10 min read

How Bad Will the Next Trump Years Be? Plus, Why America’s Entering a Social Mania Around Trump Again, and Why They’ll Blame This Disaster On Us

How Bad Will the Next Trump Years Be? Plus, Why America’s Entering a Social Mania Around Trump Again, and Why They’ll Blame This Disaster On Us

I’m Umair Haque, and this is The Issue: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported publication. Our job is to give you the freshest, deepest, no-holds-barred insight about the issues that matter most.

New here? Get the Issue in your inbox daily.

  1. Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home (NYT)
  2. We’re letting Trump distract us from his corrupt, anti-climate agenda (WaPo)
  3. Energy transition needs new materials (Science)
  4. Healthy diets with only 10% ultraprocessed foods may raise risk of cognitive decline, stroke (CNN)
  5. Target issues weak forecast as shoppers pull back; shares tumble (Reuters)
  6. Significant Environmental and Climate Impacts Are Impinging on Human Rights in Every Country (Inside Climate News)
  7. Don’t Believe the AI Hype (Project Syndicate)

It was Stephen Colbert who, perhaps, put it best. MAGA, he said, now apparently stands for Make America Germany Again in 1938. Go ahead, chuckle—that came hot on the heels of Trump announcing that he wanted to create a “unified Reich,” alongside some fairly fascist imagery. 

That’d be literally Nazi stuff, by the way. 

So. Do you remember when we used to warn of all this, and, sigh, yawn, shrug, scream, we’d be attacked as alarmists and hysterics and so forth. Here we are, a front-runner for President literally saying the Nazi part out loud. Shortly after that, by the way, one of the far-right’s leaders in Germany caused a furore by defending…wait for it…the SS.

This is where we are, my friends. As I often say, we were right, yet they hate us for it, and that’s why they’re losing…to the…self-proclaimed…what looks a whole lot like…Nazis. I mean, if I say I want to build a Reich…is it fair to call me a Nazi? Shit, this is the kind of thing that gets me in trouble. Not with the fascists. With the liberals. Go ahead and laugh, because that’s why we’re all effed.

Anyways. You probably want to know: how bad would—will, at this rate—the next Trump years be? It’s obvious to anyone who takes a cursory glance at the comments that you’re incredibly learned people, and I take my cowboy hat off to you. The comments here are resplendent with wisdom, truth, courage, and grace. So, in a sense, you already know the answer. 

But I’ll come back to that, after we discuss…

America’s Now Entering a Social Mania Around Trump

Right about now, something very, very strange is happening in—to—America. Societies go through periods of social manias. And right about now, sadly, America’s in one. About Trump. Not against Trump. But increasingly, for him.

The Democrats have shredded their coalition. They appear, like I said, more interested in hating us—and that means everyone from young people to minorities to women to people of color, anyone who’s not, say, an establishment white guy Dem named Josh—than actually trying to stop the fascists. And of course, like I said, you can cry foul and scream, but when somebody says they want to build a Reich…what else are we to call them?

By now, it’s not “alarmist” or “hysterical” anymore to say that Trump’s all these things. I mean, for crying out loud, hello, literal Nazi language. And that’s the strange part. Because the social mania is happening despite all of this.

America’s in a period where there’s a new social mania building around Trump. You can see it in swing voters, “independents,” in the way the Democrats decided that shredding their own coalition was More Important Than Fighting The Fascists, incredibly. All these things are signs of a social mania.

You see how there’s a sort of…euphoria…rising…around Trump’s return to power…even amongst those in the middle, not just the die-hards? How it feels good to them, feels right? How even minorities and young people are sort of walking away from the Dems in disgust, and then they get a taste of this euphoria, and some of them begin to question their own leanings? 

Social manias create this sense of euphoria, and such euphorias are dead giveaway of social manias. But they don’t happen in a vacuum. The euphoria surrounding Trump is sort of the polar and precise opposite of the moral repugnance, the bad, gross, feelings, for example, the Dems have created over Gaza and more. That’s not to say it’s right. It just is. And the point is that euphorias happen in vacuums of leadership, around demagogues, who promise salvation from the moral injury and neglect and betrayal of tainted elites.

This is where we are in 2024—a social mania is growing around Trump, producing a dizzying sense of euphoria, while the Dems have made it feel dirty and bad and gross to be a part of them, something you do holding your nose, for much of their coalition—and that’s a bad, bad place to be.

Now, I want to stress. Some people might not get that. That’s OK. But it’s clearly happening. So why is it happening? The mania, the euphoria, and conversely, the feeling of grossness that the Dems have sort of made much of their base feel?

Consider the long-in-the-tooth fact that…should anybody be losing to Donald Trump? Trump’s list of cons, by now, as a candidate, is longer than Satan’s litany of temptations, more or less—leading a coup, trying to overthrow an election, serial abuses of power, etcetera, etcetera. And yet here he is—as if none of those things ever happened.

Now, it’s true, to the MAGA base, those are all good things. But I highly doubt they can be to anyone remotely in the center, a swing voter, an independent, a young person, a minority, all of whom are rapidly defecting to Trump, or at least away from Biden. And this is what social mania is: people stop thinking with their rational minds.

The Democrats, for their part, have made that easy, because looking at the mess they’ve made of Gaza sort of turns the stomach, and so the rational mind shuts down, a victim of moral injury.

What Makes Social Manias Work? Or, Euphoria, Norms, Destabilization, and Irrationality

And yet social manias proceed in more furtive ways, too. What really makes them manias? The social part, and that’s sort of what’s happening in America. 

The closest analog to all this is Brexit. Back then, no matter how anyone warned what it would do, from economic ruin to fiscal catastrophe, nobody much was prepared to listen. Even the “left” leaning Guardian—chuckle in horror with me—backed Brexit. And that was because it became a kind of norm, amongst certain social groups—the badge of belonging to said social group was taking said position. And if someone said, no wait, maybe this is a bad idea, instantly, they were kind of shouted down, brought into line, by a veritable army of true believers.

It became cool to believe in Brexit. Despite the warnings, despite the litany of them. And behind that process of encooling, if you like—that’s the Don Draper in me, sorry—was the process of social bandwagoning. If you weren’t part of the bandwagon, it didn’t feel good. You were kind of ostracized, maybe, or treated a little more coldly, to the point that you questioned your own beliefs, which is how you get to such incredibly preposterous moments in history as the Guardian backing Brexit.

Trump is on the cusp of a social mania just like this in America. You know by now that nothing registers with die-hard MAGA types. But now it’s different—nothing registers with those on the fence, and in the middle. No matter how hard we warn them, it doesn’t matter. Because being a true believer is becoming a kind of norm. A process of encooling is going on, and you can see it in how Trump swaggers and struts, knowing that everything he says and does has some kind of weirdly perverse golden touch.

The euphoria’s encoded into the social norm, in other words. And rationality, even the merest semblance of it, quickly flies out of the nearest window.

But why is that?

What Happens During the Second Trump Years

Let’s now come to what’ll happen next. This part’s obvious. How much plainer can Trump’s side make it? They’ve announced they want to, among other things—

  • Purge and reshape the entire structure of federal government, for which there’s a 1000 page plan
  • Instantly use shock and awe tactics like mass deportations to change the ethnic makeup of the country
  • Start a trade war, raise tariffs, etcetera
  • Take control of interest rates, away from the Fed
  • Devalue the dollar

And much, much more. In other words, there’s already a huge, sweeping agenda. Now, that part people don’t seem to be getting. This isn’t like the first time around, where even they admitted they were surprised by winning, and didn’t have an agenda, so were left to sort of cobble one together, as they tried to understand how governance actually worked. This time? There’s an agenda for radical social transformation already in place.

That’s why they just called it a Reich, hello.

Now. What’s the effect of all this going to be? It’s going to be economically disastrous for the average person, probably, because of course, all those things will cause inflation and prices to spike, from tariffs to devaluations to labor shortages. It’ll throw the world economy into turmoil, in fact, because up next is probably Trump defaulting on America’s debt, which his advisors have already floated. And of course after that comes accelerating climate change, whose price tag is shudder-inducing.

So. It’s not going to be good, and I haven’t even gotten to the sort of moral valence category of stuff, as in, do you really want to live in a society where men with guns in black vans are taking people away just because they’re not really people at all? Nor have I gotten to the next set of problems, which is that Trump’s already out there “joking” about being a three or four term President, as in, so much for democracy.

Anyone who’s been paying the merest sliver of attention should sort of know all that.

And so if you’re kind of…worried…concerned…let me assure you, you should be.

The Triumph of the Reich, or Why the Second Trump Years Will Be a Glorious Success (Until It’s Too Late)

But will it matter? You see, social manias do strange things to societies. They cause a kind of hangover, in which people, in a kind of cognitive dissonance, won’t admit they made a mistake. To this day, in Britain, Brexit’s non-negotiable—even though by now, the majority regret it, and it took a solid half decade plus to get that far. 

That’s what social manias do. They alter societies in deep, lasting ways, making it impossible to admit mistakes, leaving this kind of hangover of dazed confusion, in which nothing seems real, and it can’t possibly be that bad.

That’s probably what’s going to happen next, too. Will things get bad? Yes, very much so. But will the average person admit it? Probably not. Not so much the die-hard MAGA fringe, but remember, the marginal person in the middle. Those are the ones who made Brexit go, too, and in that same sort of way, it taking them half a decade plus to come out of their…coma…

So it’ll be for America. Societies don’t just snap out of social manias and say to themselves, my God, we made a terrible mistake, and we’ve got to fix it. We’re approaching a decade since Brexit, and it’ll take another two to three—if ever—for Britain to even begin to broach being European again, and that’s if there’s an EU left. Social manias are like Big Life Mistakes—it takes us years to really come to grips with them, and then we fall into a period of sort of paralytic remorse, more of than not, before we can get back to…being rational, mature, grown-ups again.

So the next Trump years will be this sort of strange, destabilizing combination. They’ll be pretty terrible in every imaginable way, economically, socially, culturally, and that’s not petty politics, but empirical, as in, indicators will all slide downhill. But the average person won’t feel that way. They’ll probably tell you that the economy’s doing much better, society feels much more cohesive, and so on, for quite a while, before reality sets in.

And when it does, it’ll probably be too late. Just as Brits can’t undo Brexit now, so too Americans aren’t going to be able to undo another Trump Presidency’s long-term effects. From, wait, will there even be another election again?, to trade wars, debt crises, social norms altering, and so on. Those changes will be semi-permanent, as in, hey, if you’re sort of middle-aged like me, welcome to the rest of your life.

Steel Yourself, Because It’s Going to Be All Our Fault

So. How bad will it be? For those of us who are thinking types, creative types, empathic types, learned types—it’s going to be really, really bad. On the one hand, we’ll see history repeating itself through a glass darkly, and on the other, we’ll see that the social mania induces a kind of euphoria in people, whose effervescence hides truth, reason, and reality, and isn’t quick to fade.

My best advice, then, I suppose, is…I don’t know…steel yourself. Because one final blow is going to make it that much worse. Liberals will still keep on hating us, and telling us it’s all our fault. Go ahead, roll your eyes with me. When has it ever not been? We’re supposed to ride to their rescue, time and again, women, minorities, people of color, those who are different in any way, and yet they’re rarely, barely there for us, and when we call them out on it…they attack us for it, and then when they lose, it’s our fault, not theirs, for being incompetent, weak, and sort of ungrateful. This is the fatal bargain that got us all here, and it’s the same one, by the way, that got Weimar Germany there. If you ask me? It’s on them, this social mania, because they only happen in a vacuum of true leadership.

❤️ Don't forget...

📣 Share The Issue on your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

💵 If you like our newsletter, drop some love in our tip jar.

📫 Forward this to a friend and tell them all all about it.

👂 Anything else? Send us feedback or say hello!