It’s hard to overstate just how many Trump supporters there are, how many have lost faith in the system, and how many have become reactively charged against it. The heavily pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald has become one of the most powerful forces on the Internet, with almost 400,000 highly-active subscribers and tens of millions of readers each day. The heavily pro-Trump Drudge Report is the third most-visited media site on the Internet (behind only ESPN and MSN [the automatic homepage for many PCs]), and is one of a small handful of sites to have broken the 1 billion hits per month mark. The ultra-pro Trump Alex Jones is perhaps the most listened-to radio personality in America, consistently beating even other conservative giants like Rush Limbaugh.
These numbers aren’t that significant on their own. There are plenty of liberal-leaning and anti-Trump news sites that get similar numbers. What’s shocking is how far outside of the mainstream narrative these sources run. On the top of r/The_Donald, for example, you’ll consistently find conspiracy theories linking the Clinton Foundation to pedophile rings and photos of Muslim men marrying underage girls. Drudge is tamer, but his links paint a consistent picture of a corrupt mainstream media working actively to destroy Trump at the behest of a class of immoral elites who are so hellbent on maintaining power that they’ll do anything to get him out of office. And Alex Jones…well, according to Jones the elites are getting their orders from off-world masters living in another dimension. So yeah…Trumpians ain’t watching no CNN.
My point is that if you think Trump supporters are going to accept an impeachment of Trump, no matter how rational the basis might be, you’re dead wrong. The leaders of the Trump movement (the real leaders) are so disconnected from the media that most of us read every day, and from the information provided by the government, that they might as well be living in one of Jones’ alternate dimensions. To them, it’s 100% fiction, just shadows flickering on the wall of Plato’s cave. And, like the liberated cave dwellers, they’ve seen the outside, and they’ll never believe the shadows again, no matter how factual they may be. The well is polluted to its core. Who to blame for this is at this point irrelevant (though in my last piece I argued the MSM should largely blame itself) because the distrust is so deep that it’s never coming back. Trump knows this, which is why he’s gone on Alex Jones’ show several times, and counts him as a trusted friend.
The result is a dangerous disconnection between what we’re being told is going on and the beliefs of a substantial portion of the citizenry. Not a substantial portion like a couple million. A substantial portion like 100 million. This week’s Rasmussen Poll, for example, found that 45% of voting Americans believe America is on the “right track.” This is down two points from the record high, which was recorded two weeks ago, and is higher than any week during the Obama presidency. (The MSM would never report this because it doesn’t jibe with their narrative that the sky is falling. It’s doing us all a great disservice by failing to do so.)
If you watch the news, however, if you buy the MSM, you’d think the number would be at an all time low. You’d think we’re on the precipice of total disaster. Trump cabinet members really are resigning. The FBI really is close to claiming that the Trump campaign collaborated with Russian officials. Yet, for many, many Americans, things are actually going better than they ever have. It’s this mass disconnection between reality and the establishment narrative that led Trump’s victory in the first place. It’s this mass disconnection that could also lead to the impeachment of Donald Trump and ultimately to the destruction of America as we know it.
On Tuesday, The New York Times published claims that Trump’s campaign had contacts with the Russian government before the election. The article does not specify what those contacts were, or if they were illegal or treasonous. Still, the writing on the wall is that Trump used Russian resources to hack the DNC and defeat Hillary Clinton. This could lead to impeachment in the vein of Watergate.
A Trump impeachment isn’t a crazy pipe dream, it’s a common belief amongst experts. An insider DC friend, who would know better than the vast majority of Americans (I’ll leave it at that), told me that he believes that Trump will be impeached within six months. Moby, the musician, made a similar claim with reference to insider information. Since January, impeachment propositions have been funneling through left-leaning political news sites and a Harvard Professor has already filed a lawsuit with hopeful endgame of impeachment.
I’ll leave it to journalists with more resources than me to decipher if the latest NYT story could actually lead to impeachment. What I offer is a warning. You might hate Trump more than you’ve ever hated anyone, and you might be right to do so. He might be a treasonous troll who pissed on prostitutes with Putin and wipes his ass with the constitution. But you better hope he doesn’t get impeached.
Here’s a map of the counties won by Trump and Clinton in the election. The deeper the color, the more distinct the victory.
A toddler could figure out that rural people voted for Trump and urban people voted for Hillary. This is not in dispute. The country looks all red, but it really isn’t because most of the population is concentrated in the blue areas. This is a frequent topic of lamentation for left-leaning statisticians. For e.g., here’s a “Cartogram” created by Snopes, which supposedly more accurately reflects how the vote went by population.
The Cartogram is sort of the perfect allegorical image for the aforementioned disconnect between actual reality and establishment reality. It gives hope to those who would like to see Trump impeached. Hillary won the popular vote by a large margin. Most of the country, in reality, doesn’t want Trump to be president. Thus, if Trump is removed from power before he really takes it, it wouldn’t be that big a deal right? After all, it happened to Nixon.
The Watergate analogy is a compelling one (here’s a WSJ breakdown of the similarities and differences). Dan Rather, smelling blood in the water, has already said, “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”
Watergate featured a couple of intrepid WaPo journalists uncovering that Richard Nixon had ordered a break in at the DNC headquarters. The purpose was to steal documents that would give him an informational advantage during his re-election campaign. It’s not hard to see similarities to the current situation, where a candidate is accused by the press of digitally breaking into the private communiques of the DNC. In this case the accusations are even worse because Trump supposedly relied not just on a foreign power, but Russia (for God’s sake) in order to do so.
However, there are also major differences between the current situation and Watergate, some more telling than others. First, Trump didn’t use the emails for an informational advantage during a re-election campaign. Rather, they were used to expose embarrassing corruption that existed within the DNC. They were given to the public by another major player, Wikileaks, and not kept strategically secret by the Trump campaign. Thus, there’s a public good/transparency element in play here that was missing in Watergate.
More importantly are the psychological differences. Watergate saw a paradigmatically establishment incumbent brought down by two intrepid reporters working against the odds. Back then, newspapers worked more independently and apart from establishment influence. There wasn’t a cabal of six media companies owning virtually all media, nor was there blatantly biased coverage like what has become normal on Fox News and MSNBC. Reporters didn’t play favorites. They tried to ferret out facts and present them to the public, while the then-establishment (represented by Nixon himself) tried to stop them. The Watergate narrative was David versus Goliath, and David won.
In Trump’s case, you have a paradigmatically anti-establishment candidate versus a powerful and brazenly biased media known to be as corrupt as the politicians it covers. The New York Times has admitted that it ignored Trump supporters during the election, and has essentially acknowledged its own bias. The people funneling money into politics are often the same ones who own the media companies that are doing the reporting, i.e. George Soros. It’s not a stretch to believe that MSM was so threatened by Trump that it spent tens of millions of dollars trying to find a way, any way, to take him down. By being outwardly hostile to the MSM, Trump, the ultimate outsider, baited them into this battle. If the MSM takes down Trump, it’s hard to see it as anything besides Goliath defeating David. And, no matter what the facts are, it will be Goliath defeating David in the mind of the Trump voter.
It’s this Trumpian psychology that, if he’s impeached, could become one of the most lethal threats our country has ever seen. Here’s a fact that might surprise you: most Trump voters do not care if he collaborated with Russia to take down Clinton. If that was what was necessary to destroy Washington, then it was worth it. Trumpians, many of whom have had their lives destroyed by Wall Street and by an establishment that, fairly or not, they connect directly to the MSM, are so angry that they’ve entered means-to-an-end mode.
To put yourself in the mind of a Trump voter, a good analog would be if a country known for meddling in American politics, let’s say Israel, had hacked the RNC on Hillary’s behalf, then exposed some corruption-containing RNC emails to the public. These emails were then used to defeat Trump. As a Hillary supporter, would you care? Would you really call for Hillary’s head?
The point is, if you think Trump supporters are going to be like Nixon supporters and lose faith in their candidate if it’s proven that he acted nefariously, think again. They won’t care. They’ll interpret a Trump impeachment as a nothing but a usurpation. A corrupt establishment’s inability to play by the rules of democracy. In their minds, the Clintons (as icons of the establishment) are the long-reigning Targaryens, souls destroyed by too much power. Trump is Robert Baratheon, who has done the impossible by defeating the tyrants with sheer brute force.
Had Trump lost fair and square, this might not be so problematic. In fact, I would wager that, had Trump lost, Trump supporters wouldn’t have protested in the streets like Clinton supporters did. One reason that inauguration was so comparatively desolate was that hardcore Trumpians aren’t the kind of people who rally in public. There’s a reason they’re called the “silent majority,” though, as we learned in the election, they’re actually a silent minority. But this shouldn’t be encouraging. Being a large minority just makes them that more dangerous, like an injured animal, if they decide to stop playing by the rules.
The problem is one of psychology. If you take away Trump’s win from them now, it will be thousands of times more devastating than if he had lost the election. A loss snatched from the jaws of victory is devastating psychologically. Studies have shown that domestic violence increases 25% after NFL upsets where a team was winning late then blew it. To continue with the sports analogy, situations where a team loses a close game to a rival are much more likely to lead to spectator violence.
This “so-close” phenomenon might seem like nothing more like an interesting novelty, but in the case of the Trump voter it is non-arbitrary. The rival of the Hillary voter is Trump—and all the old school white masculinity that he represents—but the rival of the Trump voter is actually not Hillary or even her supporters. The rival of the Trumpian is what he perceives to be the establishment. Nothing is more of a manifestation of the establishment than the MSM. If Trump gets impeached, it will be much, much worse than if Hillary had won the election, because it will be defeat at the hands of its ultimate enemy, the establishment itself.
This psychological defeat will be so great that it will lead to the bubbling over of the fury inherent to the Trump voter. But they won’t protest on the streets (which might harmlessly discharge the fury) because that’s not their style. They’ll simply check out. They’ll cease to participate in the system. Voting for Trump was their last, best effort to play by the rules, and it worked. They elected a candidate democratically, one whom, whether he was lying or not, was at least addressing their woes head on. If Trump is impeached, Trump voters will not just believe, they will know that a corrupt media and a corrupt Washington rejected their candidate like a transplanted organ.
So what will happen? It’s likely that the economy will careen towards failure like a train with a broken wheel. Look at the map above. Rural people live very different lives than urban people and they play a very different, and very crucial, role. A city needs rural people to survive, in order to build its towers and produce its food. This is why the electoral college was created, because rural states need a seat at the table even if their numbers don’t match up population-wise.
So even if we buy the somewhat silly Snopes “Cartogram” above, those little red lines bisecting the middle of the country are vital arteries. Even if only 20–30% of Trump voters are so disenfranchised by a Trump impeachment that they exit the game of America altogether, the results aren’t just devastating, they’re terminal. What happens if farmers (who we can assume via the above maps are almost entirely Trump supporters) keep their crops for themselves? What happens if the rural people doing the few blue collar jobs that still remain — e.g. truckers and longshoremen—stop working? Or begin self-sabotaging? Not only won’t they vote, they’ll find ways to boycott the entities that they view as part of the establishment. They’ll hole up in the bunkers they’ve already been building for for years. Doomsday preppers may have been prepping for a doomsday they bring on themselves.
It could become a sort of reverse Cambodian Year Zero. In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, declared all money valueless and forced the “New People”—urban artists and intellectuals—out into the countryside to work the fields. The idea was social fairness and mass production of food, but the results were the exact opposite. Over 3 million people starved to death and the society collapsed. Tyranny reigned in the extreme. It wasn’t until the Vietnamese stepped in to re-assert order that the country stopped its free fall into the Stone Age.
If Trump is impeached, the United States could face an opposite, yet potentially similar scenario. If rural people begin what’s effectively a mass general strike, urbanites won’t be forced out of the city by the government, they’ll be forced out by necessity. The price of food will skyrocket to the point of being unaffordable for anyone but the very richest of city-dwellers. Lines of production and transport will break down from lack of labor and self-sabotage, and the economy will begin folding in on itself.
So be careful what you wish for when you push for Trump’s impeachment. It may seem like Watergate, but it’s unlikely to pan out the way. The players are different. The narratives are different. The psychologies are different. And the blow dealt to a large and necessary portion of the population could be so great as to push a precariously balanced America off its axis into oblivion.