Sunday, October 30, 2016

Continuity, but not too much

The US presidential election will soon be over, and the world will sigh in relief. Finally, there will be something else in the news than how terrible the two candidates are, and we can all go back to the business of not knowing what Thanksgiving is or exactly how or when it is supposed to be celebrated.

Normality will return. And there will be another Clinton as a president.

Paradoxically, it will be more interesting to see what the Republican party makes of Trump after the election than during it. During it, they will have to manage a fine theological line of being loyal to the party but only in spirit. Afterwards, they'll have to construe the whole ordeal as some kind of discursive anomaly that only occurred due to aberrant circumstances. A freak accident. Something that, during the years to come, will be referred to as "that one time", the exception to normalcy.

Undoubtedly, there will be generous amounts of sophistry, retconning and outright lying to make it happen. One does not simply erase billions of dollars of brand promotion without effort. The next step in making America great again will, ironically, involve forgetting that very phrase.

Constructing a discursive anomaly also means constructing the thing it is anomalous to. If Trump is to be made a weird thing that cannot possibly happen again, some sort of Republican identity will have to be rediscovered or invented, and then presented as the sane, rational, absolutely non-Trump baseline. To erase the past and move on to a better future. Build a better mousetrap, as it were.

It is one of those inherently American traditions. Like Thanksgiving.

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