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Trump transition a soap opera

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

FROM this side of the pond the shenanigans around the recent election for the 46th president of the United States may have been a welcome distraction from pandemic fatigue and, indeed, the relentless melodramas of the cartoon characters and pantomime villains in our own Dáil Éireann. If Donald Trump wasn’t such a caricature of all that is crass, narcissistic, manipulative and down-right dangerous we could just laugh out loud.
But the stark reality is that if the democratic foundations supported by the weight of legislation and the constitution of the United States had been weaker, and Trump’s autocratic strategies had been more clever, there could have been a coup in the country that has historically defined itself as the beacon of hope for the free world.
However distasteful it is, it is important to remember that over 70 million Americans voted for this man. It is important to remember too that he is not going away – well, unless he is jailed, as his niece Mary Trump predicted was a possibility in a Guardian article in the days after the election last month.  
Assuming that will not be the outcome, there has been lots of speculation that he may make a run for the presidency again in 2024 or that it will be his glamorous daughter Ivanka’s turn to bring some of her bling to the Oval office.
The most dangerous – and indeed most likely plan, by many accounts – is that he will set up his own broadcasting network, since his old ally Fox News has turned on him. Even Twitter – his favourite medium for throwing his toys out of the pram – has started to flag his posts.
That had to hurt his febrile ego. (At least, it has given a signal that the anarchy and anger allowed through social-media platforms may be beginning to be constrained as a new and necessary fabric of legislative parameters catches up with new media.)    
The reality, though, is that Donald is not as dumb as he appears. Of course, we all know that.
His strategy to challenge and even delegitimise the election results has kept his base on board. Significantly, a base that is not only made up of conservative Catholics and evangelicals, hillbillies who liked his idea of draining the swamp, or far-right white supremacists. There are lots of rich Americans supporting Trumpism.
Trump’s machine has raised some $170 million (€142 million) since election day on November 3.
Whilst the huge donations from the campaign’s appeals have funded his fruitless post-election attempts to overturn the results, an article in the New York Times claims ‘the fine print shows that the first 75 percent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel’.
A mere 25 percent of the money gathered goes into the coffers of the Republican National Committee, the party he is supposed to represent.
Of course, as his niece Mary Trump  – author of ‘Too Much, and Never Enough’ – said in a Guardian interview just after the election, her estranged uncle needs the money. Mary Trump claims he owes some $400 million and suggests that once he is out of the White House, his lenders will be waiting in the shadows, ready to demand that their loans be repaid.
They won’t be the only ones. Bet you there will be queues of former aides and sycophants waiting to dish the dirt on him.  
This columnist will be on the edge of her seat for the Netflix series. Bring it on.