Donald Trump's relevance to US politics doesn't disappear on Jan 20, 2021

In 2020's final installment of The Red Pen — as we say goodbye not only to this tumultuous year, but also to the Trump presidency -- Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's US team: Jon Lieber, Jeffrey Wright, Clayton Allen, and Regina Argenzio are taking the Red Pen to an op-ed by John Harris, veteran political journalist and co-founder of Politico, optimistically titled, "Relax, a Trump comeback in 2024 is not going to happen."

On January 20th, Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. So how long will Donald Trump still be a thing in US politics, and does he have another shot at the White House? John Harris makes his case that Trump is going to fade away based on historical precedent that the US system has seen disruptors before and endured other politicians who were more obsessed with their own publicity than the greater goals of their party. And that's true, but we're not so sure that Donald Trump is quite the same phenomenon.

Let's get into it. First, Harris writes, "There are abundant precedents suggesting that Trump does not have another important act in national politics." He points to Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, and Ross Perot. And he argues that while cults of personality in American politics are quite common, they never live long, and Trump has offered no reason to suppose he will be an exception. Well, hold on a second.

Trump got elected president. That's a big difference from other cults of personality in politics.

The biggest difference between Trump and McCarthy, Wallace, and Perot is that Trump actually got elected president. He's got a very broad base of support, unending media presence, and the ability to fundraise at a massive scale. Ross Perot got 8 million votes when he ran as a third-party candidate against Bill Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole back in '96. Trump lost the 2020 election as the incumbent Republican president and he got more than 74 million votes as he keeps reminding us. Big, big difference there.

Next Harris argues, "No one can seriously believe that Trump cares more about the public's problems than his own and that is not a recipe for sustaining political power in contrast to his 2015 agenda, which addressed trade, immigration, globalization and perceptions of national decline."

Donald Trump has long put himself first, but that has not bothered his supporters.

That's not exactly breaking news to anyone who is a critic of Trump on both sides of the aisle, but clearly, it's not how Trump's supporters feel. Remember, if it wasn't for coronavirus, Trump wins this election. He still did better with Black and Hispanic voters than in 2016 and among people who thought the economy was the most important issue in the election. And Republican voters who stood by Trump are angry. Most of them believe the election was stolen and that's not a sentiment that can be waved away on inauguration day.

Harris also writes that, "Trump is essentially a one trick pony. He goes to extreme and he doubles down no matter what. That combination of flawed judgment and impoverished imagination hardly supports optimism about his ability to retain power after January 20th," he writes.

Donald Trump has been demonstrating flawed judgment for years and yet he still has tens of millions of supporters. Now he will have free time and a big megaphone to promote his message.

We say again, "Is that news?" Trump has been going to extremes and demonstrating flawed judgment for four years and yet he still has tens of millions of supporters and he will now have tons of free time and the largest megaphone in the Republican party to promote his message. It's a recipe to stay prominent.

Finally, Harris argues that, "Republicans who want to regain control of the party and become president themselves can simply transcend Trump. They can make Trump look irrelevant, an artifact of an era that has passed." Yeah, they've done such a great job of transcending him so far. Look, let's face it, the GOP right now has very little bench. There is no real era parent to claim that mantle and begin the road to 2024.

How would the Republicans transcend Trump? Who do they have to claim the mantle?

Rather than comparing Trump to McCarthy or Ross Perot, we should look a little deeper into American history at Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president. In a very divided 19th century America, Jackson embodied all the same anti elite and populous arguments as Trump and had a very similar band of aggressive and highly motivated supporters. Trump has expressed his admiration for Jackson several times in his presidency, he even put a portrait of Jackson right in the oval office. (I think that's probably coming down on the 21st of Jan.) Jackson, by the way, served two terms. They were consecutive, and that is certainly not happening this time. But it's way too soon to say that President Trump has no voice beyond January 20th.

That's your Red Pen this week and for this year. We'll see you again real soon in 2021.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

More Show less

Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

More Show less

Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

More Show less

13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

More Show less

Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal