability of
average working Americans to big corporations and Wall Street. Putting all these preliminary “brighter
spots” together, two Democratic authors have advocated that anyone wanting to prevent the
Republicans gaining the majorities in the House and Senate in 2022 (which would greatly increase the
likelihood of a President Trump or President Trumpian in 2024) should not give up, but should put their
maximum efforts into achieving their goals (Lux & Lake, 2022). In particular, Lux & Lake (2022)
conveyed the following inspirational message:
Between the last half of 2021 being a little rocky and the challenging history of midterm
elections for a president’s party, pundits are pronouncing doom and gloom for Democrats,
Republicans are gloating, and too many of us are hanging our heads, fearing that we will lose big
in 2022. . . . What Democrats need to do is shake off the doldrums, get over the pessimism, and
get about the business of fashioning a winning strategy for 2022. We can’t—and our democracy
can’t—afford to let pessimism becomes [sic] self-fulfilling prophecy. (p. 2)
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Lux & Lake (2022) went on to cite a number of what they refer to as “popular things” that
Democrats have delivered to the American people, and a much more comprehensive listing of these
things, much of which was spearheaded by President Biden, can be seen in the reports by
GoodNewsRoundup (2021, 2022). But what I found most useful in their article was a compilation and
description of ways in which Democrats may very well hold an advantage over Republicans in the
2022 midterm elections. Here is a sketch of what they conveyed:
Republicans have profound liabilities going into this election year. . . . Donald Trump remains
deeply unpopular, as do his election lies, and his embrace of violence and extremism [see Stone,
2022]. In fact, Trump’s approval ratings have been headed downhill and a big majority of
American adults—70% according to new polling—don’t want to see him run again in 2024. . . .
The House redistricting process looks like it won’t be as bad overall as was previously
feared. . . . The fears some Democrats had about a decisive blow being struck against our chances
of keeping the House were overblown by more than a bit, , , , The Senate map really is pretty
good. . . . There are four states we have to defend, all of which we are in pretty good shape in
unless there is a wave election against us. And there are six states we have a shot to pick up, three
of which I would rate as at least a 50-50 shot in a respectable year for Democrats. . . . Right now,
Republicans voters are almost entirely talking to their most hard core, pro-Trump base. . . . In a
year where abortion rights are in danger, where child care and universal pre-K and health care are
big issues, Republican candidates being slow to talk to swing voters could be fatal—especially
when they are taking stands that voters don’t like. (pp. 4, 6)
Lux and Lake (2022) stressed that Democrats are the majority party in the country in terms of the
popular vote, and they summed up their argument tersely and cogently: “What we need to understand is
that cynicism is a far greater problem than opposition: the voters are on our side” (p. 6). And they gave
a number of recommendations for how Democrats can win in 2022:
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1. We need to promote our big accomplishments, specifically the great things we have already
delivered for working families. . . . It can be boiled down to this: Democrats are building things.
Republicans just want to break them, and are opposing all efforts to fix anything. 2. Build a
broad economic narrative about the changes Democrats are working to make in order to make it
help working families more; and how Big Business, in league with the Republicans, is fighting
the positive change Democrats are working to deliver. . . . 3. Use the race-class narrative
approach to frame responses to Republican attacks . . . . 4. Telling our story about rising prices.
Inflation is probably our number one challenge right now in terms of our success at delivering a
positive economic message. It is definitely something voters are worried about and thinking
about a lot, and Democrats should not discount or avoid the problem. . . . Democrats reject the
idea that wages should go down to curb inflation. We are working hard to get the prices of
prescription drugs, health care, energy, housing, and child care down to affordable levels. We will
wrestle this problem to the ground. 5. Non-profit and party organizations have developed voter
registration and GOTV strategies targeted to key Democratic leaning constituencies like people
of color, young people, and unmarried women that have been proven to work in elections year
after year, but they are always underfunded. . . . As we said above, if we turn our voters out, we
will win this election, but it will be a big challenge. There is no higher priority in terms of
winning the 2022 elections than a strong, well-funded GOTV strategy. (pp. 7-10)
And Lux and Lake (2022) concluded their powerful and crucial message of hope for Democrats with
a shot in the arm that I for one certainly needed:
We know this is a discouraging time for Democrats. Covid’s ravages have all of us down.
Manchin and Sinema are driving everyone crazy. The Supreme Court keeps issuing awful
decisions and is likely to overturn Roe v[,] Wade. Republicans keep getting more and more
extreme. Democratic base groups are unenthusiastic. But we have time to turn things around, and
17)
plenty of factors that are in our favor. We need to begin moving right away to build a strong
narrative telling people why they should vote for us. We need to get our accomplishments out
there, front and center. We have to build a strong, clear economic narrative about how Democrats
are, in the midst of great challenges, fighting hard against big money special interests that
Republicans are supporting at every turn, and are getting things done for working families: we
have to remind people what Democrats delivered while the Republicans voted no—many voters
still believe Republicans supported the relief effort, so we need to be very strong on the fact that
they did not. And some of what we have to do is go back to basics in terms of grassroots
organizing. We know how to turn out our voters if we just put the money we need into making it
happen. Most of all, our elected leaders and our candidates have to inspire people. Voters need to
know we are battling every day, and in every way, to make their lives better. We won’t win every
battle, but people don’t expect that from us. As long as we are fighting, they will show up for us.
Democrats can do this. We can win in 2022, increase our margins in the House and Senate, win
more governorships and state legislative bodies, win local races throughout the country. We have
to have a message that inspires and persuades; we have to pick fights with Big Business and
Republicans that voters get excited about; and we have to redouble every effort to turn people out
to vote. (p. 11)
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, I believe that the United States is currently living in a dangerous time period that
could be the precursor to the Trumpian destruction of its democracy. We have lived through the
destructive effects of the presidency of Donald Trump from 2017 through 2020, and Trump’s skillful
use of social media addiction and cult indoctrination, buttressed by his disastrous response to the
coronavirus pandemic, are continuing in the context of Republicans and Trumpians forging an
18)
enormous threat to the continuation of our democracy as we approach the 2024 presidential election.
However, although I am deeply concerned that this tragic future scenario may not be able to be
avoided, I am not giving up hope that democracy in the United States can still be preserved, through
avoiding a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian and electing a humane and wise Democratic
president. I believe that a crucial variable to avoid a disastrous 2024 President Trump or President
Trumpian scenario from unfolding is related to the popularity of President Joe Biden. Although I am
very concerned that Biden’s approval low approval ratings may be an insurmountable obstacle for
Democrats to retain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, I also think that there are
enough possible glimmers of hope for the potential 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian
disaster to at least have the possibility of being avoided.
NOTES
1) See the references in Benjamin, in press a.
2) See Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 60(4), July, 2020: Special Issue: Addressing the Elephant in
the Room: Stories of Ethical Activism in the Age of Trump; and Journal of Humanistic Psychology,
60(6), November, 2020: Special Issue: Turbulent Times in the Trump Era: Inside and Outside the
Consulting Room.
3) See Biden’s approval ratings at https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/biden-approval-rating/ and
https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-BIDEN/POLL/nmopagnqapa/
4) Biden effectively conveyed his stance on a number of crucial issues, inclusive of the Russian
invasion of Ukraine, the pandemic, the economy, the polarization of the country, and the threat to our
democracy, in two rare one-on-one interviews with two progressive social media proponents who have
a large progressive Democratic following; see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KutIWGd2fk8 and
https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/interview-with-president-biden?s=rd
19)
5) Unfortunately, the legal actions process against Trump in the state of New York now looks like it is
not going to be pursued (Rashbaum et al., 2022).
6) Chomsky has described Trump in particular as being the “worst criminal in human history”
(Chotiner, 2020, p. 2).
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