WASHINGTON, D.C. – Much will and should be made about the nature of Donald Trump’s legacy, on the Office of the President, the GOP, and the general political/cultural landscape. While Trump leaves after one term, having ‘lost’ the election, time will tell of how he succeeded and the real force that power his legacy is just taking shape.
That’s an approximation of what Tho Bishop writes at the Mises Institute, in his piece, Trump’s Potential Legacy: 50 Million+ Enemies of the State.
Bishop lays out how Trump’s legacy could traditionally be described in terms of tax cuts, deregulation, stubbornly high spending, Middle East peace accords, and a deluge of confirmed judges that serve to fuel a legacy of a one term president. But in his simultaneously unlikely and inevitable ascendancy, and especially his MAGA intransigence in office, Donald Trump was victorious in birthing a legacy that will endure deeper and more consequentially than mere tax cuts or judicial appointments:
“All of this, however, would miss the true significance of the last four years. Trump’s legacy will be that of a political leader who, at a time when American politics was still adjusting to social media and user-created content, leaned into the polarization of American politics rather than pay lip service to “national unity.” A critic would claim this comes from Trump’s unquenchable need to have his ego stoked. A supporter would see a man who understood the need to realign American politics—but the underlying motivations are irrelevant.
Trump’s impact on American politics may result in an even greater impact on the US government than his collaboration with Mitch McConnell on the judiciary.
A variety of polling indicates that as Donald Trump boarded Marine One to retreat to Mar-a-Lago, he does so with most of his voters believing he is the rightful president of the United States. One poll showed almost 80 percent of Republicans “do not trust the results of the 2020 presidential election.” If we estimate that 75 percent of all of Trump’s 2020 voters hold this view, that leaves us with over 50 million Americans who believe they now live under an illegitimate federal government.
This reality terrifies Washington’s political class more than anything Donald Trump could have done while occupying the White House.
As Murray Rothbard illustrated in Anatomy of the State, “What the State fears above all, of course, is any fundamental threat to its own power and its own existence.” A vital part of the state’s existence is its ability to justify its action with a mantle of “legitimacy”—which in an age of democracy comes from the notion of the “consent of the governed.”
The result of 50+ million Americans viewing the next president as a fraud imposed on the people is an inauguration taking place in a Washington, DC, that resembles a warzone, surrounded by soldiers whom the regime does not trust with their own ammo. […]”
Does that sound like the ingredients required for legitimacy?
Bishop goes on to parse out what may happen if, either, Biden rules in a low profile moderate approach, or if the Radical Left is in control of the Oval Office. Judging by the first 24 hours, the latter appears to be an inevitably.
Similarly so, the perspective of those 50+ million Americans will inevitably shape the historic legacy of the Trump era. And it’s only just beginning.
Read more from Bishop at Mises.org.