Steve Schmidt: Trumpism is 'Evil'
Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Editor's Note: Steve Schmidt is one of the founding members of the Lincoln Project. He is a communications and public affairs strategist who has worked on several Republican campaigns, including John McCain's 2008 bid for the White House, and he is now a regular political contributor to MSNBC.
On Tuesday, Schmidt wrote a stark warning about Trumpism on his Twitter feed over 17 posts. MaxNewsToday has assembled the tweets and reprinted them as one op-ed for our ongoing segment, Schmidt Storm. His tweetstorm has been edited for clarity.
Contemplating this American moment is essential, because the crisis will worsen and become more dangerous. What is it that we are watching unfold in front of us? What does it mean? What is at stake? What was the meaning of the Republican convention? What happened there?
Trumpism was sharply and intentionally defined at the convention. It is a toxic, metastic and authoritarian ideology that has taken root in America. 25 to 30% of the country are devotees to it. Trumpism is fundamentally un-American. It is a cult of personality that venerates Donald Trump.
The Republican Party imposes but one demand now. Obedience and submission to the leader. The convention was politically ineffective, yet still ominous, jarring and repugnant. The convention advanced the audacious absurdity that Trump cares about America and the American people.
The message was delivered by a bevy of liars, careerists, propagandists, conspiracy theorists, crackpots, collaborators and self-interested family members.
The week was defined by its breathtaking mendacity, utter and premeditated lawlessness and the seizure of some of the most powerful symbols of the American Republic for perverse purposes, not the least of which is the underlying autocratic instinct to hijack symbols of national unity and proclaim them as tribal totems marking the authority of the state in the name of the leader.
The clear meaning of the convention for America’s Trumpist minority is startling, yet clear. In essence, Trump asserted I AM THE TRUTH, I AM THE LAW, I AM THE STATE. He is not, and this must be opposed. Trumpism is a fascistic enterprise. It stands apart from, and is antithetical to, American values.
Trumpism will not yield and retreat when faced with passive denial around what it clearly is. Trumpism has long teemed with menace and violence. Trump has encouraged the violence and celebrated it. He has legitimized it in tandem with his apologists, accomplices and enablers. They have collectively poisoned the country with a toxic media stew of conspiracy, propaganda, lies, grievance, malice, nationalism and racial animus.
A 17-year-old was radicalized by Trumpism. He drove to Wisconsin and became a killer. He is celebrated today as some type of martyr across the the airwaves of extreme media.
Who will he inspire next?
Trump is fomenting chaos and violence in the name of law and order. A president’s duty is to calm the boiling passions of the moment, as they yield to a new understanding of American justice and inclusion under the idea that, in this land, we are all created equal and that the promise of the country must be for everybody. Trump is inciting Americans against each other in the name of expanding his power.
It isn’t just cynical. It is evil. Truly. That is what must be confronted forcefully and fiercely everyday. Trump has desecrated his office, failed his duty and has attacked the greatest ideas and ideals of the country from within as the President of the United States. He has assaulted the rule of law, the Constitution, our institutions, heroes, values and the foundation of our Union.
He has failed history’s test more spectacularly than any American in our history with his blundering, stupidity, malice and incompetence. COVID-19 has consumed American life and wrecked the economy, along with millions of American dreams, because Trump failed to protect the country.
He has betrayed his oath and humiliated America. We are at the precipice of irreversible decline, weakness and danger. Our democracy is under assault from within.
The burden of this moment falls most heavily on Joe Biden. He is the leader of a vast political coalition that harbors wide disagreements, but also rock-solid conviction around faithfulness to our democratic ideals and the immense sacrifices that were made to preserve and expand them.
This is a decisive hour in the American story. The power of our “Better Angels” must be brought into conflict with the noxiousness of Trumpism. The lies, lawlessness, division and malice must be confronted. They must be defeated.
What we saw at the convention was something few thought possible in America, yet here we are. Trump will not succeed in taking American democracy and the Republic away from us. We will have to surrender it to him. If we do , he will not give it back. They never do. Violence and chaos are Trump’s tools. E Pluribus Unum must be the answer. Vote.