SYNDICATED COLUMN: Life Under Trump – What Happens Now?

What happens now?

I suppose it’s my own fault that everyone’s asking me how America will change after January 20th. Such is the price one pays for being America’s political Cassandra: predicted Donald Trump would win the election, told the Democrats snubbing Bernie was a mistake, said we would invade Iraq two years before we did (and that we’d lose), may have been the only person besides Barbara Lee who knew that the “good war” in Afghanistan wasn’t good and wasn’t winnable. I wish I were this good at picking stocks; it pays better.

Anyway: what does happen now?

explainersmallThree scenarios show us what every day life in Trumpian America will probably feel like: Third World dictatorships, prison, and having an alcoholic parent.

In a dictatorship, particularly where the despot is a megalomaniac in the vein of a Saddam Hussein or a Muammar Gaddafi, citizens obsess over the Great Leader’s every move.

These days, there’s no better place to witness this phenomenon than the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. These days, a guy named Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is in charge of this former Soviet backwater. Berdimuhamedow recently made news by unveiling a massive statue of himself, in gold, riding a golden horse, on top of a cliff. (I assume he’s unfamiliar with “The Man From Snowy River.”)

Berdimuhamedow comes off as a relatively modest fellow compared to his predecessor, Sapamurat Niyazov. Niyazov, who gave himself the title “Turkmenbashi” (Leader of All Turkmen), plastered his face on even huger statues, posters, postage stamps, and the nation’s currency. He named everything after himself and his family, including a major city, months of the year, and a meteorite. But while it isn’t hard to draw a comparison between Niyazov’s ego and that of a certain New York real estate developer, what’s particularly relevant is the outsized impact Turkmenbashi had on Turkmens’ everyday lives.

Not unlike the pigeon- and kite-banning Taliban regime in nearby Afghanistan, Niyazov was constantly passing edicts and decrees about anything and everything that crossed his mind. He banned lip-syncing, dogs (only from the capital, because of their “unappealing odor”), smoking (only among government employees, and only after he had heart surgery), opera, ballet and circuses (“decidedly unturkmenlike”) and beards.

Imagine what he could have done on Twitter at 3 am.

New Yorkers facing four to eight years of midtown Manhattan gridlock due to the security cordon around Trump Tower can already sympathize with motorists in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat who know to stay put whenever their dictator is on the move because every major artery is closed. Neither Trump nor the Turkmen tyrant gives a fig for creating commuting havoc.

Whenever I visited Turkmenistan under Turkmenbashi, the only thing anyone ever talked about – and this included ex-pats – was Turkmenbashi. What wacky new rule might the quirky monster impose next? What psychotic new infrastructure project? A ski resort in the blazing hot desert nation? A giant lake?

There was no getting away from this guy. If your kid wanted to go to college, Turkmenbashi was the country’s one-man university admissions committee, personally considering every applicant.

Turkmenistan’s totalitarian regime controls where people work, what news they see, even their facial hair. In such a nation obsessing over the leader’s latest moods isn’t just a symptom of a sick society – it’s a tactic essential for human survival.

Trump probably won’t impose totalitarianism. He’s too lazy for that. But you can already see his manic mind at work, for example at his first post-election news conference. He’s all over the place, free-associating to the point of babbling: “Our veterans have been treated horribly. They’re waiting in line for 15, 16, 17 days. Cases where they go on in and they have a minor early-stage form of cancer and they can’t see a doctor; by the time they get to the doctor, they’re terminal. It’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen. So David is going to do a fantastic job.”


Trump wants to control aspects of our lives that used to belong to us. He’s unpredictable and weird and on some sort of spectrum and now, he’s incredibly powerful. No wonder we are watching and waiting so attentively: we’re scared!

We ought to be.

Many of us will feel like inmates in a prison. People who have done time will tell you that it’s important to study the guards, particularly the sadistic ones. You don’t want to wind up dead just because some correction officer came to work in a foul mood following a fight with his girlfriend, and you weren’t smart enough to avoid or suck up to him.

If you have or had an alcoholic parent, you are probably well prepared for what we as a nation are about to endure. How much you get abused tonight will be directly related to how many Daddy Donald tied on after work. So it’s always wise to watch how fast he takes the turn into the driveway. Read the signs right, and you might just make it out the back door in time.

Of course, there’s also the big question: will America survive Trump?

The country will survive no matter what. The system? Maybe not. At this point, probably the only thing that would save the system would be for the Republican-controlled Congress to impeach Trump. (This would also have the effect of saving the Republican Party.) This would have to happen in relatively short order, no longer than in a year or two.

Sorry. I wish I had better news.

It’s never fun to be a Cassandra.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. Please consider supporting Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • Ted,

    You’re confusing horseapples with oranges. Pre-Trump America is and will never be pre-Berdimuhamedow Turkmenistan. Do you really think that the alphabet-soup agencies would ever let T-rump survive if he were to crap on their own preeminence? Trump was a “lesser-evil” choice by the electorate. He will never be crowned unconditional tyrant.


  • alex_the_tired
    January 12, 2017 11:28 AM


    So what happens next? As before, I think Trump will pardon Manning or Snowden. I also think Trump will introduce something better than Obamacare (not a high bar) within a year. Why?

    What have the Democrats got to offer in 2020? Seriously. They have nothing in the shop window and they’ve got no one to advertise it. Elizabeth Warren passed on 2016. Why? She knew she couldn’t win. Not with Clinton-style politicos all over the place. Think she’ll run in 2020? I wouldn’t bet on it. Sanders might do it. And he’d probably win. But the Democrats will never swallow the mighty big spoonful of shit that such an event would require: They’d not only have to admit they were wrong, they’d have to give him full control. The party would undergo a seismic paradigm shift toward progressivism, and none of the old guard would survive the re-elections because their voting records will damn them.

    And Trump knows this. It’s called the killing blow. The Democrats are in the worst shape they’ve been in for decades. They are the triple-minority party. They have no new stars in the pipeline. All the policies are centrist mush that no one can get worked up about. The young people won’t come back to more of the same Clinton crap.

    If Trump pardons Manning and Snowden and introduces universal single-payer healthcare (no birth control–he’ll need that to keep the Republicans happy), the Democrats will probably lose 75% of the elections they stand for in 2018.

    And Trump knows it.

    • It would be a sight to see. A presidential pardon could do Snowden & Manning, but it wouldn’t exactly play to Hair Furor’s base.

      But as for single-payer, have a real hard time seeing a GOP-controlled congress doing anything to help The Common Man, especially in such a way that looks like :: gasp :: Socialism.

      I can see them repealing the ACA, with bold statements about how they intend to do something better in some vague future … but just right now they’ve got a more pressing need: Cutting taxes for the rich and protections for the poor.

      • alex_the_tired
        January 12, 2017 3:43 PM


        The thing is–at least I think the thing is–that we are now outside of party politics. If the parties had been running things, Clinton or Cruz/Rubio/Bush would have won. Donald Trump winning? That doesn’t happen in a party-driven system.

        So we now have the beta males of the GOP waiting to see what happens. If Trump shows weakness, they’ll turn on him. But Trump knows exactly how to be an alpha. His entire campaign showed that.

        So now he’s after the things that will not only differentiate him from the Republicans, but will also clearly establish his dominance over both the Dems and the Republicans.

        The pardoning of Manning and Snowden would be Trump’s challenge to his own party. “Yeah, I’m doing the unexpected. Go against me, and I’ll rip your throat out.” And once Trump sorts out his own pack, he’ll turn on the Dems.

        There’s two things the Dems kind of, sort of support, in their milquetoast manner: universal single-payer healthcare, which they haven’t been able to deliver in 40 years; and free tuition to state colleges, which they really started on when HRC’s pollsters’ found out from their chauffeurs that a lot of people can’t pay for college.

        Trump will take USPH from them, implement it in under a year, and it’ll be his way of telling all the Dems (and their supporters): “Here. This is how a leader leads. I got this done in under a year. Took the Dems 40 years to NOT get it to you.” And that will be the end of the Democratic Party in any real sense as a national party.

        I may have the details wrong, but the basic strategy? I’m quite sure of that. We’ll see, either way. I could be wrong.

      • Yessir Alex – we absolutely agree on Don Trumprano’s strategy. He’s perfected the scam that failed in ‘The Producers.’

        Phase 1: Oversell a faulty business model
        Phase 3: Profit!

        Phase 1 will be complete as of the 20th. It will be interesting to see which specific tactics he employs in Phase 2, but we can all rest assured that Phase 3 will proceed as planned.

      • alex_the_tired
        January 13, 2017 12:49 PM


        Phase 3? Read the news. The TV signals have been doing some strange things recently (the latest was the Max Headroom-esque looping of the word “Russia” on a recent broadcast). My suspicion? I think the Russian hackers have infiltrated our cyber networks to an extent none of us wants to contemplate.

      • Do not vorrry, komЯade. EveЯything is all Яight.

    • Well, Alex, to my great surprise, it turns out to be Mr Obama who pardons Ms Manning ! Wow ! I can imagine the fury this one will wake….

      I’m hardly an Obama supporter, but this was a both good and smart move – kudos !…


      • That’s pretty cool all right. But pardoning Snowden would REALLY impress me. While we’re at it, how about one of those Presidential Medals of Freedom he’s been handing out?

      • «But pardoning Snowden would REALLY impress me.» Not a chance, CrazyH – Ms Manning is contrite, and can be represented as a victim, while Mr Snowden knows very well how important his act was and doesn’t show the least disposition to apologise. But if I’m allowed a modest proposal : if Mr Obama doesn’t dare pardon Mr Snowden, he could give his Nobel Peace Prize to him ; after all Mr Snowden is far more deserving of it….


  • “Berdimuhamedow recently made news by unveiling a massive statue of himself, in gold, writing a golden horse,” ??????

    Mr Rall wrote a book about Trump, and his research means he knows more about Trump than most of us. As the gocomics comments all state, Mr Rall ran more anti-Hillary cartoons than anti-Trump cartoons, and single-handedly handed the election to Trump. It was obvious to me that Mr Rall figured St Hillary would win (I certainly did, Trump’s best chance was 25% at 538), and maybe Mr Rall thought he could get enough votes for Jill to give her some exposure. As it happens, Ms Stein only gets exposure in the Guardian, not in US newspapers, and, even if all her voters had voted for St Hillary , Trump would still have won. I see Trump and Secretary Clinton as a choice between the frying pan and the fire, and either way, Mother Goose was going to get cooked.

    I would have bought the Trump book, but it’s not for sale here, and ordering a book that’s not for sale here probably means it would be confiscated by customs and I’d lose my money. Or worse. So I bought the 2 Rall books that were for sale here, but Trump was not one of them.

    It’s not clear how bad a Trump presidency will be. His appointments are mostly terrible. And Pence seems quite likely to become President, but I fear Pence might be worse than Trump.

    At least Trump promised no regime changes, while Pence seems likely to continue imposing ‘democracy’ on any place where ‘democracy’ looks profitable (as St Hillary promised she’d do). Of course, Trump might have been lying, but, as in ’68, given the promise of endless, unwinnable war vs what was probably a lie to achieve unconditional victory by a ‘secret plan’, a majority of voters took a chance on the lie, since a slender chance seemed better than the certainty of endless war. As Whimsical says, those who took a chance were all obviously wrong. But I’m not so sure.

    I’d say, Go read the Dilbert blog’ for an optimistic view of a Trump presidency, but Mr Adams made clear that a Trump presidency will be fantastic for incredibly successful cartoonists, not for those who failed to make the 1%.

  • For those who think Trump is the worst so far, I agree with you.

    The empire has been shaken by the Trump victory and is looking homeward in a bad mood.

    For those who think Trump should be taken out by deep state operatives— operatives who make their presence known to neoconservatives and neoliberals such as Senator Charles Schumer, who advises Trump with a thinly veiled threat against challenging the deep state—should consider that whoever takes the place of a security-state-deposed Trump, he will likely be even worse.

    Trump is soon to take the oath of office in substantial part because of the votes of the “basket of deplorables”, and the economic pressure the oligarchs of the duopoly put on these deplorables, who were invisible to the mainstream media echo chamber, the same media that now feels the need to propagate unsubstantiated attacks on Trump with the aid of spy agencies.

    Don’t hope for the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI to install their choice by the means of their own choosing.

    Don’t cheer for the spy agencies to turn sport stadiums into abattoirs the way Hillary’s terrorist pal, the highly revered Henry Kissinger, did in the 9/11 Chilean “miracle”.

    • Too late.

      The FIB already did install their choice of Führer, making their lives so much easier. They will no longer need to waste their time faking results in a crime “lab.” Instead, they will need only to make vague accusations and refuse to release evidence on the basis of national security. They will have the full support legislative and executive branches; while the judicial branch will find no constitutional grounds on which to stop them.

      See? The system works!

      • You might be correct.

        And no matter how this situation resolves, as long as enough people believe the system works, then it works, because manufacturing consent is job number one.

        As Ronald Reagan said, Facts are stupid things.

        Seeking the facts that support the allegations might delegitimize U.S. elections, and that might be a thought crime.

        ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’

  • There does seem to be a comparative paradigm shift within the duopoly. The self-bloviating, Soros dominated oligarchy became too worrisome to the hoi-polloi masses. That professional imposter, Meryl Streep pitifully advertises her whine. Now? the oligarchy landscape is a bit more free-range. That is at least until we get a peek behind the curtain and see whose deep-state fly-by-wire leads up Trump’s ass.

    Meanwhile, global elitist politics will remain shrouded.


  • I can’t wait until Mr Tillerson attempts to deny the Chinese access to one of their islands in the South China Sea (which name he will, of course, change to the «America is Great Again Sea») – talk about the devastation of Troy !…


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