Pallante: The Grifting Will Continue Until Morale Improves

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Donald Trump lost. Come Jan. 20, 2021, at 12:01 p.m. — one minute after Joe Biden is inaugurated — he will no longer be president of the United States. However, Donald John Trump will remain an enduring figure in the American tapestry. For years to come, his influence is going to hang over Republican politics, and it’s highly likely we could see him run again in 2024.

Of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Trump has yet even to concede the obvious: that he lost the 2020 election. Trump continues to yell fraud and spread wild conspiracy theories about the election; that somehow Democrats stole it or that votes for him changed to votes for Biden. Insane. The truth of the matter is that there is no evidence whatsoever of voter fraud in this election.

But that won’t stop Trump or his various surrogates from filing frivolous lawsuits that are only truly meant to destroy faith in our democratic systems. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have sent donation solicitations to their campaign email lists to fund these legal battles. These are small-dollar donations to “stop the steal,” but on closer inspection, one can see what is going on; the fine print on these solicitation emails says that the money will pay off campaign debt for both Trump and the RNC. The reality is that unless your donation is large enough (in the thousands of dollars), it doesn’t fund any legal defense. 

One shouldn’t be surprised; the Republican Party is the party of grifters now, and Trump is a grifter. It’s Trump University all over again, except this time it’s technically a legal scam hidden behind legal jargon and held together by a cult of personality that he built over the last four to five years. When Trump leaves office in January, we shouldn’t expect the grift to stop — because it won’t. Trump is already eyeing building a digital media empire to rival Fox News. He may even hold rallies during this lame duck period and use it to attack the Murdoch-run media company. Inevitably, he will use this platform to continue to influence right-wing politics in this country for years to come, and his children will be heirs to it. 

It’s not only Trump who will likely continue this exploitation, but also the Republican Party as a whole. Various Republican politicians are now jockeying to fill the void that will be left by Trump. Senator Marco Rubio recently told Axios that the GOP must “rebrand” to a “working-class” party.

It makes me laugh. These are the same people who still can’t support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour. Of course, I know what they mean. The party will use cultural grievances to divide people by class while serving a donor class. It’s all one grift, and it always has been. 

The sad thing for Rubio is that it’s not going to get him anywhere in the party. His influence is gone. If Trump wants to run in 2024, he will be the nominee, and if he doesn’t, he will have his choice of the lot, and the Republican base will follow suit. Donations will continue to flow from working people straight into the pocket of the Trump family and Republican Party that is made in their image. The grifting will continue indefinitely, and as George Orwell said, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

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