Syed: Trumpism, Moment or Movement?

As we sift through the debris of November 8, America must ask itself if it agrees with President-elect Trump’s claim that he is not a passing moment but an enduring movement that will last 4 or may even be 8 years. History has documented moments that became movements.

In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi, challenging the British occupation of India asked his people to extract salt from the sea instead of buying it from their occupier. That led India to win its independence in 1947. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This single act of defiance obliged the United States of America to institute the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Moments die. Movements endure.

In 1947, Joseph McCarthy got elected to the United States Senate and McCarthyism was born soon after and continues to be referenced until today. In June 2015, Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy and in less than 16 months, Trump gave birth to Trumpism.

Moments die. Movements endure.

If President-elect Trump’s claim that his Trumpism is an enduring movement, Americans must worry. Some experts are already worried.

The National Center for the Treatment of Phobia, Anxiety and Disorder in Washington, D.C. reported that each week during the last two weeks before election, four Americans had walked in to their Center, scared and frightened with the possibility of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. Now that the possibility of Trump’s presidency is a reality, one may wonder if the scared Americans are less or if their fears are compounded. And, Dr. Bernard Vittone, the Director of the National Center for the Treatment of Phobia, Anxiety and Disorder says that he has been treating his Trumphobia patients with anti-anxiety medication.

Sustained phobia and lingering anxiety shrinks thinking, especially critical thinking. For example, a thinking person would remember to carry an umbrella but an unthinking genius would blame God for messing up His Majesty’s day!

The unpleasant possibility of an enduring Trumpism is now real. It is real because Trump has almost single-handedly revealed the deep-seated bigotry, xenophobia and hate harbored by millions of fellow Americans who were afraid to express their true selves publicly. Trumpism has not only emboldened them but has also engendered in them a militant love for hate, “a new normal.”

Only time will tell. But the fears of many are not unfounded. McCarthyism still breathes.  After all, both Trump and Joe McCarthy relied on the corrupting advice of the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn.  Trumpism has resuscitated the darkest evils of McCarthyism.  It’s up to the American people to consign both movements to the ashcan of history.

Shakeel Syed, Executive Director, OCCORD

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