In retrospect it was inevitable—even overdue—that we'd do with America what we did to Earth: defecate all over it, then assume there'll be no consequences. In elevating and celebrating Trump, the GOP doomed us to decades of historic corruption and moral disease in our government.
The list of things now officially permissible at the highest levels of our government—because of GOP cowardice—is enough to permanently degrade our democracy: foreign interference in elections; pathological lying without shame; personal conflicts of interest never resolved; more.
The worst part: the GOP will vainly, even grotesquely try to do a take-backsies on destroying America the second there's a Democratic president. At the first lie, they'll howl. But it'll be the boy who cried wolf, as Trump lied 14,000 times in three years without any consequence.
Part of it is that the culture in Washington—already toxic; already chasing away most good people—is now permanently fatal to any goodness or integrity. But part of it is Trumpism generally, which is going to be with us for decades no matter what happens with Trump specifically.
When and if Trump leaves office, he'll either start Trump TV immediately and be in your house daily pretending he's still president or, if he's indicted—as he should be, in SDNY at a minimum—he'll go somewhere overseas he can't be touched and from *there* be in your house daily.
His son Don is being groomed for politics; Ivanka may still run. Pathethic Trumpist hangers-on will be running for offices nationwide with Trump as the real power/voice behind them for as long as Trump or any of his family members are around. Trumpism is a near-permanent blight.
There's one chance—and not even a great one—to avoid this. A historic reversal, revolution, and rebuke arising in the Senate that sends Trump reeling out of office. Would the GOP likely have to sit on the nation's political bench for a few years? Yes. But they could save America.
Obviously, that's never going to happen. And so it's the alternative: a permanent diminishment of America that nothing can stand in the breach to avert. The Rubicon is the Senate trial, and if it's crossed—no matter who wins in 2020—it's crossed, and Trumpism is made *permanent*.
I don't say this to be cynical or morose. I say it because everyone will have to develop a plan—emotional, physical, intellectual—for how to subsist *long-term* in a nation that will be (even if you always thought America rife with problems) permanently worse than it was in 2014.
I expect that we'll end up with "quarter-generations of resistance"—small "r"—meaning individual politically active Americans who understand that it'll take decades to return our democracy to even moderate health will need to push back for 5 or 7 years at a time and then bow out.
Many of us have been in a sprint, assuming something will resolve the blight—e.g., a smoking gun from the counterintelligence community, or the 2020 election, or Trump getting indicted post-presidency. But not only is this not a sprint, it's not a marathon—it's just America, now.
It's clear our major institutions—FBI, CIA, Pentagon—have hunkered down to try to save themselves over a decades-long moral winter, and the GOP closed up shop on its principles. So Trumpism will survive 2020. And Trump likely finds a way to escape legal liability post-presidency.
So in the same way families have emergency plans, American families that retain a belief in basic principles—honesty, integrity, honor, (mature) patriotism, decency, self-sacrifice—will have to develop plans to stay *healthy* in (again) a "moral winter" that could last *decades*.
I expect many of us have been in relationships in which our partner suddenly did something we realized was unforgivable. We're at that point with the GOP. That doesn't mean it's all unfettered trench political warfare now, it just means that—no—they *can't* be forgiven. Not ever.
What does this mean in the short term? For me, it means that anyone promising to just "fix it" and bring America back to where it was in short order isn't being honest with me. It's now, for me, a matter of how I learn to live my values publicly and privately the rest of my life.
In a *narrow* sense, we've had it good, even—in this *narrow* sense—the many Americans who *haven't* had it good generally: we didn't fear our leaders were *actually* crazy; or *directly* selling us out to foreign nations; or lying to us not just weekly but scores of times daily.
Anyway, this is what I found myself thinking about on the first day of 2020: how to build a sustainable life—with some rest, peace, and maybe hope—in a noticeably bleaker environment than even the most cynical of us expected at the start of this new decade. It's a long-term task.
PS/ Please, no one do the thing where I get accused of saying things were fine & dandy before Trump. They weren't—at all. I'm saying things were bad at whatever level you perceived them as bad in 2014, but *this* is a level worse than whatever *that* was that none of us expected.
You can follow @SethAbramson.
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